I’ve never been good at gardening. Taking care of plants does not come naturally to me. What I really want is someone who understands the love language of nature to teach me what to do to keep my plants and flowers not just alive, but flourishing.
It is easy to think that motherhood is simply about making sure our kids have what they need to stay healthy, clean, and fed. We exhaust ourselves meal planning, scheduling, homework helping, carpooling, cleaning and making sure we won’t run out of diapers before our next grocery run. We have lists and to-do’s and need-to’s and sometimes it can feel like just keeping our kids alive is overwhelming enough!
But how can we create a family that doesn’t just survive, but flourish?
Let me break it down as simply as I can. Through my own experiences as a mom, I’ve learned that…
Children have two basic needs: milk and honey.
The “milk” refers to the basic needs of a child: food, drink, general hygiene, clothes, rest.
The “honey” refers to the sweetness of life, the treasured things that make life enjoyable, meaningful and special. The honey is the seed of oneness that when planted blooms into something altogether lovely. The honey is what memories are made of and where bonding begins.
Just like a garden…oneness, togetherness, bonding and relationship in a family doesn’t just happen, it is cultivated. It takes intention, pursuit, effort and patience.
I want to pass along some ideas for how to not just focus on the “milk” but how to make “honey” and create sweetness in your home.
1. One On One Time: We have a large family, so this may matter much more to me than to those of you who currently have one child. Regardless of family size, the idea is the same. Spending 5-10 minutes of intentional one-on-one time with just one child can lift the most downcast spirit, restore the most broken relationship, and can soften the most angry heart.
Ex: take a short walk, sit on a curb in front of your house, take just one to the grocery store with you, pick some flowers together, put the other children to bed and keep one up a little bit later.
2. Don’t GOSSIP!: Be careful to hold your tongue on the negative, and be sure to let it loose often with the positive. As parents we must never ever speak poorly about our children. You can crush not only a spirit but kill the relationship with criticism, sarcasm, and ridicule. I know it’s easy to call it “relating,” or label it as “asking for help,” but may we never speak of our children in a damaging or belittling way. Guard your words carefully. Guard how you tell stories to other people. Instead, choose ways to speak well of them, not only outside of the home but inside as well. Speak in a way that if overheard they would feel a sense of encouragement, pride, trust, love, and affection.
Ex: If someone else tells a story and asks if you can relate with your own kids, respond in a way that keeps the focus on you, rather than exposing your child.”Yes, I can relate to that, but I know that when my kids behave that way I can really overreact.” or “Kate, that is so kind of you! Thank you for loving your brothers like that.” or “Corban is the BEST sharer! It melts my heart to see how generous he can be with his toys.”
3. Get Silly!: Don’t be afraid to put on some music and have a few dance parties. My kids love when I get on the floor and play “puppies” with them. Games like hide and seek or twister that get everyone involved can be so much fun! Letting them see you loosen up will be memories they’ll remember and talk about for a very, very long time! Trust me!
4. Let Them Help: I love to build, paint, and craft. Bringing my kids into those things that I love does slow it down for me, but it is so worth it. My two year old even knows how to bang real nails with a real hammer into a real piece of wood! He also knows how to empty the dishwasher and switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Letting (notice I didn’t say making) them help is a joy for them. Including them in a task or a project and taking the time to slowly teach creates amazing memories AND a helpful member of the family!