Tired of feeling like a drill sergeant? Focus on fun and watch your family life flourish.
By Catherine Risling
As a mother of two young children, I often find myself circling the parental rabbit hole. Are my kids getting enough of me and from me? Are they well adjusted? Are they really OK?
Forget my life balance—how’s theirs?
This role I took on 11 years ago has thrown me for a loop. I was an older mom, well established in my marriage and career. I’ve got this, I thought. But it became crystal clear that building a happy, healthy and strong family goes so much beyond safety first, stranger danger and good grades.
The challenge has been maintaining a peaceful home amid the daily chaos. You know, work, school, dance lessons, basketball games, repeat.
As summer winds down and we ready for fall, I attempt to keep the whirlwind of activity in check. We take our dog for a nightly walk. Head to the mountains for the weekend. Turn off electronics for the night. Play a game. And most importantly, we laugh and have fun…together.
If you’re floating in the same boat, join me. Focus on your family not the responsibilities that go along with this awesome gift. Here’s how:
Designated family meetings help keep communication open. Are there new rules or chores that need to be discussed? Do the kids have anything they’d like to share or questions they want to ask?
Also, treat each child like an individual rather than grouping the family together. Devoted time is crucial to a healthy child, says Yale School of Medicine child psychology professor Kyle Pruett.
“One-on-one time need not be task-driven to be useful—exactly the opposite,” Pruett writes in a post for Psychology Today. “Time to ‘chill’ is often better understood by our kids than it is by us, and they are often better at it. But you have to be there, with them, devices off, for unstructured one-on-one time to work its magic on both of you.”
Experts agree: Children do best when they feel loved and supported by their parents and other family members.
Certified holistic health coach and author Connie Rogers asserts processed food leads to difficulty in learning when it comes to kids. Forget the cookies and crackers; snacks should consist of fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to dinner, let the kids decide. Help devise a healthy menu, hit the grocery store together and let them rule the kitchen (with your help of course!). Teach your child how to boil pasta and slice tomatoes.
Parents, ultimately, have the greatest influence in creating healthy eating habits. And besides, hands-on learning is way more fun.
Part of our job as parents is to help our children learn to nurture their souls. But what does that mean? For some, it’s meditation. For others it’s church, temple or even nature.
“I know we want our children to be more than consumers and competitors,” author Sandy Eisenberg Sasso said on a recent parenting podcast. “We want something much more. We want our children to be gracious and grateful. We want them to have courage in difficult times. We want them to have a sense of joy and purpose. That’s what it means to nurture their spiritual lives.”
Be kind, be respectful, be encouraging, be forgiving, be compassionate. And your children, in turn, will too.