In this national commercial adults are being treated in a way that makes them feel helpless, undervalued and frustrated, that makes them feel like children. When I saw this commercial, I like all of you, could relate to how that feels!
Then I had a second thought. Why would they use children to illustrate what all of us have felt as adults – it is because this IS how children are frequently treated! I know that as loving parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, even neighbors, we don’t mean to do this, but we do.
Get Your Family on the List
Let me give you a really good example of what it looks like when we treat our children in a way that leaves them feeling like the adults in this commercial.
One day I was sewing and this particular project had a deadline. Now I don’t like to sew. I am pretty good at it but it would be on the bottom of my relaxing and fun things to do list. So I was feeling some pressure.
My little 3 year old daughter, Sweet Marie, kept coming into the sewing room and interrupting me. “Mom, I need a drink.” Mom, I’m hungry.” “Mom, Barry is being mean.” Mom, Jenny won’t share.” I can tell you that this and the sewing was really wearing on my nerves. I was ready to spank her. After all she was really bugging me and she could see perfectly well that I was really busy! I decided that if she interrupted me again I was going to swat her.
Of course you know what happened. She came in again and I was ready to carry out my intention. Then I had a thought, “Why not hug her instead!” It wasn’t my thought! Remember, I had a firm intention to swat her. It took me by such surprise that I STOPPED what I was doing.
I turned my chair away from the sewing machine and I looked at my daughter. I picked her up and I hugged her really tight. I hugged her for about 15-20 seconds. I said, “Marie I LOVE you!” Then I put her down and off she went as happy as a clam.
She didn’t come back. Why! Watch that commercial again and it will be clear. The woman at the end is smiling and feeling really good because someone cares. She is on the list. She feels valued.
That is what happened for Sweet Marie and that was all that she really wanted in the first place – to be on the list, to be valued . Our children just want to be on our list, and in our busy life we sometimes erase them off. Oh, we cook the meals and clean and maintain order and manage our family, but our children and our relationship with them is not on the list. We often don’t make time to let them know that we “see” them, “hear” them, and value them.
Five Tips for Family Time
Here are 5 tips that will help you let your kids know that they have a place on your list. Here’s to happier summer days!
- Take a hard look at your calendar – We all have good things on our calendar. However, are there so many goods that there isn’t room for the best – time with your children? Can you pare down the classes, lessons, team activities and community and church responsibilities? Ask yourself, “What happens if I/we don’t do this?” If you’re doing a task out of guilt or habit, take it off your calendar. Figure out what your priorities are and pursue those. Something has to give.
- Involve the kids – I know, I know, it is simply easier, faster and more efficient to do things by yourself. But there are advantages to including your children a few times a week. Gardening together, folding laundry as a group and tidying up the yard as a unit are ways to kill two birds with one stone. If you make it fun it won’t seem like work, it will seem like a family activity.
- Turn off your digital devices, ditch technology – just for a while. Have technology free moments everyday. For example, maybe you have a TV, computer and no phone hour just before bed. When you are willing to let go of technology for even short amounts of time you will be surprised at how much time you can open up for family.
- Make a date with your family and then keep it. When things are planned they tend to happen. When they aren’t the world crowds in and they get put off. If you have a family evening once a week then consider that sacred time. If you decide to have a game night, don’t let anything else interfere. If you decide to walk one evening a week, make sure it happens. It doesn’t have to cost money, take a lot of time or preparation but you do need to be consistent. That will go a long way to saying, “You are on my list.”
- Realize you won’t get everything done. A to-do list is unending. It will never get done. Laundry is forever, so is cleaning and cooking. The yard always has to be mowed and snow has to be shoveled. So lighten up a bit. Let some things go, short term, and make space for your family.
What strategies do you use to make time for your family? Please share!
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