Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Connecting

Life with four children is very crazy and very hectic. The fact that we will be adding another child to the mix can make me feel overwhelmed. I have to slow down and remember to live in the moment, not in "what might come."
This is good advice when faced with the question that every mom of more than one encounters: How do I connect on a deep level with all of my children individually?
I think about these things, you know.
One way that I connect with my family is by daily family dinners. We all wait until daddy comes home and we all eat together. It is the one time of day that we can be sure we are together to connect. Sure, it would be easier to feed the hungry littles earlier, but when I get the opportunity for us to all be together, then I am going to take it.
Another way is not only building times, but taking advantage of times during the week I know I will be alone with a certain child. Wednesdays are the day that my teen rides with me in the afternoon to go pick up the three youngest children from either home school co-op or preschool. I look forward to this time because it is really the one time a week we are alone for a good 30 minutes in the car chatting and connecting. Often the talk is not about "deep issues", but everyday things. I also bribe her with a Starbucks drink if she will go with me. =) I think five dollars for that time is worth it.
Another thing I like to do is take a child with me on errands when my husband can stay at home with the others. My children remember "who went last time" and when their turn is to get a chance to be with mama alone. I love to connect with my children one on one, so I try to make time for that whenever I can.
Saturdays are good days for "dates". Last Saturday I took my eight year old to breakfast and then the bookstore. Just her and I. (This was a Christmas gift, but I also like to make time to do it other times.)
It's important to be mindful of these times, because often the richest connections are made in the shortest times of one on one. I love to get to know my children in this way.
Often times, one on one times are not possible. I find that if I am practicing living in the moment with them, actually listening when they talk to me, getting down on my knees, looking in their eyes, and letting them know what they are telling me is important speaks volumes to them, and for me, it allows me to slow down and really live in the moment.

I also keep in mind some great advice that Kari Jo shared on her featured Mama Monday. When asked what restores her as a mom, she answered:
"praying with my kid.
asking what they're thinking about God,
about what it means right-this-very-moment that
our identity is in Christ,
asking them how i can pray for them,
which of their friends i can pray for
(i love to hear what they're observing about others)

talking spiritually w/ my kids
reminds me that we're on the same page,
that we belong to the same Father;
what encouragement
and significance this brings
to our constant interactions."


Love that.
Taking time to connect with our children and family lets them know we love to be with them, spend time with them, and care about their feelings-- therefore who they are as a person. It helps us get to know them better to better understand them, and that way we can better parent them with grace.
In what way do you connect with your children and family? I'd love to hear...

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

I really value all of us eating together as a family. My husband is coaching softball right now and has a wacky schedule. We don't eat together every night anymore and I miss it. I feel as if we aren't as connected to each other. We have been eating anywhere from 4-7 and it hasn't been fun, but meal times together are worth it most of the time.

JJ said...

We have lots of time together as a family but have to be more intentional about giving individual, undivided attention to each child.
My oldest stays up later than the younger two and gets his time then. That's also when he's ready to open up and talk about whatever is on his mind. As a true introvert,he's not ready to talk as soon as he gets home from school(needs downtime from all the stimulation of the day) but at night...he doesn't stop talking! When he finishes a chapter book, I take him to the bookstore for hot chocolate, a sweet, and a new book. Not real cheap but it's a tradition we both love. I hope to do this with the other two when they are old enough.
My husband and I also go on outings with each child (an errand, pet store, out for sundaes or a child's favorite appetizer at a sit down restaurant).
I try to be aware that there are moments that occur naturally and they count too! Like our middle child loves to garden -more so than the others. My husband is the gardener. Lots of times they will work together in the garden while the rest of us are doing something else. The youngest takes long baths and so that frees up some snuggle/book time for the middle child too. The youngest gets lots of my time as she's the only one home with me during the school day.
With that said, I do feel oftentimes that someone is usually getting the short end of the stick. I can't divide myself equally all the time. I try to evaluate things on a weekly basis instead of a daily basis. That takes a lot of pressure off yet holds me to a (more realistic )goal.

TAMI said...

One-on-one time with our munchkins is my favorite!! Yes, yes, it's precious and wonderful to be a family, but focused attention is a place of flourishing for us. The Engineer makes a point to take the girls individually on dates - and if he leaves too much time inbetween they let him know!

Anonymous said...

I love hearing ideas and thoughts on this.

We have very littles: 6 mos. + 6 mos., 2, 4 and 6. Plus my husband is gone for 12 hours a day.

For practical and precious reasons, I need to keep things simple and stay home a lot.

When I do have a "special time" of reading to my toddler, taking a child on an errand, making soup with a child or whatever, here's how I like to make the time count even more: at night I try to look into each child's eyes and tell them how much I love being their mother. But I continue and tell them how I specifically enjoyed reading "good book name" with them or how I enjoyed talking with them in the van alone and grocery shopping with them alone, etc. I also try to remember that my tasks can wait, but that having my 4 year old make soup with me is a precious time.

Thanks! Mary-Brooke

Stacy said...

I think about these things, too. A LOT.

We do family dinners, every night.

We do the errands thing, too- for individual time with daddy or mommy. I received that tip from an older mama, years ago. Love it.

I love your thoughts on simply really listening in the moment, getting on their level. Crazy how little that happens some days! Asking a question, making an observation about something they're doing, just taking time to truly pay attention, look at them and listen to the WHOLE story or dream or thought. :)

Great encouragement, Andrea!
Blessings to you and yours today...

Susan @ HeartPondering said...

I am new to blogging and just found your blog - will visit regularly for sure.
Expecting my third and already can see that there will be overwhelmed moments (there are some now w/ just 2 + dog!)
Loved the prayer comments you included here. I just posted today on the topic of "Praying with Preschoolers" and find these words very encouraging and relevant to my own thoughts on this.
Praying is an amazing uniter among the generations...
Thanks and blessings,
Susan

Andie said...

How did I miss you were adding a 5th?! Wow...you simply rock the motherhood gig, lol.

I love what you wrote here about family dinners. They are SO important.
xxoo,
a.

http://www.andieedwards.com/blog/

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