By Katie M. Reid, iBelieve.com
There is a lot of pressure on moms to do and be all things for their children. We don’t want to burnout, so how do we navigate the pressures of parenting without combusting in the process?
Moms with grown children often say, “The years fly by, enjoy each moment!” While true, this statement provides minimal comfort to a mother who is trying to console a fussy baby, potty train a toddler, or break up another sibling squabble.
Our oldest daughter is twelve and we only have a handful of years left to train her in the way she should go. Regret can haunt us or grace can cover us as we move forward in raising our children.
I don’t know about you, but I often complicate the process of investing in my kids. Recently, I have discovered that being an intentional parent can be much simpler than we realize.
Here are 3 easy and free ways to parent with purpose without wearing yourself out:
Free Hugs: Give a spontaneous hug to your child. It is an easy way to affirm them and make them feel special. I use this tool when my kids are having a particularly hard day or moment. It only takes a few seconds to stop and call out (or yodel), “FREE HUGS!” After the initial groans, the kids usually smile as they come running to my arms. Tweens or teens may not appreciate this ritual, but it can still prove beneficial. During a time when they may be struggling to feel or act lovable, this simple gesture can melt away some of their insecurities. Or maybe you could try a high five or fist bump instead? The point of this simple exercise is to communicate love and acceptance to your child. It doesn’t take any planning, just a willing spirit to reach out with arms open.
Affirm and Bless them Out Loud: Often times I am just trying to stay above water in the midst of managing schedules, making sure everyone is fed, and teaching my kids to pick up after themselves. It’s not that I don’t want to create memorable moments with them, and speak blessing into their life, it’s just difficult to find the time and energy to do that.
We recently went on vacation and the kids and I roamed around the breathtaking gardens located in the hotel. We sat behind a man-made waterfall. For just a few minutes we were quiet and still. I took a few moments to speak a blessing over each of the children. I put my hand on their head, looked them in the eye, and spoke words of affirmation over them.
I didn’t plan this moment ahead of time, but I asked God to help me find the encouragement that each child needed. It was good for them to hear, not only what I said about them, but also what I said about their siblings. I affirmed my love for them by complimenting various aspects of their character. For example, “Son, I thank God that he gave you a mind that thinks logically and is good with numbers. May He use your intelligence to do great things. I also see the way you hold doors open for others and how you give up your seat for them. Thank you for serving others in that way.” “Daughter, I see how thoughtful and helpful you are and I really appreciate it. You also have an enthusiasm for life that is contagious. I’m excited to see how God uses your personality for His purposes.”
We can miss out on these moments if we are waiting for the picture perfect scenario or just the right words. I realize we won’t find ourselves sitting behind a waterfall very often, if ever, but we can take a moment to bless our children as they brush their teeth, wash their hands before dinner, or as we tuck them into bed.
It’s okay if your words are a bit jumbled and you feel awkward, but I dare say your kids will only remember the gift that you bestowed by blessing them with living giving words.
Turn Errands into One-on-One Time: Many outstanding moms I know spend time alone with each of their children. I have always liked this idea but the practicality of it has proven difficult. We don’t have a large amount to spend on parent/child outings and we don’t have a lot of free hours to make it happen. So, we came up with a simple solution. We take turns taking a child with us on errands. For me, it’s usually the grocery store. The ride there and back provides opportunity for the child to open up, or just feel special that they have time alone with just me. We might get a $1 treat at a fast food restaurant or pick out a special snack at the store. The point is to be together. Life-changing conversation may not happen, but a bridge is built to your child’s heart by investing in your relationship with them.
Don’t let unrealistic expectations or perfectionistic tendencies keep you from being intentional with your children. As you can see from these ideas, you don’t have to burn yourself out to improve your relationship with your child. It can be as easy as a few seconds of silliness as you pull them in close, or an affirming statement of blessing as you bring them a drink of water before bed, or inviting them to hop in the car as you head to the store for some bread and milk.
Being intentional is not as expensive, difficult, or demanding as we think it is. As we implement simple ideas like these, we deposit positive memories that will serve our children well for a lifetime.
Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her husband, four children and their life in ministry. Through writing, singing, speaking and photography Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She has an album, Echoes of My Heart, and is a writer for God-sized Dreams and Purposeful Faith. She blogs at katiemreid.com and can be found on Twitter @Katie_M_Reid