The Little Things

dad with kids on beachEvery once in a while, I read something about connecting with our kids that stops me in my tracks.

I’m reprinting an article today that did just that. It reminds me how important the little (and the not-so-little) things are to our kids – and to life. Rachel Martin of findingjoy.net wrote this piece. It appeared in the Huffington Post last week. Thank you, Rachel, for this reminder:

20 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids

1. Tucking them into bed at night. Someday, they’ll be too big and I won’t get that moment back. Saying goodnight, pulling up the covers and kissing their heads is a gift.

2. Telling them I love them. Start this when they’re young. “I love you” is a powerful three-word phrase that matters.

3. Listening to their stories. Their stories teach me about them and their hearts and what they love. I think of their stories as a way to learn more about them. And this is the real listening, not the distracted mom who wants to move onto the next thing on her never-ending to-do list.

4. Looking them in their eyes. Nothing tells another person you matter more than looking at them in the eyes while they talk. It shows that what they are saying truly is important to you. I want my kids to remember that there were times when their mother looked them in the eye and smiled. And for me, this often means shutting my laptop, putting down my phone, taking a break from my my to-do list and just giving them time.

5. Saying “yes” when it’s easier to say “no.” Like those times when I just want to keep to my agenda and they want to join in. Or for those late-night sleepovers. Or those times when I am simply tired and don’t want to walk up the stairs to say goodnight. Or for the extra story. Or to play a game. “Yes” simply matters.

6. Showing them new things. I can read to my kids about history or I can start to show them history. In August, when Grace, my 12-year-old, and I were in Mexico, it was such a cool experience to show Grace the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Now, I’m not saying go to Mexico, but there are things we can show them. Do science. Look at the stars. Go to the museum. Let them learn and see the world.

7. Teaching them to say “please” and “thank you.” No explanation needed. Politeness matters.

8. Letting them help even if it means it takes longer for me. Does it take longer to wash the windows if I’m teaching my children how to wash the windows? Yes. Same with laundry, cooking, cleaning, folding and more. But they need to learn — these are life skills. I would be doing them a disservice by NOT teaching them and letting them help.

9. Saying “no” to things even when it would be easier to say “yes.” There are movies and television shows that I don’t let my kids watch. Books that I want them to wait to read. iPods and computers that are only allowed on the main level. Sometimes, the answer needs to be “no” — even if everyone else’s answer seems to be yes.

10. Laughing with them. Or smiling with them. Or having fun with them. I simply want them to know I love being around them. This is the aspect of liking my kids, not just loving them. I want them to know both.

11. Making them learn the value of work. I want my kids to know that work matters and that a good work ethic — where you go above and beyond and don’t complain — is an excellent skill. My kids know how to do laundry, to sweep the floor, to bring their dishes over, to clean their rooms, to make their beds and so on. I will never regret teaching them the value of work.

12. Rocking them to sleep. Holding their hand. Giving them a kiss. I love them. Even after those days where they drive me a bit crazy and I wonder what in the world I’m doing. Those little acts of love are important life acts of love.

13. Saying I’m sorry. Because let’s face it — I’m not perfect. I mess up. I make mistakes. So, they need to hear me say I’m sorry and that I love them and that they’re important to me. So, that means sometimes I will say “I’m sorry.”

14. Teaching them to be respectful of others. This. And this again. And this. I want my kids to respect others. To listen to them, to learn and to not judge. This starts with me teaching them this skill and me being respectful of them. Often, it is looking for the good first and giving grace.

15. Encouraging them to take risks. Sometimes, the fear is the biggest obstacle. Kids need to learn to look at the fear and to push through the fear.

16. Not holding onto a record of wrongs. Each day is a new day. Learn from the past, but don’t hold onto the past. I want to see the good first and not all the negative — so often, that means letting go of the record of wrongs.

17. Letting them see me thrive. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking I was a good mom, but a not-too-happy and joyful mom. They need to see me thrive and be interested in things and expand my creativity as well.

18. Teaching them compassion. I want them to see the world beyond me and ourselves. I want them to give back, to care about others and to be a person of change.

19. Showing them that the stuff doesn’t matter. Nothing in Target really matters. Nor the stuff on the shelves. Or the clothes one wears. Or the fancy birthday parties. If the stuff clouds the vision then the relationships are lost. Relationships first. Stuff after that.

20. Letting them grow up. Sigh. This. It has to be done. So, I look back with nostalgia, embrace today and look forward to tomorrow. They’ll grow. And I’ll savor the moments that we’re blessed to share.

Those are just 20 things I won’t regret doing with my kids. Simple things, really. They’re the living intentional type things that sometimes just need to be written down.

This post originally appeared on Finding Joy.

From Blog to Book

It’s been a while.

And although I haven’t been blogging these past few months, I have been busy writing every day. Writing my book – The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5.  It’s the book I couldn’t find when my oldest started kindergarten 11 years ago.

The Parent Back Pack - by ML NicholsI’m excited to announce that [Read more...]