Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 21 of Our Fall Home Challenge: Enjoying Our Children, Adult Children, and Grandchildren



31 Days to Bless Your Home, and How to Have Fun Doing It Too!

Week 4: The Fun of Home: Enjoying Our Families

Day 21: Enjoying Our Children, Adult Children, Children In-Laws, and Grandchildren


Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3 NLT

My boys when they were little



As we continue with blessing our homes by building the relationships within, we will focus today on our offspring. Books have been written on the subject, so I won’t attempt an exhaustive dissertation; however, I want to share some ideas that will help you enjoy God’s precious gifts to you.


Children


1.    Routines. One way to build happy memories as well as to prevent many power struggles is to have routines during strategic points in the day. When they know what to expect, they will be more compliant. For example, instead of sending them off to bed with a video, devote some time with them to build their cognitive and memory skills as well as to bond with them. Read together, do devotions and pray, sing songs, make up silly stories or games, or play “Tickle Monster.” Have a special “thing” that is just between you. Do it the same way each night, and they will look forward to their time with you. Then, when it is time for lights out, be firm. Some of my best memories with my children are the bedtime routines we had. One silly thing I used to do was to act like the armoire from Beauty and the Beast. In the movie, she sang operatic and then jumped on and squished the enemy. I did the same to my kids. I would sing a high note and then pretended to fall on them on their beds. They would laugh and laugh! I know, silly!
2.   Structure. When my children were little, I found that they were happiest when we stuck to a basic schedule. I’m not talking about a strict timeline, but in general, allow them to eat, nap, and go to bed about the same time every day. Don’t take them to a hot, crowded store at nap time, for example, and expect them to be cheerful if they are hungry or sleepy. When you capitalize on their best times of the day, you will enjoy being with them more. Be flexible, however, or you will stress yourself out!
3.    Don’t entertain them all the time. Children in this generation have so much stimulation coming at them from every direction, and generally, they cannot seem to be able to stand boredom. Every moment of their day seems to be scheduled, and they are often given the role of being the center of the universe in their homes. This can create self-absorbed monsters. While they do need some undivided attention from us on a daily basis, they also need to learn how to entertain themselves constructively. Don’t overwhelm them with lessons or sports every single day of the week, but allow them some free time to exercise and relax. Be so careful that your children do not become idols.
4.  Discipline. Often we equate the word discipline with punishment; however, it really means training. Take the time to train them in the way they should go. If we give in to their demands as toddlers, we will create disrespectful teenagers. If we love without discipline, we create messes. However, if we discipline without love, we lose our relationship with them. Discipline, or train them in love, and you will enjoy them when they are grown.
5.    Family Fun Night. OK, we have talked about that one already this month, but it is worth saying again. Choose one night per week and have a blast together!
6.   Love Languages. Learn your child’s primary love language and look for ways to communicate love to them that they will truly understand. If your child needs words of affirmation, give them sincere praise. If they need physical touch, let hugs and back rubs abound. Most children are a combination. Learn yours and experiment with expressions of love that seem to really get the message across to them that you love them “bigger than the sky.” For more, I recommend Gary Chapman’s book, The FiveLove Languages of Children.


 
Lunch date with the kiddos when they were young. My how time flies!

Adult Children

My one and only piece of advice here is balance. Give them space to be grown-ups, but don’t forget that they still need their parents. Allow them to be independent, but it is OK to be a safety net while they launch into the world on their own. Be willing to listen and help them talk out problems, but don’t insist that they do things your way. Allow them to make mistakes and learn some things for themselves. Be involved in their lives without interfering. Stay close, but don’t smother. Accept them and be proud of them, but don’t enable or praise bad choices. Don’t harp or nag. Continue to insist on respect, but do treat them like adults. Be generous, but don’t pay their way. They need to build skills to be self-sufficient and independent. Make a habit of getting together regularly. Don’t let too much time go by without talking to them on the phone, but don’t expect to be the center of their world. Now, enjoy your children as adult friends!


Our adult children, their spouses, and one fiance'



Children In-Laws

You are not always going to see eye-to-eye with your child’s choice in a mate, but it is your son/daughter’s choice. Don’t lose the precious relationship with your kids because they aren’t choosing the path you envisioned for them when they were little. They have to make their own way. Welcome son and daughter-in-laws with open arms. Be involved, but give them space at the same time. Show respect and encourage them. Let them do things their own way, even if you don’t like it. Don’t jump on them or speak up every time you disagree. Be kind and treat them the way you would want their parents to treat your own children.

In our family, we have the two Matts married to our daughters, and they are like sons to us. However, we know that they are the heads of their homes, and we must respect that. Our son Bryan is engaged to Ann, and she is my soon-to-be-daughter-in-love. I really love her, and I can’t wait to welcome her into our family! I try very hard not to be overbearing on one end or too stand-offish on the other. Our relationships with our adult children and their spouses are much more important than being right. Stay close.

My precious grandbabies


Grandchildren

I am new to this one, but I love being a grandma! When sweet Parker calls me and says, “I love you, Nanny,” my heart simply melts! Here is something that I have learned that helps our relationship. We have a few things that we do every single time he comes, and he has learned to associate it with me. He walks in the door, looks for the sidewalk chalk and wants me to go draw in the driveway with him. We always have to do bubbles and read the book, Dog Breath, too. He knows I will have cookies in my cow cookie jar and suckers in the pantry. When I cook, he loves helping me. I let him add the ingredients. He can always count on a bike ride too!

Those are our things, but you find what your grandchildren enjoy and give them something to associate with you. Maybe it is to have the same kind of cookies each time in a special cookie jar, or it is a favorite game. Having a “thing” is the key to bonding with them.

Grandchildren can really sap your energy, but if they do not get to visit very often, it is so worth it! When they come, it is all about them! You can take Advil and rest when they leave.


Week Four Challenge: Set aside time to invest in and enjoy each relationship in your family.

Today’s Challenge: Tell your children you love them.


Tomorrow I will be sharing from my heart about enjoying our in-laws. I know that is a tough one for some of you, but this will bless you!


Please follow me at PearlsforLiving.net, and add your email to the right so that you will receive regular email updates. You will not want to miss one day of the fun!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter too, for “daily wisdom from the Bible and life experiences to help us all build God-honoring lives, homes, and families.”

And, if you really want to help spread the word and bless your friends, be sure to “Like” and “Share!” 

Thank you and God bless!
Shari Lewis
image via The Time-Warp Wife











Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 20 of Our Fall Home Challenge: Four Ways to Enjoy Life with Your Husband



31 Days to Bless Your Home, and How to Have Fun Doing It Too!

Week 4: The Fun of Home: Enjoying Our Families

Day 20: Four Ways to Enjoy Life with Your Husband


Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one! Ecclesiastes 9:9 MSG

Face in Hole is so much fun! Here I am with my Prince Charming!


If you have been following Pearls for Living during this fall home challenge, you may have gleaned a plethora of ideas for blessing your home. We have explored the spiritual climate, the sensory atmosphere, and the glamorous side of cleaning, organizing, and decluttering. However, I must emphasize that we cannot merely focus on the physical structure of our homes, or we would miss out on the main ingredient that truly makes our house a home. It is all about relationships!


This week, I will offer ideas to enrich and enjoy each type of relationship we often have in our families. We can so easily become bogged down with busyness, stress, and even strife, and we often do not have ample time to invest in healthy relationships or to enjoy the people that God has placed in such close proximity in our lives. It takes much more than mere desire; it takes intentional effort to make it happen.


I do not claim to be an expert, and some of my ideas may not be new to you. However, what I hope to accomplish is to help you realize the importance of investing in each of our family relationships, and to inspire you to begin enjoying your family again.


Today, my focus is all about marriage. My mother often reminded me growing up that her relationship with my dad was her first priority. That did not mean that she neglected the needs of her children, but she made a point of keeping their marriage strong and to enjoy her time with him every day. They were a prime example to us for having a genuinely happy marriage. I want that for you too!


LOL!



Remember, you are living your life in front of your children. The kind of marriage you model for them will greatly affect the kind of marriage they will have some day. Show them that even though it can be hard work, it is worth it. Marriage can be enjoyed for real! Even though you go through some overwhelming storms at times, when you hold tight together, you will weather the storms and come out stronger than before. Someday when you look back over the course of your marriage, you can have joyful memories to sweeten those difficult seasons if you remember these few things:


1.    Date Night. This is a must! No matter how busy your schedule is or how tight your budget is, this must be a priority. Having a day or evening to look forward to each week is a perfect cure for the mundane, and it will help you get through the stressers of the week without going under. Most importantly, you need to set aside time to let your husband know he is still your knight-in-shining-armor, your Prince Charming, the man of your dreams. Keep romance alive and invest in your marriage. Have fun!
2.    Couch Time. It is so easy to get stuck the mode of our conversations centering around car pools, work stress, financial troubles, and the latest mess our kids have gotten into. We can be so busy with the routines of life that relaxing with the one we love seems to be the one thing we can never find time to do. My husband and I have made it a mandatory rule that we will have at least a few minutes of couch time every single day. On the couch, we give each other our undivided attention. Often we simply sip coffee and talk. Sometimes we watch a movie too, but not until we had some time to communicate first. We start with small talk, but once you have gotten into the habit of talking, it is easier to go into deeper levels of conversation. We don’t want to always keep it heavy or light. All marriages need both kinds of conversation. It will really bring you closer together!
3.   Recreational Intimacy. We have learned how wonderful it is for a marriage for you to find something you both enjoy doing and to do it together. Playing games together is one of the best ways to interact in a playful way and build intimacy on a much needed recreational level. Our favorite things to do are to go to Braves baseball games, movies, plays, or concerts. We also enjoy doing things the other one likes. For example, I may be a horrible golfer, but I would enjoy golfing with him because he loves it so much. He will also endure trips to the museum because he enjoys seeing how much I love it. We just love hanging out and having fun. All marriages need that!
4.   The Bedroom. How sad that so many couples get too busy to make time for this important part of marriage, or they become disillusioned because it hasn’t measured up to their expectations. Often, couples simply give up and learn to do without physical intimacy. Please don’t give up! There are so many resources out there. Make this a priority and give this area of your marriage over to the One who created it in the first place. He can help you! I have learned that when I do all I can to make it wonderful for my husband, that is when it is most wonderful for me. Just think; you are the only person in the whole world who has the right and the responsibility to fulfill your mate sexually. No one else! Think of it as a ministry, and make your man know that he is the most loved man in the entire universe!

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NLT


If you are not married, these are principles you can chalk up in your mental notes for future reference. However, if you are unhappily married, I have some thoughts to share with you, What If You Are Unhappy with Your Marriage? God bless you all and your marriages!


Week Four Challenge: Set aside time to invest in and enjoy each relationship in your family.

Today’s Challenge: Kiss him like you mean it!


Image from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum

 
Join me tomorrow as I will be sharing ideas for enjoying your children, adult children, children-in-laws, and grandchildren. What a fun day that will be!


Please follow me at PearlsforLiving.net, and add your email to the right so that you will receive regular email updates. You will not want to miss one day of the fun!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter too, for “daily wisdom from the Bible and life experiences to help us all build God-honoring lives, homes, and families.”

And, if you really want to help spread the word and bless your friends, be sure to “Like” and “Share!” 

Thank you and God bless!
Shari Lewis