I think it is safe to say that family makes the top of my favorite things list. I waited my whole life to have the perfect family and quickly learned that is not a thing that exists. Anyone agree? Please tell me I am not the only one that found out the hard way.
I jumped into the most amazing romantic relationship with my husband after so many years of praying, longing for a relationship, a few more Mr. Wrongs than I’d like to admit, and lots of waiting. (All the while, waiting for a sticky note from God with some direction and hope of the future.) And like all new brides, I had a pretty fantastic list of expectations – some we had talked about and some we hadn’t. Children were certainly on that list of expectations and lucky for me, they made Husband’s list too.
We have been pretty lucky to be on the same page of the hypothetical “parent manual” since the beginning. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, because I know there are parents out there who don’t always agree. I think the one key to our consistent turning of the same pages is communication. We try (and are mostly successful) to talk every night for a few minutes about the kids for just few minutes. We each have such different experiences with them and now that they’re older, different conversations, and it is important that we both know all of the things. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it isn’t but it keeps us unified in all things while we prepare for the teenage years when I hear every parenting trick you know gets flushed down the toilet. (Please say it ain’t so.)
We try (and are mostly successful) to talk every night for a few minutes about the kids for just few minutes.
While Husband and I each have our own lists of important things to teach our kids, there are definite cross-overs: Jesus, math/finance/budgeting (both of us, but me because I couldn’t never do it well, and him because he’s good at it), respect and love for everyone, family first (after God). That last one has been especially interesting to teach while we enter the tween girl stage with our oldest two and talk all things puberty, mean girls, make up rules, bikini rules, and bedtimes. I can only pray the message makes it into their quickly developing brains and is burned there for eternity, so that when they’re in different rival colleges they’ll still choose each other as a BFF.
My favorite thing that we both agreed on was the necessary importance of quality time with our kiddos. Here are a couple of #parentinghacks that we’ve found successful in our short time in the Parent Club.
- Kid Dates. So much fun and so important to make our kids feel loved and known as an individual. This worked into our schedule pretty naturally as the older girls started activities and one night overlapped. We took turns taking a different girl one-on-one for a special dinner or activity. Now that we have added a toddler boy into the mix we’ve changed it up, but still make it a priority to spend time with each child individually at least once or twice a month. This is when I learn the things, you guys. Who’s friends with who at school, who is super nice and super mean, which teacher has the best prize box, which one yells the most, what they want to be when they grow up…all the things. One-on-one they open up so much more.
- Family Nights. Look, I love a good theme. So we often put a theme twist on our family nights. Sometimes it is simple like snacks and game night. Other times it is more elaborate like when we did the Disney Movie Challenge and watched every Disney Classic in order of release. Our family nights consisted of a themed meal or snack that went along with the movie, sometimes and activity, or a few times, just a fancy popcorn because that’s all we had time for. Aside from each other. Either way, it was protected family time and we enjoyed it so much that now we are nearly through the Pixar films. (New post coming soon with all our Disney Movie Challenge ideas, promise.)
- Vacations. I’m a travel agent part-time and so I naturally have the bug for all things travel. My kiddos learned it early too and they can pretty much plan their own vacations now, and sometimes we let them! Often, they each get one day of our longer vacations to make their own. Again, sometimes vacations are big (like Disney World) other times they are more relaxed like a week at the lake in Northern Michigan, and often they’re small like a quick weekend in DC or Chicago to visit friends and family. The important thing is we are doing it together and creating intentional time to spend as a family. (See a theme, yet?)
- Fun. I’m not the fun parent in the mix, but I wish I was sometimes. Husband often gets to do the “fun” things and I do the “daily routine” things. And it works for us, but I am trying to include some more mom-fun too. The easiest way for me to do this was learning how to say “yes”. Yes, the dishwasher can wait. Yes, the laundry can wait. Yes, the phone call can wait. Yes, I will build a tower with you. Yes, I would love to help paint your nails. Yes, let’s practice cursive together. Yes, I want to snuggle and watch a show together too. All the yes-es. I read an article once about a mom who said “yes” to everything her kids asked her for like a week. Within reason, of course, and considering their safety and well-being. I’d like to try this! It definitely made me more aware of my “yes”.
My little family may not always be perfect, but they are certainly the perfect family for me. Chosen, blessed, loved, and formed by a Master Creator who gifted me with answered prayers and the family I had dreamed for.
Tell me your favorite family things…I can’t wait to hear.