You know what time it is. Back to school time! The pencils are purchased and the backpacks are packed, so how can you ensure you and your kiddos have the best year ever? Look back and take stock of where you dropped the ball. That's right - we've all done it so there's no judgment here. At CSE, we speak openly about the trials and tribulations of motherhood including the missed meetings and the botched playdates! Life isn't perfect but every year is a chance for a new start and a new chance to become the mother of your dreams!
One of the things I love to do is inspire women to be all they can be both inside and outside of the home! If you're single, you don't have much to worry about on the home front except preparing yourself for the future you imagine which we will have more information about coming soon. But if you're married and/or a mother, in addition to shining at work you've got to super shine at home. Often we (intentionally or unintentionally) get these things confused. When home is challenging, we seek to excel at work. Women need to get accolades somewhere and parenting is, quite frankly, thankless most of the time. No one sees the hours of time and prayer we put in, the toilets cleaned, the dishes washed, the 10,000th taco night! The most we get is a half-hearted "thanks, mom" or "that was great, honey" and off everyone goes into their own little world. I'm sure you've wondered, like I have, if you're making a difference with the ones who matter most.
Well, we have a few tips for you today that are sure to turn heads in your household! They might challenge you and cost you a little time, but they are going to help you have the best school year ever!
1. Have Dinner & Talk Time
Remember when your family sat around the dinner table each night and relayed the day's events? Whether your family did or didn't, I can certainly tell you that it's a lost art in our oh-so-busy worlds! Parents and kids keep such busy schedules that they barely have time to look at each other let alone enjoy a meal together. This simple daily exercise will change the way your family sees each other. It creates a special ritual that your kiddos will remember forever and, even if you've never done it, they will love that it started! Okay, maybe at first they'll think you've gone crazy, but then they will love that you started it.
One of the things that dinner time together does is give you a chance to observe and talk to your children each day. Do they seem happy, sad, or anxious from one day to the next? Is everything okay at school? You will find out all this and more when you sit down for a chat. Remember, kids will respond with "fine" to almost any question so be sure to ask specific questions such as "What did you learn in math today? How are things going with the new girl at school? Are you excited about your next field trip?" Kids light up when you talk to them directly about things they like to talk about in a non-threatening way. It lets them know that you're interested in them outside of scolding them for being in trouble or telling them to get off the phone! And speaking of phones...
2. Have Device Free Time
This is a tough one, even for me! We are so used to checking our phones, computers, and social media accounts that most of us haven't noticed that we have no free time. We are slaves to our devices. When we were young, there were one or two phones in each house with a cord that was stuck to the wall! If someone was on the phone, no one else could get through. There were times, when you just interacted with your family and not everyone from the outside world had access to your personal times of peace and quiet. We jump sky high every time the phone rings.
The sad thing is, this was not a coincidence. Cell phones were designed so that we would want to check them 1,000 times per day. The way they're shaped, the way they light up, everything about them begs for our attention. Research shows that our conversations are not nearly as deep when our cell phones are out - even if they are face down on the table.
Cut the cord! Have a basket where cell phones are deposited during dinner and for one hour after for homework, reading, relaxation, and quiet time. Even kids who are addicted to their devices don't know how much they need this break for their eyes, minds, and spirits. It will feel a little weird at first, but you and your family will find things to do to fill the void that brings you closer together. Play a game, watch a favorite show, go for a walk, or make cookies. Don't wait until the electricity goes out to do things together that don't include devices! Your heart and home will be happier and more peaceful for it, especially when you unplug from the sometimes toxic nature of social media.
3. Have Morning & Evening Time
Are you a morning person? If not, you and your kiddos may have a rough start to most days. But did you know that those wonderful morning hours are great times to spend with your husband and children? If your work schedule doesn't permit dinner together, breakfast together is a great alternative! Do you cook in the morning or rush out of the door with a baggie of cereal? Do you forget to pray with your kids before they leave the house? We've all done it, but a nice un-rushed morning with a hot breakfast and prayer time gets kiddos off to a great start and coffee with your man is a wonderful morning ritual that brings some couples "closer than close!" You may find that you have to go to bed early to feel more refreshed for this tip, but that's okay, too, because bed time is part of the plan.
In the evening, don't just scurry kiddos off to bed. I know, I know, by bedtime you're so tired you just want them to vanish between the sheets, but there's a better way to get them prepped and primed and ready for bed time. Some families end the night with a bath, a book, a light snack, and prayer time. Believe it or not, your kiddos - even the older ones - love to be read to! It helps improve their love of reading and provides lots of time for snuggling. Again, don't worry if you've never done this - or haven't done it for a while - start now! Your children will love it. Listening to your kids prayers lets you know what they're thinking about and what's bothering them. It also establishes that they should do this themselves with or without you reminding them to. For moms with really little ones, this takes the battle out of bedtime because kids will look forward to this one-on-one time with you or dad and the special time and treats included.
Honey, life is tough, so don't feel that you have to incorporate all these things at once, or suddenly be the perfect mom in one day! No, pray for God to help you and meditate on His word. Be sure you are getting plenty of time for yourself to relax, pray, and read so that you will be refreshed enough for your family. Don't let the world drain you of every drop of time and energy you have, and then have nothing left for the ones who matter most! When you take the meat of the scriptures to heart, everything will fall into place!
"She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her..."
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Until next time,