" to send them off feeling loved"
This is the intention I have set for this fall
... and only a few weeks into our new school routines, this hasn't always been easy. Preparing our young children for daycare, elementary school, after-school programs & sports teams can be a daunting task for parents, busy parents.
Let's make it easier & get out of their way.
I catch myself - many mornings, hustling around our home under the guise of helping my children get ready. I'm searching for water bottles, picking up pencil cases, packing lunches, heating up oatmeal, and best of all... worrying out loud about the evenings activities & our family schedule. (there's a pit in my stomach as I write this list and I can almost feel the energy it creates in our home, the energy I had been creating in our home)
A few new strategies now anchor my mornings - they're still new, but I'm trying.
1. Slow Down, Step Back & Notice Them
"You popped out of bed awfully quickly this morning, great job!"
"Thank You for feeding the dogs all by yourself this morning."
"That's a neat outfit, very fun socks!" (warning: this statement is NOT recommended for the preteen as it will likely cause an audible huff, sigh & eye roll, followed immediately by a wardrobe change)
We are often so quick to jump to our to do lists, morning routines & work/life hustle that we miss our children in the morning. The endless list of 'things' that need to get done can blind us from being present and seeing our children, especially first thing in the morning. Our hustle, multitasking & over-functioning prevent us from connecting.
Find one small way to notice your child each morning. This is also you connecting with them, allowing both of you to experience the warmth, the calm & the love that is exchanged when you are present.
"You ate your breakfast so quickly this morning, that was amazing."
"Thank you for helping your brother." "Your binder looks so organized, nicely done buddy!"
2. Family Meetings
(thank you for this idea Ross W. Green, author The Explosive Child )
One of my ALL time favourite strategies & tools to grow a collaborative connection with your children.
We are trying to have them weekly. It's an ambitious goal, and the first one failed miserably. It was too long, too serious & too parent centric - I think I was TOO excited.
Our meetings have been on the couch, at the table, in the hallway, at bedtime, on Sunday afternoons, in the car or even at grandparents houses. It just means that our team/family needs to come together! As our children grow up, we are finding that they are wanting more opportunities to contribute to our family decisions; if/when we make plans to have friends over, bedtimes, meals, weekend plans, movie night choices, chore lists... It's been a bit of a tough transition for us as parents, but I'm happy to report that one of my kiddos reminded us to have our meeting week 3, and meals are being enJOYed so much often (with even a few thank you's!!!) because they are excited to see their suggestions come to life!
The where doesn't matter - but the how is pretty crucial. It's a shift from talking to our children, to talking with our children. When we slow down, really listen & honour their ideas it's pretty magical, for all of you!
3.Set your intention!
How do you want to start your day?
What energy do you contribute to your home, your mornings and your family?
I am so humbled when I acknowledge that it's often ME who brings the chaos & the worry. This is absolutely the opposite of what I hope to bring, or want my children to feel in our home. Taking the time to reflect on my patterns, my hustle & my energy helped me see how tightly wound I was to start off our day.
"to send them off feeling loved"
I repeat this to myself many times each morning; when I feel stretched between my kiddos, when I feel rushed, when one of them is grumpy & refusing to help/eat/listen/get dressed... This has helped me slow down, check my own energy (BREATHE) and accept each of my kids, each morning, exactly as they are, on that day. My acceptance, my calm, my effort to step back & notice them - all create connection. There's no better antidote to challenging 'behaviour' than connection.
Jenn is a Child & Family Therapist for the Counting Butterflies Wellness Tribe. With over twenty years of professional experience in Child & Family Mental Health, Jenn is skilled at joining and navigating families to grow and thrive. Her specializations include Play & Attachment-Based Therapy, and is passionate about supporting the social-emotional needs of children aged pre-school through early teenage-hood.