It’s always time to fill the house with love, right? With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s timely to think about what this means. Sometimes love isn’t just the feelings you have, it’s the actions you take.
I wrote this post last year as I struggled with major (ear) problems that led to 6 ear surgeries in 8 months… You can read more at this post, I’m going deaf today. (I am SO much better now, by the way! Hooray!) When I wrote this post, I was trying especially hard to pour some positive energy into our home! It is always important to focus on being thoughtful, generous, kind and supportive to those around me. So here are 10 ways to fill our home with love…
1. Nourish the relationships around you, no matter how you feel: Ask questions and really listen. This is a huge, important point for me right now… to step away from my own issues and really focus on my loved ones; tune in to them and listen (without distraction) to their hurts, dreams, joys and goals.
2. Find small, thoughtful ways to show love and caring… give a back rub, be generous with hugs, snuggle, be gentle in how I ask things (not to snap when I’m frustrated, exasperated or angry.) Say “Good morning,” “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome” often.
3. Say yes more often: This goes hand-in-hand with the first point about listening, but I have to be conscious about not always putting the kids off. When the kids want to show me something, to come watch their little show, to read them a book (or whatever the scenario) I have a default that goes something like this, “Just a sec,” “Maybe later,” “Can you wait until I finish what I’m writing?” I need to be mindful of their needs (in balance with mine.)
4. Bake something: It makes the house smell nice and sure brings a smile to my loved ones faces!
5. Show the kids how to do something new: This fosters independence, might free up time later (teach a man to fish and all that!), but also builds their self esteem and shows that you trust them. What do I mean by this? Well, show them how to whittle a stick, change the batteries in a flashlight, change the air filter, pop the hood of the car and check the oil together, have the kids make scrambled eggs… You know, something you can do together (of course, depending on the age of your child). What better way to build family bonds?
6. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep and enough exercise: Honestly, everyone knows this, but Hubby and I sometimes fall down on the job. We lose track of time and don’t get the kids to bed as quickly as we should. Hubby and I are often guilty of not turning off the light quite as early as we should. As for exercise, the kids have plenty of exercise time due to their sports, but I need to remember myself in the equation to– to get out and walk, stretch and get the exercise that I need.
7. Make family meals a priority: We make the majority of our meals, but our family does get pretty busy in the evening. We need to sit down together as much as possible. I’ve read a lot of those studies showing the benefits of family meals (you probably have too, right?!): Families who sit down to eat together are healthier; Kids tend to eat more fruits and veggies and less junk food when their families eat together; Family meals contribute to language development; Kids tend to do better in school; Teens who eat family meals together are less likely to show signs of depression (Time). And according to a Columbia Study, teens who only eat dinner together once or twice a week were 3 times more likely to have tried marijuana, 2.5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes and were 1.5 times more likely to try alcohol. (New York Times). There are lots of good reasons for making our family meals top priority!
8. Play some board games: It brings the family together and it’s plain-old fashioned fun. Some of our family favorites right now: Dix it, Bombay, Settlers of Catan, Love Letters (a card game) and Charades for Kids.
9. Read a book together: No matter how old the kids are, this creates a lovely opportunity to share an experience. It’s free, often exciting and creates shared memories without having to leave the house. Right now, I’m reading the Voyage of the Dawn Treader with the kids. Hubby is reading the Harry Potter books (the first one with ED and the fifth one with the older two). I remember my family reading Macbeth together as a family when I was in 4th grade and my sister was in high school. I still remember the creepy lines from Shakespeare, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble,” even though I’ve long since forgotten the main plot of the play! Here are some of our book recommendations for families with elementary kids: Because of Winn Dixie, Ella Enchanted, Island of the Blue Dolphin, Hatchet, the other books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, Pippy Longstocking, Here’s a Penny and the second book Penny and Peter.
10. Family Slumber Party: My kids get really excited when we shake things up at bedtime. For some reason my kids think it’s really magical to pull out all the sleeping bags and sleep together in the living room. They talk about how fun it was for months afterwards. It’s another free, fun activity to build shared memories!