Next month we will have a driver. I can’t even believe that I just typed that. If someone said that Josiah would be turning ten next month, I would think that seemed about right. Sixteen doesn’t seem possible. I look at him often and try to find the little boy, who was not so long ago, and he is barely visible. Tyler is right on his heels and Makayla will be soon after.
I am excited about this next season and love watching the kids grow physically, emotionally and spiritually, but there is a little twinge of sadness that the season I so loved is fading away giving way to a new one. The new one is beautiful and exciting, but I also know that the last season of baby, toddler and elementary years is quickly fading. Drew will make his exit in two years. That season will have fully given way to this new one, like when Spring has fully bloomed into Summer. Pardon me while I grab a tissue. I just love these kids.
I love to see them grow, but I have a confession to make. I loved the little years. I didn’t love how tired I was and I certainly didn’t love every moment. In fact, chances are on any one of the more chaotic days, if you would have peeked your head into our toys strewn family room, you would have heard me chanting, “The days are long, but the years are short,” under my breath. I loved the funny comments, sweet innocence and discovery those years brought.
And here I stand. Indeed the years are short. I know that this season will go more quickly than the last and I am trying to hang onto every moment I can. Some I’d like to fast forward (like the one right now where my ‘helpful’ teen is informing me that I have a mental condition. He knows that I do. It’s clear as day. He just learned about it yesterday. The condition I apparently have is one where the sufferer hates the noise of chewing so much that they lash out at anyone who is chewing at all. Nevermind that he is chewing very loudly on a straw as I write) but I really want to grab hold of these days.
This new season has caused us to reflect a lot on our parenting. John and I have been talking here and there about things we are glad that we did and things we wish that we had done with our kids. I am going to go ahead and share the things we have talked about, because I love getting new ideas from others and maybe you’ll find some that can become your own.
If you have your own PLEASE COMMENT. I want to hear your ideas and I am sure others do too! We can help each other 🙂 I am an information hoarder and many of the things you will read that we have done have come from books and other things that I have read. So here it goes…
THINGS WE ARE GLAD WE DID:
-Date night with each individual child. We would keep one child up past 8:30 on Thursday nights, let them eat ice cream and play a game with them. We would usually spend about an hour or hour and a half with them. At the end, we would pray with them about any concerns they had, but most of the time we just prayed a blessing over them. Now that they stay up later than we do, we take one child out on Saturdays for breakfast. This usually happens every other week or so.
*Why we are glad we did this: It gives us time with each child individually. They talk about different things than they would with the whole family. It gives us a loving and safe place to discuss problems we may be having because it is already established. They don’t just get us both together when they are in trouble. It helps us know what is going on with them individually.
-Read to the kids A LOT
*Why we are glad we did this: I don’t know 🙂 I just loved having them sit next to us and now they love to read.
-Went and still do go on a lot of walks
*Why we are glad we did this: When kids are small they explore and stop and look at everything and it is just so darn cute. The kids still talk about all of the walks we took and are usually up for a quick walk anytime. A great side benefit is meaningful conversations with teens and preteens happen on walks.
-We go on our own dates weekly or bi-weekly
*Why we are glad we did this: We modeled that our marriage was first and now they actually like it when we go on dates because they have their own routine of hanging out together that they enjoy on those nights. We have found they LIKE us to be together.
-John takes the boys on a twelve year old trip and I took Makayla on a twelve year old trip. We talk more in depth about boy/girl things as well as tell them what we see in them.
*Why we are glad we did/are doing this: These trips have made special memories and it gives us a chance to really speak with value about something that is valuable. The trips have been both memorable and meaningful.
-Talked with the kids on a regular basis about what God has done and is doing
*Why we are glad we did/are doing this: Our kids expect God to be actively involved in their lives. They have seen that He is good; not just in their own lives but also in the stories they have heard. He isn’t just a God they read about, but a God who is involved in their day to day life.
THINGS WE WISH WE WOULD HAVE DONE OR ARE LEARNING TO DO:
-Had deeper conversations and really gotten deep into each other’s lives earlier
What we wish would have happened: Although we are starting these deeper more focused family conversations now, we really wish we would have done it sooner. We did family devotions regularly when the kids were younger, but devotions every night quit working for us quite a long time ago. They just weren’t very practical with the rhythm of our life when the kids got older.
Just recently we read of an idea where everyone shares something they need to grow in and the whole family then helps each other grow in that area. It could be an attitude, a bad habit, anger or really anything. The point is that we need each other to grow spiritually and this seems to be a really great way to bring vulnerability, openness and empathy into the family. Also, every person shares what God is doing in them personally. We have only done it once because we first read about it last week 🙂 It was amazing and the kids loved it. I have been amazed at the increase of grace they have shown to each other this past week. We plan on doing it once a week now.
-Worried a lot less
What we wish would have happened: We wish we would have prayed more. Worry added a lot of unneeded stress and harshness that wouldn’t have been a factor had we prayed and really believed that God would answer and give the wisdom we need when we need it. Seeing Him answer so many things has given us more confidence that He does indeed answer. My heart is more at peace which means our home is more peaceful 🙂
What we wish would have happened: God has done so much in my heart and healed so many places. I didn’t know that much of what I struggled with could not be part of my life. Had I recognized it sooner, I would have pursued healing for my heart much sooner. Many of my regrets with my children stem from my own heart issues. I would have been a kinder and more patient young mom.
What I wish would have happened: I would have learned to be a great listener early on. The truth is that I am not naturally a great listener, but I am now really working on it. I ask the kids often if I am actually listening to them. I didn’t realize how much my absent-minded listening really hurt them.
So there you have it! That’s not a complete list of course, but just some things that I have been thinking about and trying to grow in. What kinds of things do you do that foster relationship and growth in YOUR family?