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Monday, November 4, 2013

Thriving Families

A few months back, a dear friend posted a link for a free parenting magazine on her Facebook page. I was pretty excited because I think she's a fantastic mom and person so I looked into it immediately. I glanced through the Thriving Family website and liked what I saw so I decided to sign up for the magazine. It comes every two months and I always look forward to it. Thriving Family covers a variety of touchy issues such as pets in heaven, truth-telling, cultivating compassion in our children, weaning kids from the e-pacifier, age appropriate chores as well as games and recipes. It covers so much ground and is good, sound advice. You can sign up for Thriving Families here.

I wanted to share the free magazine with you all as well as ways I keep my family thriving. To me, having a thriving family is a journey. It isn't just one action or event that makes you thriving. It's an ongoing attempt to help your family be the best it can be. Here are the things I do:

1. Prayer
I start my day in prayer because it centers my eyes on the Lord and reminds me of my true responsibilities here in the world. Furthermore, it just helps me feel better and more confident knowing that I've brought my concerns to God. Even if it's just a simple "Lord, bless this day and my efforts."

2. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh
When things get really intense at my house I try to bring some laughter into the situation. I'll choose a silly story to read to my kids or we'll talk about a particularly funny memory. If you don't laugh, you'll cry!

3. Drinking Enough Water
Water consumption is very important to keep your mood boosted and hunger pangs at bay. It flushes toxins from the body and can help relieve tension headaches. If I'm feeling a little grumpy it's typically because I've overindulged in coffee and haven't had any water. 

4. Getting Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is such a precious commodity in our society. It seems that most of us just don't get enough sleep. We're overwhelmed by technology, which keeps our brains buzzing and can disrupt sleep. I try not to ignore my phone and computer for at least an hour before I want to go to sleep. This gives my brain a chance to slow down and not be stimulated by the light from the screens. I am guilty of falling asleep with the tv on, which is very disruptive to sleep. I've always believed a good day starts the night before with a good solid sleep. When I stay up late then I'm sacrificing having a good morning and enough energy for the following day.

5. Rest Time
My son went through a period of time where he didn't nap. It really was difficult because I had a new baby and I really needed that time during the day to catch up on chores or take my own nap.  I survived that period by putting everyone in the car and taking a drive. Both kids would fall asleep and I would just park in our driveway and read or pray. My son physically needed the nap and I needed a mental break. I decided to start sitting in my son's room with him to help him to fall asleep in his bed. It was the same frustrating routine every day: eat lunch, read stories, lay down. But instead of him falling asleep he would toss and turn, talk to me and make other random requests for different items. Sometimes it would take two hours to get him to fall asleep (if he even fell asleep at all!) and then the baby would wake up. I was so frustrated because I wasted two hours trying to get him to go to sleep and still didn’t end up with having the downtime I really craved.

I started noticing that around 3pm every day he would get really quiet and sit on the couch looking at books. I decided to try putting him down for a nap at 3pm instead of 1pm. Guess what? It totally worked. As it turned out, he really wasn’t ready for a nap at 1. 3pm was the magic time for us. It takes a little finesse to keep the baby awake until then but as long as she gets a tiny nap in the morning then she can take her second nap at the same as my son takes his. 

By observing my child, I was able to solve the issue of him not napping. If your child is too old for a nap then start including rest time into your schedule. Start small, say 10 minutes, and then extend the quiet time period until everyone feels refreshed. Your child could simply play or look at books in his or her room, just as long as they don’t come out. If your child has dropped his nap or seems more challenging to put down for a nap then reflect on your day. Maybe he or she isn’t getting enough physical activity or misses you. Some children may start wanting their backs rubbed or having a story before nap. Quiet time in my day helps me refocus my thoughts and energy. 

6. Giving Up Distractions
My biggest distraction is my phone. I have fun games, a camera, Facebook and Pinterest all on my phone, among many other things. Being a stay-at-home-mom, my social life is lived out mostly through Facebook. I rarely get a chance to see my friends or even call them on the phone. It’s so easy to check out what everyone has been up to through my phone. However, it is SO unnecessary and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I had gotten into a really bad habit of always having my phone nearby and I had to stop it. I deleted Facebook from my phone and gave myself a couple of times each day to check Pinterest. I stopped taking so many pictures too. Even though I wanted to capture every beautiful smile, funny face and exciting accomplishments of my children, it ended up just encouraging me to pick up my phone even more. I started leaving it upstairs instead of bringing it with us all over the house. It has helped me to really engage with my children instead of being distracted by my phone. It’s one of the best things I’ve done to help my day go more smoothly. My children no longer have to compete with my phone for time and attention and I don’t drop it nearly as often.

7. Educating Myself
I have an associate's degree in Early Child Development so I am naturally interested in educating myself as a parent. I read a couple different parenting magazines and follow some great blogs to keep my mind open and see how other moms are handling different situations. When a situation arises that I have no idea what to do then I'll do a simple Google search to find out possible solutions. (I often post links to great articles on our Facebook page so make sure you like us!)

As a mother there are so many pressures that fall on our shoulders and it can be so overwhelming. I hope that Thriving Family magazine can help you as much as it helped me. We must be ever-changing in our methods because our children are ever-changing. What routines do you implement into your life to help keep your family thriving?

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