It’s been a while since my kidos were babies. Lucky for my offspring, smart phones had yet to be invented and my bag cellphone had a 30 minute limit! The technological distractions for parents of young children has exploded. Certainly it is as important now as ever to connect to with babies not only verbally but with eye contact and touch. I’ve seen some parents who easily communicate with their babies and others who feel silly and awkward. One technique that I remember using was what I’ll call the “tour guide” . Babies are seeing the world through completely new eyes. Parents can describe and converse with their babies over almost anything that they see, hear, touch, taste, or feel! I can remember some pretty strange looks in the grocery store, as I talked my way through the aisles in conversation with my than youngsters. The more talk that goes on…the more natural it becomes. The awkwardness soon fades..but hopefully some of the silliness stays!
Well, the holidays are almost behind us. The warm and happy feelings that we get from spending time together as a family, needed end because the calendar says January. Just the opposite is true. It’s a wonderful time, to emphasize ordinary, everyday life traditions.
My family enjoys family meal time. But we haven’t always! We try to get in at least 4 family meals together each week. Several years ago after my husband made some life changes, we made a plan to make eating and talking together a priority. I used to hear lots of complaints—“we’re eating too early”, “I’m not hungry”, “I don’t like that.”, and “I’d rather sit in front of the television”. But, as a family, we all agreed that it was important for us to spend time together and family meals seemed like the place to start. There are no complaints now and certainly no regrets.
Start a family physical activity time. After dinner walks or bike rides are a great place to start. Traditions can easily become habits! May think about trying new physical activities such as bowling, gardening, sledding, ice skating, swimming, or yoga.
Maybe it’s time to arrange for special time with each child. My kids are almost adults and this is still really important. It is important that each child in a family gets “alone-time” with a parent on a regular basis. Volunteer or plan a community service activity as a family. Every community has unique needs that you and your family can help address such as picking up litter, volunteering at a nursing home, planting flowers for an elderly neighbor, or buying a toy for a needy child at Christmas.
What’s important is making your family important. What better way than sharing time..at the holidays and every day of the year.
This is a great time of year to tell family stories. I purposely take the opportunity to retell my Grandma Isabel’s holiday story of gratitude each year to my children. The story goes like this… her depression era grandparents would give each grandchild woolen socks with candy and an orange. The gift was welcome to almost all of my grandmother’s brothers and sisters who usually received very little under the Christmas tree. But one Christmas her ungrateful sister Ada complained that they were itchy and she didn’t like them. Offended, her grandparents stopped the Christmas gift giving. My grandmother was heartbroken, but her heart always remembered the importance of being thankful. Her lesson of gratitude was repeated in story form for me each year! I have continued the same story and sharing the importance of the value of gratitude.
My kids look forward to Christmas for 11 months each year! The last thing I want to hear is them being an “Ada” and complaining about is how they didn’t get everything they wanted, but teaching and having a spirit of gratitude instead. Before Christmas, I try to set aside a time to do something for others. They have griped at times…I will be honest…but I know that serving others will help make them into a better people. It’s harder for them to think about their little problems when they see the Bob-Cratchit-sized issues of the less fortunate.