What do your kids REALLY NEED?

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Lately my husband and I have been back and forth on our concern about moving our ten-year-old daughter from a home she loves and the close proximity to her cousins and family for an out-of-state job position.  We are in the middle of making the decision to keep a steady income with the possibility of moving or taking a less paying job and staying. It has been a roller coaster of pros and cons. So I thought I would do some research on what children really need…their REAL needs vs COMFORT needs. So, here are some of my findings, mixed in with my own thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these ideas will help encourage you to invest a little more in the children within your life.

CONVERSATION: I strongly believe kids need to be heard and when you truly listen there is a stronger investment in the relationships. Talk to your kids regularly, don’t be too quick to fix their problems or tell them what you would do. Listen and allow them to get out their feelings, to see that you are truly engaging in their needs and concerns. This will help them to always open up and talk.      Try and see yourself in their childlike shoes. What may seem like a small problem, to them may be a big experience—listen and empathize. Help love them through.

Tips & Tricks: Have a highlight moment of the day & ask your kids what were the highlights of their day.  Play a get to know you even better game in the car & have fun questions for one another. Have fun family questions on the dinner table to pick and choose from when you have a quiet moment together.

CONNECTION: I have heard time and time again that kids who feel closely connected to their parents that they want to cooperate. There are many things to consider when talking about connection like play, hugs and affection, getting rid of outside distractions, etc.      It is easier to ask your child to get out of bed in the morning if you spend a few minutes snuggling in bed with them or read them something inspirational before sleep. My daughter loves it when I tickle and rub her arms, we also have personal back scratches that create waterfalls, rainbows, rose petals, raindrops…that help soothe and relax her. Its a good way to connect and help her feel safe.          Be present with your child. Focus on being with them then and there. You only have so much time with your child until they are all grown up and move on, so be with them, listen to them, connect with them on any and every level.

Tips & Tricks: According to many sources—people needs 8 hugs a day. So think about, plan it out and give those hugs to those you love…morning, noon and night, just because & always to say “I Love you.” I came across a good quote to remember Focus on CONNECTING, not just CORRECTING. 

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.                We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”  -Virginia Satir

PRAISE & APPRECIATE: Notice the little details in moments of greatness. When you as a parent are awarded a piece of art done by your little one, take a moment and look at the details, comment on the great use of colors, the pattern, the background. Don’t just respond with “great drawing.”      Always try to point out the good moments in any situation. My daughter is constantly at odds with cousins touching her stuff and playing with things without asking. I have to talk her through those moments & point out how well she handled the little kids with kindness and patience.      Make sure you take special moments to praise your little ones in front of your spouse. Since my husband travels a lot it is fun to sit down together and talk about all the highlights he missed while he was gone.       Be silly & make some noise–kids really do LOVE the attention when you yell their name as they jump out of the car and run to the school or when they are performing and you whistle loud and scream their name.      Create moments of celebration–whether you have a special dinner in honor of entering reflections, or give a gold coin for good behavior, honor your child for being the special person they are.

Tips & Tricks: Have a special spot (fridge, personal bulletin board, special shelf) to allow children to shine and share their artwork or a outstanding test.  Make a special book each year that you include their artwork and special tests, write a special letter & make it a cherished keepsake.

PLAY:  have nicknames, special handshakes & songs you make up together. Play creates moments of rituals and tradition. We have special songs we sing for Halloween that we made up together, we have recently created a special “Fairy Day” for the first of May, because fairies have been a special addition to our whimsical world of imagination. My daughter comes home with fun handshakes and teaches them to me & our nicknames go on and on depending on the mood of the day.

Tips & Tricks: Take time to create moments of play together—make fairy houses out of sticks and acorns, tickle each other for the television remote, put puzzles together and make candy bets during card games. Have fun and PLAY!

QUIET TIME: Have some special quiet time as a family. Take 15-30 minutes or more and sit down together–read, write in your journals, meditate, go on a walk, do something that takes you away from the noise of the day. Children need your undivided attention, but they also need quiet spaces.     Your time and attention is so vital to the relationship between you and your child. Taking this time together will be able to mend wounds, heal hurts, create moments that will open up conversations and will ultimately take care of any need that arises.

Tips & Tricks: Give your child a special place in their room that is a good reading corner. Have a great chair or pillow where they can read, write, be still. My daughter has just began to write in her journal each night before bed. Yeah!!      Create opportunities of quality time with your child. Have a special day each week where you go out together. Have daily quiet time where you just talk or read together.

Additional Tips & Tricks from an Expert: According to Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of No Regrets Parenting–Turning Long Days and Short years into Cherished Moments for your Kids, he said this…

What do kids really need from their parents?

1. Security–Kids must feel safe and sound. This means providing them with basic survival needs (shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm)

2. Stability–Stability comes from family and community.

3. Consistency–Parents must synchronize their parenting. No “good cop, bad cop.” Consistency also means that important values should not be changed casually or for convenience.

4. Emotional Support–Parents words and actions should facilitate kids trust, respect, self-esteem, and independence.

5. Love–Saying and showing you love your kids can overcome almost any parenting “mistake” you might make. Even when kids have disobeyed, angered, frustrated, and rebelled against you, they must know that you love them and that you’ll always love them.

6. Education–Make sure your kids get the best possible education for their future. This, of course, includes school. But it also includes the valuable lessons about life that you provide during the time you spend together.

7. Positive role models–Parents are their kids first and most important role models. Be the kind of person you want them to become.

8. Structure–Rules, boundaries, and limited: Without them, kids are forced to be adults before they are ready, and they lose respect for you and other adults.

Well, I hope these ideas will spark some motivations to do more with your little ones. Happy Parenting.  Happy Day.   -Heather

Your Harmonic Connection

ImageIn the spirit of LOVE week, moments of couples dancing, love songs to be sung…here is to the power of how music moves you. How it inspires us, touches our soul and connects us. Bless you with love this week.

“You know what music is?? A harmonic connection between all living things.”  -Wizard, August Rush

I truly believe this…music holds a key that we rarely tap in to and hardly learn anything about. Recently I heard about Mozart and his ability to almost translate music from the heavens. I was in ah of the thought that someone could have such a divine gift. I instantly downloaded a podcast of Mozart music and began searching for stories and articles on music and the harmonic connection it holds.

I googled information on Mozart and found an article by CBS news about a young prodigy named Jay Greenberg. The article talked of this young boy who has composed five full-length symphonies by the age of 12 (Apparently talented composers might write 5 or 6 symphonies in a life time). The article asked him How is it possible? Jay told the writer (Scott Pelley) he doesn’t know where the music comes from, but it comes fully written—playing like an orchestra in his head. “It ‘s as if the unconscious mind is giving orders at the speed of light,” says Jay “You know, I mean, so I just hear it as if it were a smooth performance of a work that is already written, when it isn’t.”

It was an amazing thought to me, that someone right now (not 200 years ago) is able to hear the harmonious connections between heaven and earth—wow. That is a true gift. An inspired notion of how small we truly are.

I also came across an article about Einstein’s access of Mozart’s gifts. It mentioned how he turned to the simple beauty of Mozart’s music when he struggled with the extremely complicated mathematics that led to the general theory of relativity.

“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music,” recalled his older son, Hans Albert. “That would usually resolve all his difficulties.”

Einstein once said, “that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart’s was so pure that it seemed to have been ever present in the Universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.”

This is pretty powerful information when looking at the deep connection music can literally play within us. I believe when we become in tune with who we are meant to become, this is when our higher power can freely grant us the power that resides within us. When we feel good and feel grateful for the beauties of this life, this is when the music within will play freely and we will soar to the extent God sees in us. When we are in tune to our divinity, this is when we will truly be free.

“When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer—say traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep—it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.”  -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Be willing to sit quietly in a morning hour and ask to be touched within, to hear the trees sway in the wind, to listen to the birds, to feel a higher presence in all things.

Put a little LOVE in all you do.

Image“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

Sticking with the theme of LOVE for the upcoming, grand occasion of Valentines, I have put together some tiny things that we do around our house to show our LOVE. Hope these ideas spark other little ideas to spread love in all you do.

Keep them cuddly: warm up robes and towels when they get out of the bath or shower. Throw a cozy blanket in the dryer when someone just needs to be bundled.

Do something sweet: write a little note (on the napkin or a tiny card) for someone’s lunch–add a fun joke, a sweet treat they will enjoy or a tiny surprise that is unexpected.

Hand writing: When my little girl is nervous about something at school, I draw a heart on her hand to remind her that my love will always be with her.

Hearts & flowers: We are big Dasani bottle drinkers (don’t worry we recycle!) so I write messages on my families water bottles…hearts, flowers, their names, love notes, feel betters, etc.

Dedications: Dedicate a song while you are driving or buy a special song that reminds you of someone you love and share it with them.  (Some good ideas off the top of my head: Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”  Rihanna “We found Love”  Christina Perri “A Thousand Years”   Usher “Without You”   Harry Connick Jr ” We are in Love”   Train “Marry Me”   Colbie Caillat “I do”   Joy Williams “Charmed Life”)

Sign Language: Have a fun personal language that you share with each other. Our family does XO with our fingers or signs I Love You or infiniti hearts, you get the idea. Make your own and make it yours. The love will follow.

Nicknames: Have fun, loving nick names that you call one another.

Make food with love: blow kisses into the meals you make, make heart pancakes, heart shaped brownies, swirl your soup in heart shapes.

Basic Care: make them take their vitamins, drink lots of water and wear their seat belt. It is the funniest thing to watch my parents fight over taking their vitamins, but my Dad simply looks at my mom and says, it’s because I love you. Who can argue with that!

Love Notes: leave little notes of love and appreciation anytime and everywhere. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, the car window, computer screen, under a pillow, etc. A cute text says you care. A fun note taped to their toothbrush that says, you make me smile=LOVE.

Pray and give thanks: pray always with a grateful heart for the little things you receive every day…for running water, for good health, that your child made it home from school, that your husband has a job, that you can run, walk, see the blue sky.

Thank you: Write a nice note on the envelopes of your bills, or on an email to your service providers thanking them for the services you receive. Thank them that you have power, heat, the Disney channel!! smile. smile.

Affection: ALWAYS give hugs and kisses, special rendezvous and intimate getaways

Surround your family with good things: Having beautiful things around helps your heart sing. Your heart=LOVE. Have pretty music playing, buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, have inspiring quotes posted throughout the house, allow lots of light in through the windows

Quality time: I can’t stress this enough!! Go on walks, have reading time together, play games and talk.

Connect: Everyone needs to feel connection in their life, so our relationships are key. Take the time to connect. I am going to include some good Q& A topics to discuss with those you love:

Connect Questions for the one you LOVE:

1. What is something that makes you feel good about yourself?

2. What are 5 things you want to do in your life?

3. Has there ever been anything you were afraid to do? How did you handle it?

4. Some of your favorite things?

5. What trait do you feel people like most about you?

6. Do you feel it is easy to make friends? Do you feel you have good friends?

7. Do you feel you like to be social or would rather be home? 

8. What is a truly great memory for you?

9. What does perfect mean to you?

10. What is a favorite gift you have received?

11. What would you like to do more of every day?

12. Answer this…I am happy when…

13. What do you love about your family?

14. What do you love most about your relationship?

15. Think of a tough time in your life…what did you learn from it?

16. Is there anything you worry about?

17. What do you desire most out of our relationship? (good things, things to work on)

18. If you could do anything, what would it be?

19. What is one thing you would change about your life? 

20. What would be your ideal Valentines day?

Connect Questions for you to ask your Kids:

1. What is your happiest memory? 

2. Why do you like being a kid? 

3. One word to describe you would be _______. 

4. What advice would you give your parents? 

5. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? 

6. What do you like to do for fun? 

7. Tell about a funny time in your life. 

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Why? 

9. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? 

10. What do you love most about your sibling (or being an only child)? 

11. What was the nicest thing you did for someone? 

12. What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? 

13. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? the winter?

14. What would be the ideal allowance? Tell me how you would use it. 

15. What do you think makes a person good-looking? 

16. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. 

17. What is the grossest thing you can think of?

18. What is something you love about your mom and dad?

19. What is your favorite vacation we have been on?

20. What are 5 things you would like to do by the time you are married? (or in your life)

Well, I hope these tiny ideas have inspired you to think of little things you can do to spread the love in your world.

Lots of LOVE to you and yours.    -Heather

Fun ideas for a Couples Bucket List

Wow, Valentines is just a couple weeks away, so I thought the next little while I will post things like couple bucket lists, great information on love languages and fun ideas on how to spoil those you LOVE! Cheers to LOVE WEEK(s)!!

I am going to start with a fun idea that can bring any couple together…a COUPLES BUCKET LIST!! What a great time of year to sit down with the one you love and create a fun list of things you want to do together…for valentines, for the month, week or year.

Take the time to connect. This is a great opportunity to see where your other half desires to be—where they want to go, what they want to do, what aspirations they hold. Sharing hopes and dreams will bring you closer, it will help you focus on one another and the future you would like to create. This is your life together, so take the time to create it, to include those things that matter most and make it a life you will LOVE together.

Here are some ideas I came across in my search…

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Here are a bunch of ideas I found…enjoy! Take a nap together, Couples Massage, Go on a spontaneous road trip together, Write one another a love letter, Walk the beach under the stars, Take a bubble bath, Cook a fun meal together, Make pasta from scratch, Swim at night, Fly a kite together, Travel to exotic places together (you decide where), Share random gifts, Go on a cruise, Visit a piano bar, Go to the symphony or ballet, Make a homemade Thanksgiving dinner together, Make a special dessert like Creme Brûlée, Watch an entire television series together (you decide), Hike the Grand Canyon, Train for a sports event together (Marathon, Triathlon, etc), Ride in a hot air balloon, Read a book together, Get a couples massage, Have a picnic on Lake Louise (or another Lake of your choice), Hug a Redwood Tree, Dance under a palm tree in Hawaii, Learn to surf together, Dress up for Halloween in themed costumes, See a live concert together, Build a fort, Take a specific class together, Release floating lanterns, Let go of a balloon with a wish attached to it, Kiss under mistletoe, Spend a day in cuddling, Make snow angels, Kiss at midnight on New Years, Write our own love story, Drive route 66, Visit a rainforest, Make a video montage of our life together, Sleep under the stars, Learn a new language, Adopt a pet, Take photos in a photo booth, Participate in a flashmob, Color a coloring book, Ride a tandem bike, Go to a music festival, Create nicknames for each other, Stay up all night, Go on a specific roller coaster, Kiss at the top of the Ferris Wheel, Take a tram ride, Have a pillow fight, Hike every National Park, Have special couple kisses, Sing together, Skinny dip, Learn to Tango or Ballroom Dance, Go on a motorcycle adventure together, Ride in a sailboat, See whales or dolphins in the wild, Kiss under the Eiffel Tower, Sleep in a hammock together, Learn to truly LOVE…

The list of ideas is endless, so take the time to create your own list with the one you LOVE.

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Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939, translated from French by Lewis Galantière

A time for family rituals II

What gifts will you give that will make your family come together…rituals & traditions.

Yesterday I began with some family rituals and ideas to help connect your family on a daily, weekly, special occasion basis. I am following up today with some additional ideas to help bring everyone together. 

Alone time:

You can always set aside some personal time and journal, light a candle and listen to beautiful music, go on a walk all alone, etc. Society often makes us feel that it is not normal to want to have some alone time, but being alone is good for the soul. It helps you take the time to revitalize the body and connect with your spirit. Quiet time is quality time.

Bath:

At any point in your day you can stop, light some candles, add bubbles or bath salts, quiet your mind and float in a warm bath. Relax. play pretty music and enjoy the candlelight. When done…blow out the candles and say Thank you.  This is so wonderful for your children as well–helps them learn to appreciate self care.

My daughter did not enjoy bathing or showering, so I decided to make it a special occasion. I light a candle and tell her to relax and enjoy her time in the water. It definitely helps & she is always feeling better when she is done.

Birthdays:

Birthday book: have a photo of the child/adult on the front of the album—inside have everyone–friends, guests, relatives, children write something special within the album (they could bring a photo to add to the album, a poem, quote, memory, etc)

Every year I make a special book for my daughter with pictures from the whole year. I write a special letter inside and make it special. I also try to make a DVD of special videos from the year. It makes a fun gift!

Half birthdays: Some families may find joy in creating a half birthday–some because a child’s birthday is during the summer and can’t celebrate it during the school year or many just want a party every six months. ideas: The child selects ONE present of their choice and they get to go out to a family dinner of their choice. You could also honor them with a half birthday cake or royal treatment for half the day.

Siblings: have siblings create a special card for the birthday. Dollar store gift item that represents sibling.

Birthday letter: Each year write a personal letter to the birthday recipient. You could include special letters from mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc. Give the book of letters to them on their 18th birthday.

Story of the child’s birth: Type it up and share it with your child every birthday.

Little fun ideas: fill their room with two dozen balloons while they sleep, so this is the first thing they see. Have a special thing you add to their cake—Little doll each year, specialty gift, piece of jewelry in cake…

Yearly Picture: Have a special article of clothing, a blanket, a special spot (on grandma’s swing, childhood chair) and take a picture each year in the same place, shirt, blanket, etc.

Include: Favorite birthday breakfast, surprise decorations, no chores or responsibilities for the day, do something they have always wanted to do, special dessert, dinner, etc.

Special School Lunch: check the child out of school on their birthday for a special birthday lunch.

Other cultural birthday ideas: In Mexico Pinatas are always fun for any festivity, in Argentina children get pulls on their earlobes for their birthday, in the middle east there is a special chair decorated with flowers and fun & the child is then lifting and raising it once for each year of life – plus one more for good luck!

Coming of Age: Many other cultures have ways to celebrate womanhood or manhood…here are a few ideas. Quinceañera is a celebration within the latin culture—it is a special party when a young woman is 15. It could have a theme, but a sweet sentiment is the passing of flat shoes to heels.

Or a special daddy/daughter dance OR Mother/son

Changing from child to adult comes with responsibility…you may want to have a special dinner and have a special handing over of more responsibility, a savings account, additional chores (laundry)etc.

Teaching and educating them through this transition is key…helping them make good decisions about their free time, friendships, and personal values. This is when they begin to leave the nest.

Special ritual: have friends and family sit in a circle (represents the flow of life, the never-ending circle of growth)–Have the mother and child hold hands (or joined with a ribbon) enter the circle and the mother says something like this.. “I brought you into this world and our spirits will be forever joined. However, up until this time, I have led you through life and you have listened to everything I said. If you are ready, then today our relationship changes, and I offer my guidance and ever lasting love, but know that you have started down your own path, and may not always listen. I do hope that our new relationship is one of trust, honesty and warmth. You can cut away our old relationship today, but I will always be here for you.”–break the hand holding chain to a loving hug or cut the ribbon as a symbol of change followed by a loving hug.

This might be a nice time for the song to be played or sang, or a prayer said, then the leader can invite everyone to come forward, take a flower from a vase and give it to the teen (who you have seated by now), and tell them what they wish for their future and adulthood.

Adoption:

I like this idea for Foster Kids as well.

Special Ritual: Invite friends and family (if you want). sit in a family circle. Light a pink candle to symbolize the groups love for the child. Begin by thanking the child for coming into this family. Go around the circle (starting with the parents) and have everyone talk about how important it is to have this child in the family and the community. Add feelings (change, worth, new beginnings, etc). Have everyone share something about themself to allow connection and have the new child share (if they want) something about them and their likes…

Appreciation Box: (for parents or child) Have a special box or basket on a specific day “Parents Day” or “Gotcha Day”—-the day a child arrives or a specific day of the year–celebrate with gifts of appreciation and love. The box or basket is placed outside the recipients door and everyone places gifts of love (put cookies, drawings, a letter, object of love, etc) into the box or basket throughout the day. A little twist: you could place the box outside the door in the early morning & everyone has to fill it before breakfast, then the recipient brings the basket into their room to look through & this clues everyone else to bring in breakfast in bed.

 
Dealing with Anger:

Anger Sticks, drum: (make them at family night)

When anger comes–encourage the feelings to be released–pound a pillow, cry, shout (not at others), beat the drum or stick…eventually the anger will fade. Then write down a list of what made your child, your spouse angry. Then together burn the list and release the anger.

Anger corner: Have an anger corner within your home with lots of pillows

Anger actions: Have your child do a special action when they are angry—Volcano, count to 10, etc. This worked really well when my daughter was a toddler and couldn’t express herself very well. I would have her shoot her arms into the air like a volcano and change her pattern of anger. It was great to see her switch from anger and focus on releasing it with her little actions.

Express through drawings: have your child draw or write a story about a person who gets mad and what makes them angry—this will help you understand what is upsetting your child.

Healing a fight:

Have a safe place in the home (fireplace mantel, specific shelf, a room, etc)

Make peace doves as a family–1 per person (paper, clay, magazine cut-out, ornament, etc) & put name on it.

After a fight or argument each person (on their own time) goes to the safe place and writes a letter or tape records their feelings–I feel angry because….. NOT “you’re mean. I hate you”

Then each person will turn their dove with their name facing out to symbolize that they wish to make peace (or you could have a small help sign next to the dove–to symbolize wanting to make peace)

The other person(s) involved can come and read the letter or listen to the recording and write their own.

They turn their dove over–which is a symbol that both with to make peace.

They make a time to talk and to make peace. Forgive and hug.

“Contemporary American families are entropic, meaning they drift toward falling apart,” says William Doherty, head of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Minnesota. “Rituals combat that entropy and help hold families together. Whenever you do a ritual, you are saying `No’ to other activities or people, and becoming what I call an intentional family. Most of us just drift into habits, doing what is most convenient. But ritualizing means to take a hold of activities and ask: does this meet the needs of our family? If it’s something like sitting in front of a TV night after night for dinner, then the answer is `No.’”

 
First Times:

First day of school, first time driving, first job, new school, first sleep over, first speech….

Power Shirt: create a special power shirt that says “courage” or “confidence”–can be worn under clothes.

First day of school: give the ‘courage’ shirt with a stuffed lion and tell your little one “this shirt will help you feel courage and protect you”

New job: the ‘confidence” shirt will give power and confidence

New School Year: end of summer (or new year) light sparklers together as a family and do a special cheer to new friends, new school year—remind them of the special light  within…shine on and be a light to all those they meet.

Have a special family blessing to bless each child as they enter their new year of school. You can have a special blessing chair or give them a special token of best wishes for their first day.

Sweet 16: Special dinner date with Dad/Mom(parents). Give a special piece of jewelry to symbolize letting go of childhood and growing toward becoming a adult.

Decorate their car with cans, signs, balloons in congrats to getting a license.

Cheers to you: Any successes, good grades, making the team, new job. Have a special dinner in honor of the accomplishment. GO around the table and have each person give a cheer of something positive, complimentary, nice about the person, the event, the achievement. Cheers to you!!

Family Tapestry/Project: Create a family tapestry, mosaic table, stone wall (each fabric tile, stone, piece of glass) represents a milestone in the family and is decorated and added to the family project.

 

Well, that is all I am going to leave you with today. I will continue with the family ritual ideas tomorrow. I will include great holiday ideas to share, so make sure you read my part III.

fyi: many of the ideas I share in the family rituals are taken from a variety of places like Barbara Bizou, Real Simple, Family Fun…I just hope a collection of these ideas will get you creating rituals and traditions with your family.

Happy day. Heather

 

A time for family rituals

The very word RITUAL is derived from an Indo-Eurpoean root, means “to fit together”

Family therapist Ron Taffel asked kids (nursery school -sixth grade) “What is your favorite thing to do?” 80 percent–four out of five–cited everyday rituals with their parents.

By using rituals, we help ourselves and our children make better sense of the world. They begin to regard even the mundane—a bath or a family dinner–as sacred moments of connection and togetherness. -Family Rituals by Barbara Biziou

A December 2002 review of 32 studies affirms that family routines (such as bedtime, chores, and dinner time) and family rituals (such as birthdays, Christmas celebrations, and family reunions) are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents’ sense of personal identity, academic achievement, children’s health, and stronger family relationships. From About.comUpdated: November 24, 2003

 
November and December are big months for bringing family together, so I am going to take a few days to share some ideas to bring rituals into your family life.
Take some time to create rituals as a family.

EVERYDAY RITUALS

Make sure everyone is included on creating the rituals and traditions used within your home. The more invested each member is on the planning and creating, the more meaningful it will become. You may go to the soccer games, the dance lessons…but the quality time is within the home. Make the time, plan the memories…its a family thing. Family should come first!

Mealtime Blessings:

“We all know that sharing food is the ultimate symbol of nurturing and togetherness.”

Decorating the table: make the table beautiful—candles, flowers, thought…You may have a special item (goblets, candlesticks, china, decor) that is only used when you eat together as a family.

Prayer: You may want to hold hands while praying, or have a special prayer that you share together.

Breakfast–Use breakfast as a time for a early morning break. Encourage the family to quiet their mind, enjoy the meal before a busy day.

Weekly Family Dinner: Have a specific time each week (at least) to share a family dinner. Give everyone an opportunity to plan the whole meal, the decor, the theme, the job assignments, etc.

Ex: Mom may love a flower theme (flowers, china, manners, dressing up, classical music, etc),

Brother may want a soccer theme (soccer ball center piece, BBQ, game plan for place mats, etc), Sister may want a tea party (tea cups, little sandwiches, dolls & stuffed animals as guests, etc), Dad may want a mustang theme (model cars for the center piece, BBQ ribs, Mustang fun facts for table, 60’s music, etc). Have fun with the planning and the whole idea of family connection.

DInner fun: You can have a family dinner fun…have a jar with random questions or buy the family dinner games Family Time Fun Dinner Games and Activities by FamilyTime Fun–there are even conversation cards.

Family Unity:

Hold a family meeting once a week–schedule the time to be together as a family to talk, to listen, to be with one another. Everyone is free to discuss whatever is on their mind. Report weekly events.

Plan upcoming holidays, activities, ideas that will help connect the family.

You may want to incorporate a talking stick—get together to make the family stick and talk about how  it will be used during family weekly meetings. The idea…whoever is holding the stick has the right to speak. No one is allowed to interrupt or criticize the speaker. Have the family paint their names, decorate it, make it your own. Before incorporating the talking stick into family meetings make sure everyone understands how it is used. This stick is to allow anyone and everyone to share whatever is on their mind (frustrations, good things, or anything they would like to get off their chest) Stress that no one will be criticized or punished for any wrongdoing and that using the stick is not a time to “get” someone else. It is to help share feelings without interruption, to heal hurts and bring connection through emotions and the feeling of safety within the home.

This is also a good way to stop daily arguments or fights—simply tell the children…I do not want to hear about this right now, it sounds like something that should be brought up during our family meeting.

Family Vision Board: have everyone select pictures that are meaningful to them on a personal level (ie: soccer, ballet, new job, a home, a garden, thoughts, quotes, family connection, etc) pick your favorites and create a family vision board that is put somewhere for everyone to see, to think about.

Share history: help your children to know and understand what it was like when you were growing up–what you did and didn’t do, activities you participated in..your history. Kids love to hear stories about you & them!!

Also share the meaning(s) behind symbols within holidays—the symbols of a christmas tree, why eggs are used at easter, candy-canes, etc. The history of different meanings within the holidays.

Weekly Chores and Pizza–have a specific time each week to do family chores together and then order pizza. You could also incorporate daily chores into the overall weekly goal…they do their chores every day and on Saturday night they get pizza.

Play Day–have a weekly ‘play’ activity with the family. Try to make it the same day and time each week and rotate who chooses the activity. Ex: Friday Night Fishing Night—pretend fishing game with fun goodies attached.

OR this could also be a day you keep your kids home from school and play hooky (maybe do this once every six months) and spend the day playing games, eating in bed, doing whatever you want as a family. I call these special days “Mommy/Missy Days” (since I have a young daughter) but you could have a special name for them too.

Date night–This goes for mom & dad–at least once a week, BUT you also need to schedule some “Daddy/Daughter” or “Mommy/Missy” or “Father & Son” “Mommy & Me” dates. Try to take each child on a special date at least once a month—it doesn’t have to be anything huge…a special trip to get ice cream, to go to the mall to window shop, an evening walk…something that just gets the two of you connecting.

Little things–Saturday morning cartoons & a big pancake breakfast, Dad takes the kids to buy donuts on Saturday morning while mom sleeps in, after the dentist/doctor go play skeeball at Chucky Cheese or go for ice cream, a monthly breakfast to IHOP for crepes, create a FAMILY playlist of songs that play in the car (a little something everyone will enjoy), warming up coats in the dryer on a cold morning, or the simple act of throwing a towel or robe in the dryer before someone gets out of the bath/shower, writing love notes on napkins that are going in lunches or a simple “I LOVE YOU” in lipstick on a bathroom mirror at the beginning of the week. Helping your kids with responsibility—chores and allowance.

Quiet time: every evening before bed…homework done, nice music playing, alone time, everyone is quiet…journaling, relaxing, unwinding from the day.

Weekly service: Choose someone who needs a little cheer and make them cookies or take an elderly neighbor their favorite fast food sandwich and shake, take an inspiring note or story to a special teacher or friend.

Shake up your family night: Have a camp-in where you bring in the tent, sleeping bags and light a fire, have smores, tell stories….or make a huge tent in your living room out of blankets and have pizza…OR do something you would not ordinarily do, like go to the symphony or an art museum or see a prof. sporting event.

Play Genie: Grant three small wishes to each family member on starred calendar days. (Be prepared to have quesadillas for breakfast or go to the movies on a school night.)* Real Simple

Bedtime:

Nightime– Saying prayers, reading a book, singing a song or simply relaxing helps ease into bedtime.

Create a ritual to sing a special goodnight song. Give your child a special foot massage while talking to them about the ‘highlights’ of their day. Is there a special story to share or special back scratches.

Special Bedtime Buddy: have a special buddy to help create security and safety through the night.

Highlights of the day: talk about the highlights of the day while unwinding into bed.

Dream Pillow: Make a special dream pillow–you can spray a scent like lavender to help with sleep. This pillow is to help with sweet dreams–if your child talks about fears or concerns with their day, express that sleep will take them away and the dream pillow will bring good dreams.

Nightly Ritual: special foot massage or back scratches

Goodnight prayer.

For adults or older children:

To release the day…No clutter or work in your bedroom. Cover any television or computer screen with a beautiful cloth and begin to quiet your mind.

Have a special journal or notebook to write down any worries or concerns from the day.

Self-love journal: I created a self-love journal for my daughter, a friend and a niece. I wrote questions throughout that would help them reflect on their day, their thoughts, their dreams, their personal ideas, etc. It is a fun gift to give for many occasions. Take the time to write questions they can answer. It will be a gift to themselves.

Breathe in and out. Write your worries. Rip the worries out of your notebook, crumble and burn or toss.

Light a candle and write down everything you accompished throughout your day–things you are grateful for, special highlights…the good things within your day.

You will end up with a beautiful notebook of good things within your life.

Say a prayer of thanks and blow out the candle to let go of the stress and sleep in bliss.

Well, that is all for today. I will continue with more ideas tomorrow.

Happy creating! Heather

 

 

Gratitude Challenge

My first post is about gratitude. I know everyone is talking about gratitude, but I am not sure anyone is actually taking it to heart. So, I am going to put a challenge out there to anyone who would like to join.

THE GRATITUDE CHALLENGE…

November is the month of giving thanks and we often neglect to take the time between the hustle of the holidays to give thanks. I would like to invite you to take a gratitude challenge through the month of November.

Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and each evening before you go to sleep write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. That is it!!

This is also a wonderful exercise for kids. Gather your family around your bed and ask each person what they are grateful for & keep a family gratitude journal.

It is a small thing that will make a big difference. You will feel more connected, grateful, loving, happy and truly be in the spirit of giving thanks during the season of Thanksgiving.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking…grateful for my healthy family, my breath, that I can walk and run, have food readily available at a grocery store, warm home, warm showers, clean drinking water, fingers that can write, to be able to go to school, parents, to be able to see and hear, for friendships, for pets, books to read, inspired people, hugs, someone to love, favorite foods, music, freedoms, sunsets, stars, the sun, to be creative, to have a talent, nature, religion, to make my own choices, the gift of life, etc.

Happy gratitude!
Please do the 30 day challenge and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you felt more happy, connected, thankful.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.