Photo by apdk
Last weekend I spent two days at a homeschooling conference. I even ran into a Steady Mom reader there. (Hi Donna! Thanks for saying hello--you made my day.)
I always look forward to this annual retreat as a time to refocus, and this year was no exception. One speaker especially made me think as he shared about the importance of including our children in the details of our everyday lives.
"The only way you'll include them is if you like them." Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Yet I know I've been through times when I find this to be a challenge. Not all developmental stages are pleasant, are they?
How can we love our children in the midst of seasons when their behaviors may not be incredibly likeable?
Here are four strategies I've found helpful.
1. Get out the baby pictures.
Babies are just sweet and kissable. Something about their helplessness endears them to us.
I try to start every morning with a quick moment in which I remember what my children were like as babies. Thinking about a few special memories reminds me that my kids are still the same souls they were then, and helps me approach them with more compassion.
There were so many babies and toddlers at the conference I attended--it made me just fall in love with their chubby cheeks and generous smiles. I needed that. (But no, we're not adding to our family, in case you're wondering!!)
2. BE with your children.
"But I'm with them all. the. time!" you might reply. I know, but I'm realizing that often though I'm with them, I'm not with them.
Can you relate? Sometimes I float mentally in and out while crossing off items on my to-do list, only paying attention to the kids when something goes wrong.
Recently I got into the habit of quickly checking my email in the morning. This was before the kids were even awake, so I thought it was fine. What I discovered, though, is that I then started the morning with the children already thinking of other work that needs to be done. Not good.
Our kids reflect what they feel; they mirror what they see in us. If we're not really "with" them, they know it--and sometimes their behavior pleads with us to be present.
3. Hug and kiss more.
This idea could be called "fake it 'til you make it." Some might find this insincere, but I am often amazed that acting loving and affectionate helps you start to actually feel more loving and affectionate.
It can be hard to show affection to a child who has recently angered you, but doing so puts you both on the track of recovery.
4. See the best in them--like you hope they will with you.
Remember when Kat wrote about her daughters' Christmas memories, which were so different from her own?
As moms we hope our kids will remember the effort we put in and the love we gave, instead of the times we yelled or made mistakes. Don't we need to do the same for them?
A child who is bossy may have a great capacity for leadership. One who cries easily may have a depth of sensitiviy and compassion. Visualize what you see in them and what it may become in the future. Doing so allows you to grab onto a strand of patience in the present.
It may not seem very "Steady Mom-ish" to admit not liking my children from time to time, but I bet some of you reading can relate. None of us have motherhood completely figured out, but we can find ways to hang on to joy in our day-to-day lives.
We're in this for the long haul, after all. No resignations allowed.
*What helps you continue giving love unconditionally, even through the challenging moments?*