My beautiful friend Carrie, over at Quite Carried Away wrote an AMAZING post the other day about saying "yes" to her kids. Reading Carrie's post really helped me put a name to how I've been feeling as a mom lately: lazy. I say "no" a lot. And I've noticed something; the more I say "no", the more unhappy I am in my parenting.
I said I loved Carrie's post (I'm linking it again to encourage you to READ IT!), but let me elaborate. I know Carrie and her family. The 15 ways she named are PERFECT for her family. Carrie is real and her ways to say yes set her and her family up for success...real success! Often I read articles or posts that are similar to Carrie's and they make me feel like a miserable mother. You know..."I'm not doing enough for my kids", "I yell too much", "I must be the worst mom in the entire world!"...yea, no thanks! After reading Carrie's post (just in case!) I felt inspired! I knew that some of her ways of saying yes wouldn't work for my family, but it got me to thinking about how I can say "yes!" to my own kids!
Here's what I've come up with...
I will say "YES!" to...
1. Independence. My 2 1/2 year old wants to do everything himself. From putting on his shoes to peeling his own banana. Sometimes it seems to take forever! It can be frustrating, but man, the look on his face when he succeeds is priceless! The pride he takes in his own accomplishment is something I want to share with him! I will not rush my boys when they want to be independent. I will not get frustrated and do it myself to hurry us along or "do it right". I WILL encourage them to keep trying. I will say "Yes! You CAN do it!" And, I will celebrate with them when they put their shoes on by themselves...even when they are on the wrong foot!
2. Helping Hands. My boys want to help with everything. If I am doing it, they want to do it too. From cooking, to laundry, to unloading the dishwasher...you name it, they want to "help". Too often I just want to "get things done", and I don't enjoy the process. Unloading the dishwasher is not a "chore" to Sully. It's a way to be a big kid! (See this post to see how our "Chore Chart" works!) So, I will say yes to my dishwasher being loaded and not everything fitting. I will say yes to a light -ok, heavy!- flour dusting on my counters. I will say yes to the process and the time spent with my kiddos teaching them how to do things "the right way"! ;)
3. Music...and NO to TV! We watch too much TV. Plain and simple. Too much TV. But, my boys love music! Thankfully, they love good music too...Dave Matthews Band, Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, Joey Hyde, to name a few! Thank God we started them early! There is a time and place for TV and movies, but not as frequently as we have become used to. I will say YES to listening to music and playing instead of sitting in front of the TV!
4. Messes. Messes can be cleaned up. Mud washes away. Paint can be cleaned off. Blocks can be picked up. Playdough can be squished back into its container. Clothes can be washed (or turned into "play clothes"!). Tables can be wiped down. Carpets can be vacuumed. Usually, the making of the mess is TOTALLY worth the clean-up involved! I will say yes to messes!
5. Trying New Things. I want to raise brave boys! I want them to have a sense of adventure! And, I definitely do NOT want them to live in fear of the unknown! Trying new things can be fun! Example: I had heard that when you blend up frozen bananas it turns them into the texture of ice cream. I wanted to try it, but just didn't. Sully saw Daniel Tiger (LOVE him!) and his mom make Banana Swirl (blended, frozen bananas) and I thought, "hmmm...SB would love to try something that Daniel Tiger does!" (Plus, the whole show was on trying new things.) We tried it. It's delicious! We have made it almost every day in the last week! We tried something new, and it's great! The best part? Sully calls is "banana squirrel"! I want the boys to never be afraid to try new foods, games, art projects, sports, places, etc. It's not considered a fail if you try, right!? I will say yes to trying new things!
6. Snuggles. Kids grow up so fast! Why didn't anyone tell me that ahead of time!? (Just kidding...I hear it from strangers everyday!) I love snuggling my boys. They love it too...for now. But, someday they might not want me to snuggle them. I love snugging, kissing their sweet faces, tickling their big fat bellies, and smelling their baby heads. I will not miss out on this just because I want a little space. (Sully told Chris today that he "needed a little more space". O little mirror man!) I will affirm my children and their need for comfort and reassurance. I will say yes to snuggles!
7. Generosity. God calls us to give to others freely and joyfully. I want to set an example for my kids by doing this myself. I want to teach them early to give generously to everyone in need. I will say yes to generosity!
8. Praying. Lately, at meal time, Sully will wait patiently at the table until we are all seated with our food. When we all get to the table he will ask me or Chris, "Pray?" He then tells us all to hold hands. Even Harmon will stop eating, grin from ear to sticky ear, and hold our hands. Then, Sully will pray, "Dear Jesus, for food, God's army, Jesus name, Amen." (Translation: Dear Jesus, Thank you for our food. Thank you for God's army. In Jesus' Name, Amen.) After saying "Amen" as a family, we can eat. Occasionally, he will ask us to stop eating, hold hands, and pray again. And again. And again. It would probably be the most heart-warming thing in my day, if I wasn't so hungry! The Bible says to live in a spirit of prayer, to pray without ceasing, and to pray in all situations. We are to pray in times of need, joy, pain, anxiety and everywhere in between. I want to teach my boys early how to be in constant communion with Jesus through prayer. I'm learning this way too late in life, and it can be a hard habit to create! I am hoping that if it becomes a habit for them now, they will turn to Jesus in all circumstances as they grow. I will say yes to praying!
9. Dancing. We love to dance. What a great way to be silly together, move our bodies, and make us happy! Plus, it's a great way to get some extra wiggles out! I love the joy on my boys' faces when we dance around the room together...or their laughter when I dance around the kitchen by myself! I will say yes to dancing!
10. Stories. I love to read. I want my boys to love reading also. Reading books or making up stories is such a great way to develop their growing, spongy little brains! (Story tangent! At Christmas when we asked Sully where baby Jesus was born he would say, "Inside a barn in the country!" Anyone else LOVE that book!?) Reading is a calming one-on-one time with my boys, and making up stories with them is so hilarious! I will say yes to stories!
11. Art. "I hang it on door, mommy?!" This is what Sully asks when he is done with a piece of art. He takes so much pride in his art work that we have a door dedicated to art! He can hang anything up there that he wants with the magnet of his choosing. He gets to be creative and I get a peek into that amazing mind of his! I want to show him I am proud of him, and gushing over his scribbles is a tangible way I can do that. I will say yes to art!
12. Listening. They always want my attention. Sometimes it's exhausting, but usually I'm just being rude. Mommy confession time...usually I'm playing on my phone. What an awful message I've been sending my boys! My phone and its gadgets are NOT more important than the little human beings in front of me! Sully may be repeating the same question for the 22nd time, or Harmon may be playing peek-a-boo for the 11th time that hour, but if it's important to them, it is important to me! If I practice listening now, maybe -o, just maybe!- they'll keep talking when they're older. I will say yes to listening!
If you've made it to the end of this, I applaud you! I am not perfect. I will fail. I will say no. But, I will also try. I will do my best. I will say "YES!" to my handsome boys, Sullivan and Harmon. This list will work for my family, but it might not work for yours. That's ok. :) We're all different. But, we can all say "yes"!
I hope you'll leave a comment on how you plan to say "yes!" to your kiddos!