How to Love Your Kids More Intentionally...
Each month of 2019, we are praying one thing over our kids and/or grandkids and learning a Bible verse to go along with it. If you haven't already joined us, you can click here to download our FREE 12 month guide to praying for your kids.
In February, we are praying for LOVE.
We are praying that our kids would love God and love others.
As I (Sarah) prayed and thought about love this morning, I felt like the Lord was reminding me what an honor and responsibility it is to love them. I was reminded that rather than just praying for them to love God and love others, I need to MODEL that for them. They are looking to me to learn how to love.
I adore my kids and I know you do too. From the moment I held my son in my arms, it was like God injected me with more love than I could describe. I suddenly cried out, "I love him" as if I were surprised to feel that way. When he was in my womb, I thought of him kind of like an unknown creature, but as soon as I saw his face I knew I would spend my life loving him fiercely.
Like many other mothers, I was nervous I wouldn't feel that same way when I met my next child. But as you can guess, when I first saw her face, it happened again! It felt like my heart doubled in size and I loved her just as much.
That love was an instantaneous feeling and that love was easy for me, but sometimes love is hard. If I'm being really honest, there are overwhelming and LOUD moments where I feel like I don't even like my kids.
Sometimes I need to stop and ask the Lord to fill me with more love for them. I am humbled as I remember the way He loves and serves me when I don't deserve it. Sometimes I need to toss aside my to-do list and stop and look into little tear-filled eyes and kiss boo boos and scoop someone up into my arms and have a tickle wrestling match or a mini marshmallow war.
After my kids are all grown up, I don't care if they say, "Our mom kept a really clean house." Or, "our mom was always dressed nice." Or, "mom was the best cook." What I pray and dream and hope they say is something more like this, "Our mom really loved Jesus and our mom really loved us." I want them to feel my love. I want to light up when they come into a room like my mom always did for me. I want them to never ever question my care and concern and deep love for them.
"Love is something like the clouds that were in the sky before the sun came out. You cannot touch the clouds, you know; but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either; but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything." -Annie Sullivan
To be a caring and loving parent is a BIG job. This job is so big that God picked you to do it for your kids!
Of course, we all fall short. We all have days where love is harder and we feel like we can't parent for another minute. In fact, just this week I hid in the bathroom and fantasized about going to a tropical island--ALONE.
Here are 5 quick and simple things I do on those hard days along with some tips and tricks I've learned from other wise and loving mamas:
LOVE MORE: CONNECTING ACTIVITIES
1. 10 Minutes With Mommy. Heather MacFadyen, the host of my favorite podcast, always talks about how she did "10 minutes with Mommy" when her kids were young and at home. Now that I have four kids, I am often feeling like I don't get to connect with all of them. This activity really helps and it's something we now try to do almost daily. I set the timer for 10 minutes and start with one child. We play whatever he/she wants to during that time. It could be reading books, making a craft, wrestling, playing a card game, playing monster trucks, whatever! I try really hard to put aside my own agenda and just laugh and play. When the timer goes off, I switch to the next kid. They know they can't interrupt each other's times or else they get a minute deducted from their time.
This works with much older kids as well. Ditch the timer and just make it a goal to connect with each child individually for a certain amount of time each day. Even just a minute or two of real connection is better than a busy half-alive day full of doing things for them instead of with them.
2. Pillow Journals. When my oldest was just a baby, a Pastor and dear friend at my church told me a special tradition she does with her daughter. I couldn't wait for my kids to be old enough to read and write so I could start it! She bought a journal for her oldest daughter and they write notes back in forth and place it on each other's pillows. She said this journal has become a space where her daughter feels comfortable communicating things with her that she might not share in person. I have been doing this for awhile with my oldest two and it has already been so special. They get so excited to find it on their pillow and so do I!
3. Lunch Box Notes. It takes 2 seconds to write "I love you" on a napkin and it is a little reminder of how much you care when they are away from you. You can download our PRINTABLE POCKET PRAYERS here and jot down a little note on the back. That way they are getting a verse, prayer, and a note!
4. Really Listen. I learned this one from my incredibly loving mom-in-law. She says that when her kids were growing up if they started to tell her something, she would stop everything and listen. She put down the laundry or the bills or whatever she was doing when they had something they wanted to talk to her about. She said often times these were the moments she would learn what was really going on with her kids and these were the moments that built up to help her earn their trust. They knew and still know how deeply she cares about all that is on their hearts--the big things and the little things. Of course, we cannot always be 100% present to every need of every child. Practice doing this several times a day and it will become a habit. This habit creates those moments with your child that will make your heart burst!
5. Physical Touch. No matter how many kids you have or how busy your day is, make time to cuddle, wrestle, tickle, place a hand on their shoulder, and/or hug relentlessly. I try to make sure to place my hands on their face or head when I say a BLESSING over them at nighttime.
LOVE MORE: PRAYER
And most importantly, PRAY! Ask God to help you love your kids more.
Here's a sample prayer:
Thank you for the way you love me. Thank you that love comes from you!
Forgive me for the ways I've already been unloving today.
Help me to be guided by your Spirit as I love. Would you increase my love for these kids you have entrusted me with? Would you help me see them the way you do and love them the way you do? Show me the ways that I can best show love to them today.
What are some things you do for you kids to show them how much you love them?