I know this time of year is crazy busy for everyone. If your kids are in school, you’ve got school plays, award ceremonies, pool parties, plus teacher gifts to consider and grades to maintain. Those of us who homeschool have it easier in that arena, but since I am also employed by a public school, I’ve been keeping up with the teacher side of things, which also includes grading and paperwork and tying up loose ends to prepare for the Fall.
This has all come after a long season of illness and health troubles.
And in the middle of it all, we added the chaos of a cat to our home.
What were we thinking?
I realized the other day, as I was super annoyed with my children, that it had been a long time since we had just been together. We have gone to the fair together and to parties together and have spent a lot of time in the car together, shuffling from place to place. But we hadn’t had enough quiet to connect.
I am eagerly awaiting the official arrival of Summer Break, when the kids and I can snuggle and bond and play outside together–but while I tie up the last few strings, I’ve picked a couple of things to do with each of them to connect.
Tell them what I like about them.
I’ve taken time this week to praise each of my kids. I remind Bubba that he’s a good brother, that he’s kind, that he’s patient and smart and that it’s so fun to watch him figure things out. I tell Sissy she’s beautiful and bright and that I love listening to her make up creative stories and tend to her dolls.
Listen to them.
I have a lot of growth I need to do in this area, too, especially when they want to tell me one more thing about something I’m not interested in. Much of the day I end up “uh-huh’ing” my way through conversations with them, so I have been working to intentionally listen and figure out what they mean and why it’s important to them. I am trying to ask good questions to get stories out of them.
Look at them.
One day last week, after several busy days in a row, I realized that while I had looked at my kids, I hadn’t really seen them. I don’t mean in a metaphorical sense–I mean our eyes hadn’t locked, we hadn’t had a real face-to-face conversation. I have been working on taking time each day to look away from all of my tasks and into their faces.
Bonus: Watch Them Sleep
I don’t know what it is about sleeping littles, but it is sure good for my heart. I like checking on them before I go to bed, and whispering prayers over them. Even in the bustle, they are so important to me, but sometimes it’s nice to quiet my heart while they’re bodies are quiet and to thank God for them and pray for their futures.
How I Plan to Increase Connection
It is clear that we need more margin in our life, although I think I will likely feel that way most Mays, as long as I’m doing this job. Next week and over the Summer, I plan to build in some fun day trips and projects and in-home fun–but I want to remember that at the heart of all of that, I also want my kids to have me, and not just the experience. For us, that will mean that we increase our rest time (so the kids aren’t cranky), that we rebuild our quiet time habits (so mama gets a chance to recharge), and even our meals (so our bodies are properly fueled). And I’ll look to see my children, not just as people I’m responsible for, but for beautiful souls, unique individuals, images of God.
How awesome is it that we get to parent little image-bearers? What a privilege and responsibility!