Last week I had one of those days. You know the kind. It was the sort of afternoon where you think you are going to glide through just fine until dinner time and end up hidden away in the bathroom with a bar of dark chocolate with sea salt for comfort. This day had flattened me and cut right through all my firewalls. I was wrestling long and hard in a throw of words with one of my girls. We were grating on each other, wearing one another down. She expressed her frustration with an eye roll here, a murmur there, and I over-corrected, under appreciated and became all together critical of everything she was up to. In the moment though, I just felt right, I wanted her to yield, to bend…I wasn’t about to be satisfied until she let me control her.
Naturally, while clutching my chocolate and holding on for my dear emotional life, I phoned my husband and spilled out all my guts. “Wow, honey. It sounds like you could use a date” Yes! Whisk me away from here, where shall we go? I’ll make the reservation! Oh wait. He meant with our daughter.
His words rang true. Since each of our children was a toddler, I’ve found that when I begin to become irritated, when I’m easily offended or grasping for their ear, its an indication that we could both benefit from some focused time together. Our children know when we are over-tired, they can sense when we are frustrated with them or when our communication has been out of tune. The disconnect can be felt deeply by their little hearts.
It is in these moments that we are called to initiate restoration and love- to show our children they are our priority and to speak out with our words and actions that they are special to us.
Time away with them reinforces the bond we have in our own hearts as well. It is a valuable work to seek to grow in love.
Here are some ideas for connection when you feel depleated or are struggling with your children. I pray that if you are in need of connection with your babes, in need of re-building nurture, that these would be a blessing as hearts soften in your home.
-Get outside! Go for a hike or walk together, drive to a local hilltop and take it in together, play loud music and sing along on your way.
-Create a place for tea and a treat at home with your child. Pull out fancy tea cups, use doilies, light a candle and bake cookies. Invit them to sit alone with you to talk or read together. Keep the other children occupied with the rest of the cookie batch and an audio book or special puzzles.
-Move! Kick around the soccer ball, run laps at the local track,ride bikes or hit the putting green. Enjoy movement together and talk as you exercise. Sometimes our stress needs help working its way out of our bodies, and being on the move is just the thing!
-Gaze. Grab a cool drink and head to an area where you can see the open sky. Lay back and find as many cloud shapes as possible together.
-Create a project that you can work on together. All at once or in increments- organizing family photos and sharing memories as you sort them, beading necklaces or knotting friendship bracelets, working on a centerpiece of flowers for the dining room or building small furniture can be wonderful ways to connect.
-Plan and cook a feast for the rest of the family. Let your child design the menu and take on the big jobs in the kitchen!
Most importantly, pray and read God’s word together. Let your child know how you see them as a world-changer, endowed with incredible gifts from the Lord. Often, speaking out truth is the reminder we parents need as well.