Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5 things to do for your kid(s)... every day

You are your child's greatest influence.
(Original illustrations by Mateo Waite for love, -j.)

Being a parent is the role of a lifetime. It's also the hardest thing on the planet to do well. Some days are triumphant (like last night when I convinced my 4-year-old it was better to tell the truth than lie). Other days you feel like you are holding on for dear life (when same 4-year-old rolled her eyes at me like a brooding teenager). And then there are those moments you want to preserve in a bottle and carry close to your heart for the rest of your life (like every time I sneak into my children's room at night to watch them sleep).

In an almost-decade of motherhood, I have found these five things helpful in my parenting toolbox. I hope you do, too. 

Affirm them

Make it a point to share something positive at least once a day -- like what makes them special, what they're good at or why you love them. It could be something as simple as, "I really like the way you make your bed," to the more profound: "You are special to me because there is no one else like you in the universe."

Talk to them (really talk to them)

Wisdom once told me: "This should be the most important goal when you talk with your child -- he should walk away from that conversation thinking, 'My mom sees me. What I say and do, my hopes and fears, really matter to her.'" 

Encourage them to dream

Let your child believe there is nothing in this world they cannot accomplish -- because in fact it's true and a belief one sadly loses as an adult.

Hug them, hold them, kiss them

A simple touch can speak a thousand words. Plus, you can't hug or hold or kiss a child too much. No such thing.

Pray for them (and with them)

When I was a child, my mom taught me how to pray ("Often, with a grateful heart and humble spirit," she told me). In our house, it's become a nightly ritual to pray with the kids before bed. "What do you want to talk to God about?" we ask them. It could be anything. Something they were grateful for at school. A request for more Barbies. A prayer for a sick friend. 

Once in a while, with the mad rush of baths and teeth brushing and pajama slinging, we'll forget to pray. "Wait!" they call out from under the blankets. "We forgot to talk to God!"

"Dear Jesus," my son prayed the other night. "Thank you for this comfy bed. Thank you for my snuggly Pillow Pet. Thank you for food to eat every day. And thank you for the whole earth."  


Illustrations by super-talented 7-year-old Mateo Waite for love, -j. Thank you, Mateo. You rock!!