Those that know me, know I love love. So much so I had my van’s license plate at one point be luv2luv. I’m all about the Hallmark channel, squeezing my children’s cheeks off, and being affectionate.
I believe love heals, communicates, and simply brings joy. We are meant to feel adored and to cherish others. I know families are eternal, so we should be doing everything we can to share in that happiness with one another, because really what is greater than loving someone so dang hard and having that feeling reciprocated.
Everyone is in different phases of life and some of these may not be applicable. If you are on a mission to have more love in your home, take time to ponder on what your greatest desires are and work from there.
Here are just a few actions that I feel make a rich soil for a garden of love to blossom.
The number one action in my book is kindness. This is your home! As a family, each and every member should feel wanted, needed, and welcomed. Home = Unity. We all should be united in lifting one another up and creating a space of growth, fondness, and joy. There is no room for rudeness, anger, or put downs.
As parents, it is our place to make it loud and clear what is expected and what is not allowed in our home. This comes with great consistency and love. The notion that siblings fight and that’s that, is not only untrue but unhealthy. The journal Pediatrics stated, one-third of the children in a study of more than 3,000 said they were victimized by a sibling at some point in the past year, and the victimized children reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, and anger.
Now, I’m not talking about healthy disagreements. Being able to express your frustration and be heard in a productive manner is so important. I’m talking about screaming, hitting, name calling, bullying etc. is not acceptable. Just like you would never let a kid at school bully your child, don’t let your children treat one another that way.
This is such a fun one! Don’t go over board or try to make this a big deal, because it isn’t. Keep it easy!! I love traditions because it creates bonding, memories, and pleasure in life. We enjoy silly traditions that happen often like our “wishing bean” in pancakes. The person making pancakes throws a uncooked bean in the batter and whoever ends up getting it in their pancake makes a wish. Or when we read scriptures there are certain words that we repeat out loud and try to say in our deep voices like “behold, therefore, and it came to pass,” Even our 18 month old repeats them wherever she is wandering around at while we are reading.
Keep it simple and enjoyable. If a tradition stresses you out, annually or more often, don’t do it anymore. It literally defeats the whole purpose of traditions
Express how grateful we are to have one another- Pretty dang lucky, so talk about it and talk about it often. Everyone wants to feel desired and likes being reminded just how glad you are to have them in your life. Tell your children while they’re eating breakfast, during schoolwork, or cooking together what joy they bring to your life. Those special moments don’t need to be grand, they need to be often.
I also express this to my children about one another. How amazing is it to have siblings? Built in best friends. What beautiful connections and joyful memories they are able to create with one another!
We all like being heard whether it is about big or little things, we want our thoughts to matter. And they do matter! Whenever my child is expressing a thought, concern, or frustration, I try to show respect to them by LISTENING. I’m talking about really listening. Eyes on their eyes, my heart on their heart. When they know I care about the little things, they’ll come to me for the big things. When they feel that respect, I truly believe they naturally respect you back. When you speak they care what you have to say, just like you showed them.
Relationships are work and forgiveness is a big part of that. Expectations aren’t met, frustrations happen, and some days we all just annoy each other, right? We have to lead by example by asking for forgiveness. Children are so dang good at it! So, when we screw up simply expressing how sorry you are and that you’ll try to be do better. And then do!
Also, teach your babies to forgive and FORGET. I often sing Elsa’s “LEEET IT GOOOO! LEEET IT GOOOO!”
Now, I know you’ve heard this one a million times, but studies show “eating meals together has the potential to strengthen family bonds as it provides a daily time for the whole family to be together.” It is everything involved that is so wonderful! Coming together to eat good food at the end of the busy day, and each and every person being able to talk and be heard. If you don’t know how to get conversation flowing there are thousands of questions online to to promote some silly, serious, wonderful conversations.
We also like to have each person answer what was the best part of their day was or something they are grateful for. While all this is happening, I’m always trying to listen. If others are trying to talk over one another, I always remind everyone that they’ll each get a turn, and everyone needs to have their mouths closed and ears “turned on.”
Just like my alone time with my husband is THE.BEST.THING.EVER. Alone time with my kids is just as wonderful. We try to keep a set day of the week for dates/one on one time with our kids. This is everything from an actual date at a restaurant, quick smoothies, a swim in the ocean, walks, or playing a game in a room separate from everyone else. It rotates from oldest to youngest and they decide which parent they would like to go with that week. This time is ALL ABOUT THEM. No other siblings, all our attention is on them, just like a date with one another. Our children LOVE this and look forward to their dates and continue to talk about them for weeks after. This is the good stuff that life is about!
Put electronics away
This is such a hard one. We are all so dependent on our devices. They are our alarms, recipes, lists, communication, work, etc. We try so hard to put the screens away! Not just turned face down but faaar away on a counter or upstairs plugged in. Too much screen time causes grumpiness, dependencies, and makes all those who are around us with our faces in our phones like they aren’t our top priority. Make a family goal of no phubbing! “One increasingly-talked-about downside to constantly being attached to a cell phone is phubbing, or “phone snubbing,” a trend that is unfortunately on the rise. Phubbing is basically defined as looking at a cell phone rather than interacting with the person you are with, and research shows that it can damage your relationship with your romantic partner and may also harm your bond with your kids.”
Not only is phubbing an awesome word, but it is so much easier to say, “hey, stop phubbing!” instead of,” hey, I feel like you are ignoring me right now.” I’m totally going to teach my kids this to say if they feel like mom or dad are on their phones too long. NO PHUBBING ZONE! Love it!
Serve one another
Serving others jumps starts our love for them. Seeing their appreciation after you’ve helped in some way makes anyone feel awesome. Providing opportunities for my children to serve one another not only strengthens their relationships with one another but our family as a whole. When I notice a sibling relationship is struggling or could use a little boost, I’ll look for ways they can help one another out. It might be an older child reading to a younger one, or a younger child making someone’s bed. The key is to help them express their gratitude and what they feel serving the other.
Whatever your beliefs are, doing them together is a great way to feel united. Coming together and being uplifted and supported by each other is sacred, which naturally creates a desire to do and be better. This in turn, creates more L-O-V-E! Talk about what you enjoyed learning or discuss a principle you want to work on as a family.
There is so much we can do and put effort in for our children while they grow. We all want the very best of the best for our babies. I believe so deeply that when our children are grown and gone, all that they will care or remember is how we made them FEEL. How we made them feel when they made mistakes, how we made them feel when they had disappointments, how we made them feel about themselves.
Hopefully, that answer is loved.