Tomorrow my children will go back to school after three weeks of winter vacation. To be perfectly honest, we're all a little stir-crazy. I feel like I've been running in circles with all the housework, answering to "MOM!" every 30 seconds, and trying desperately to come up with creative activities to keep my children away from "screens" as much as possible (though my husband got to be home for two of those weeks, and he was a big help).
Today I realized that this time with my children has helped me to love them even more. I've gotten to know more about their personalities, we have about 100 new inside jokes, and we have had lots and lots of chances to just "talk." I love that.
(Alia just poked her head in from the garage and said, "Granny Peach strikes again!" and then all the children ran out to run in circles while she pretends she's a crazy old lady. Where do they come up with these things?)
The noise level right now is deafening, and I've got to get going with our evening activities, but I wanted to quickly record five ways I've learned to show love to my family. These methods are absolutely free, they make a huge difference in our family, and they can be replicated in almost every situation.
#1: Write little messages on the mirrors with dry-erase markers. We keep a set of markers in our bathroom for the family to use, and they think it's such a novelty. Here's Alia's latest note to Ethan (he had a high fever this past week):
(It says: "Dear E-buddy, Sorry you're sick! Get well soon! Love, Alia, Mom, Dad, Spencer, and Grace.")
#2: Save a little energy for bedtime. Sometimes I'm so tired at the end of the day, and I have so many things to do before MY bedtime that I rush the children off to bed. I've noticed that if I save about 30 minutes of energy, our bedtime routine becomes the source of our most treasured memories. I had to capture this picture of Eric reading "Going on a Bear Hunt" to Spencer last night in the crib.
#3: Take time to play--even for just five minutes. When I was growing up, my mom and dad always said yes when we asked them to play with us. Sometimes we had to wait a bit, and sometimes we didn't play for long, but they never turned us down. My dad would say, "Someday you won't be around to ask me to play, and I don't want to pass up these opportunities." I've been playing board games, dancing in the living room, making snowflakes, coloring, shooting hoops, roller skating, and swinging on swings at the park lately. It is fabulous. (Spencer doesn't ask ME to throw him in the air. I can only get him up about two inches.)
#4: Don't get mad about messes. We had spaghetti tonight, and our floor looked like this:
The child responsible for this mess (who shall remain nameless) felt terrible and started to cry. We decided long ago not to get mad about the spills inherent with raising a family (well, at least we don't SHOW that we're mad). We cleaned up the mess, soothed the child, and had a great meal. Getting mad just never helps anything.
#5: Hang love notes on the walls. Eric's mom is so good at this. She always makes "a wall" for her children on their birthdays. We tried making one for Alia this week:
We also made a little card for Grace. She was feeling a little unloved because it wasn't her birthday, and she wasn't sick, and she's not little like Spencer, so she wasn't getting as much attention as everyone else. Grace LOVES pandas, and she was so excited to see this in the morning when she woke up. She wanted to keep it posted all week so she can see it whenever she walks by.
All right, typing this blog entry took WAY longer than I anticipated (I know I should wait to do these kinds of things after my children are in bed, but sometimes it's easier to just type in between the questions and kisses and snacks).
I hope these ideas are helpful. It is so much fun to be a mom, but it is also really, really hard to stay patient through the noise and chaos. I'm learning more and more each day, but my hope is that someday my children will look back and know how much they were loved.