Monday, December 17, 2012

Taking Care of Our Corner of the World Part 1: Our Home

The events that transpired on Friday are indescribable.  Words like horrific, tragic, and terrifying don't even begin to touch the surface of what happened.  Innocent lives taken at a place that is to be safe, fun, and filled with learning should simply just not happen.  Unfortunately, this is the reality of the society we live in today.  Where have we gone wrong and what can we do as parents to try to right some of the wrongs in this world?  It's a very loaded question that I certainly won't pretend to have the answers to, but I've sat and thought a lot about this over the weekend and have decided to reflect on some of my thoughts.  I know not all of you may agree with some of the things that I have to say, but that's okay.  To each his own.

A friend of mine posted a wonderful thought on Facebook that day.  To summarize, she said that she often felt overwhelmed that she wasn't doing enough to make a difference in the world.  I think this is something that most of us can relate to.  The next statement, however, is what is truly important and an idea that we should all take to heart.  She said, "A wise friend told me to focus on my corner of the world."  Simple, but powerful.

This is the statement that I have given much thought to this weekend.  As a parent, the obvious place to start is our home.  Our children need to feel loved, safe, important, and that we have time for them.  In our society, it seems that most times we are all in a rush to get somewhere or get something done.  I know that I am guilty of this at times, but it is a part of my life that I feel we can and have changed.  Nothing is really more important than greeting my children in the morning by simply saying, "Good morning!  How are you today?"  Our mornings are busy, but it sets a tone that yes, you are loved and I care about how you are doing.  I also think it's very important to sit down and eat dinner as a family.  If both my husband and I cannot be there, then at least one of us should be sitting with our kids and facilitating talk about our day, concerns, and interests.  Finally, we make it a point to put each kiddo to bed independently.  We sing to them, say prayers, listen to any problem that may come up, kiss them good night, and of course, tell them we love them.  I feel like if our lives are too busy to engage in these simple activities, then we need to reevaluate how we spend our time.

I know this may be an area that ruffles some feathers, but it's just our belief.  I have mentioned this before, but the one area that my husband and I have discussed at great length is how we will handle activities outside of school with our children.  We believe that our kiddos should have the opportunity to explore their interests, but within reason.  It seems that all extracurricular activities have begun at such a young age, that we forget that back when we were young, kids weren't playing organized sports at 3.  We were playing with our toys at home.  For me, many activities didn't begin until the magic age of eight.  I feel like our society has become so focused on being the best that, at times, we forget about what's developmentally appropriate.  Parents spend a great deal of time (and stress themselves out!) running children from activity to activity and at events that it takes away from time to just slow down and be together as a family.  We offer activities to our kids and let them explore their interests, but it's within moderation.  One activity at a time with breaks in between.  This is especially important to us, because we have a large family and want to be fair, but not have our lives completely booked up with no time for spontaneous fun!  Just an example:  our oldest son just finished up a basketball session.  He played seven games over the course of eight weeks.  After the holidays, another session begins, but we will not be participating.  Instead, we have told him that instead of playing basketball, we'll be taking them to other fun activities that we can't do if he's playing, since it's in the middle of a Saturday.  I think our kiddos will turn out just fine not being involved in an excess of activities!

The other aspect of home is our marriage.  It seems that once we have kids, it becomes difficult to balance our lives.  Our kids tend to be the focus and our marriage and taking care of ourselves can take a back seat.  I know this is something that I struggle with:  how to divide my time and still feel like I'm adequately taking care of everyone, including myself.  This is an area of my life that I hope to greatly improve upon in 2013, though it will be even more challenging since we'll be adding another little kiddo to the brood.  I want my children to know that they are important, but not always the focus.  It's pretty pathetic when our kids are surprised that my husband and I would actually be leaving them at home and doing something together!  Definitely something to think about:  more date nights!  It is my hope that my husband and I can model what a loving relationship looks like where respect is given to each other.  Setting a good example at home can go a long way in how our children will treat others.  

To close for today, I'd like to recommend a book that a dear friend of my told me about last year.  It is called The Power of the Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian.  When I first got it, I picked it up and read several chapters.  We even used it as a focus for our mom's group at church.  In time, though, I set it aside and haven't given it much thought in awhile.  I've pulled it back off the shelf and hope to work through the book and the study guide over the course of the next few months.  Parenting in this day and age is scary and maybe this book will help in easing some of that anxiety and fear.  Maybe it will invite some conversation between your spouse or friends and help us to understand how we can better ourselves as parents.  

The old saying is true, "It takes a village to raise a child."  Perhaps we can look inside ourselves and really evaluate what may need to change in our lives to ensure that we are giving it our all.  This extends outside of our homes and into our communities.  That's what I hope to think about today and reflect on tomorrow.  May all of your children be safe today and always!  

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