“Isn’t this day supposed to be about ME?” I remember saying those words one frustrated Mother’s Day years ago to a husband who just woke from a nap and kids who were fighting. Sometimes Mother’s Day doesn’t feel like a celebration of mom to MOM. Yes, you could look at it as a holiday created to sell greeting cards. But there’s something about this day that makes you want to feel honored or at the very least, recognized and given a much-needed break.
Maybe you’ve uttered those words to your family in frustration. Or perhaps you relish the fact that on this one day, they are going to knock your socks off with pampering and you are not going to have to think about anything heavy.
And then you see her. The single mom in your church. Huh. Who is making sure she has a great mother’s day? And the guilt starts to whisper that you really should do something but, I mean, really, it’s your ONE day. Squirm.
Clutter Free is about clearing clutter from a lot of areas of your life including your heart and mind. And seeing a mom who needs some help shouldn’t come with a side of guilt. Yes, you still get to enjoy your day. But if you truly want to bless her too, I’ve got two amazingly simple ways:
Remind her kids they need to do something.
Or, simply tell her you see the amazing job she’s doing as a mom on her own.
Told you they were simple.
Remind Her Kids
The first Mother’s Day after my husband died, I expected to wake up to just another day of doing everything for my kids. They were a little older but let’s face it, kids often need to be reminded. So imagine my surprise when my girls, ages 12 and almost-6 surprised me with scrambled eggs, toast, and tea on a pretty platter in bed. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
I didn’t need a huge gift. I couldn’t afford to take the kids out to lunch. But the fact that they remembered me was enough to make my Mother’s Day special.
Maybe her kids just need to be reminded to do something for mom on this day. Or perhaps they need some suggestions. If you have the means, giving them a gift certificate to take the family out for dinner is great too. Or, help the kids buy her flowers or something simple. These material things are super nice however I think most moms want to feel appreciated and remembered on this day more than anything. So do what you can.
Be Her Cheerleader
Maybe you don’t know her kids well enough to be the bossy grown-up who asks what they are planning. If not, simply telling her you see all she does and you think she’s rockin’ it is another great blessing.
Being a single parent is incredibly tough. It takes lots of creativity and energy to be all things that your kids need on top of provider and caretaker of the home. Telling a single mom you think she’s doing an amazing job at it is another way to bless her on this day to celebrate moms. Simple and free, this encouragement might come at a time when she’s had a rough day or just be a delightful surprise.
So when God places that single mom in your path as Mother’s Day approaches, don’t feel guilty that you want to enjoy your holiday. That’s self-care and you, fellow mom, have earned a day, too. Instead, ask God how you can best help this single mom.
Jenn Buell is a writer, speaker, radio DJ and widowed mom of four kids who lives in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. She loves using her superpower of encouragement to cheer on other Christian single moms through her blog and podcast, “Right There With You.” You can connect with Jenn at JennBuell.com.
Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard working of mommyhood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:
When I first became a mom over 20 years ago, I had this perfectly reasonable idea that if I could just follow a certain list of things that “good moms” did then surely I would ensure that my kids would turn out OK. The problem was that the hospital must have forgotten to give me a copy of the list because I left with a tiny baby bundle and no clue what I was doing. As a young mom I quickly fell into the comparison trap. I thought that if I could just copy what other successful families were doing then we’d be fine.
So I started looking around, taking notes on all the things “good parents” did. You know the usual: reading to your baby, getting them into the right pre-school, sports teams and activities, sign up to be class parent for every grade, volunteer with the PTO, and so on. But every year that passed the list seemed to get longer and longer. It was becoming hard to keep up.
One area where there seemed to be a never-ending list of to-dos, for example, was birthday celebrations. We have dear friends and family members who have a gift for hospitality. They love throwing parties for every birthday and holiday. And early on I felt pressure to have big parties too, even though it’s not one of my “gifts”. But after having our 4th child we realized that big birthday parties every year for each child was just not in alignment with our values or our budget.
Our focus shifted from checking boxes and trying to do all of the things to considering what we really wanted our kids to remember about their time at home?
After we gave our family permission to trade-in the to-dos for meaningful traditions, our birthday celebrations became small and simple but meaningful. The birthday person gets to choose the meal and dessert of their choice on their special day and they get to use the red “I am special today” plate. Then we go around the table and take turns sharing what we love about the birthday person.
It’s become a sweet, fun and often funny tradition in our home.
As I started to think more about what memories and experiences we wanted to create together as a family I began to look for ways to make our time together special. Little every-day events have become reasons for celebration.
For example, Friday evenings have turned into “Toto’s Fridays” where we head to our favorite pizza place for dinner, usually after our youngest son’s baseball game, and catch up on the week’s events.
Other ideas for family traditions:
Annual camping trips
Donuts or a special treat on the first day of school
First day of summer scavenger hunt
Family game night Fridays
Ice cream sundae Sundays
There are definitely times when we need to check off to-do lists but when it comes to creating family memories each family is wonderfully different. Let’s choose to celebrate our time together by creating meaningful traditions that are in line with our family’s values rather than consume what others are doing and potentially miss out on some special opportunities.
One small win: We have limited time while our kids are at home, creating family traditions can be a great way of celebrating your family’s uniqueness and create memories together. Consider what special or ordinary events you’d like to find ways to celebrate.
Zohary Ross is a life coach, speaker and author of the Aligned Parenting Workbook. She is passionate about equipping and encouraging women to let go of the never-ending hustle for perfection and live with alignment instead. Connect with her at zoharyross.com
What happens on family night … stays on family night. At least that’s what we said the night I dramatically pantomimed changing my adult daughter’s diaper. It was the final round of Cranium. If my husband guessed correctly, our team would take the win. If not, it was sure to go to the other team.
In the last few seconds, he shouted, “Changing a diaper!”
I raised my hands in victory. “Yes!”
The other team groaned as my husband moved our player piece into the winner zone. My daughter got up off the floor, red-faced and raspy from screeching/laughing.
Now, whenever we decide to play a game on family night, her older siblings (and brother-in-law) always tease her with, “Let’s play Cranium.”
And she always spits back “No!,” much to their delight.
Creating a fun family night
Family night has been a thing in our family since the kids were little. Now that they’re all out on their own, they still love it. So do my husband and I. I credit family night for one of the main reasons we’re a close family.
It hasn’t always been easy. But I’ve learned some things (sometimes the hard way) to make weekly family nights an event they won’t want to miss.
1) Yummy food. If your kids still live at home, this is a night to put something special on the menu. When mine were little, they’d beg for pizza — an obvious way to make the meal fun for them.
There are other nights for “eat your vegetables” and “try it — you’ll like it.” Family nights are a great reason to put out those “Yay! Best mom ever!” foods.
Now that mine are young adults on a meager food budget, anything that isn’t Ramen noodles or Kraft macaroni and cheese puts a smile on their faces. I usually make this my night to put more effort into cooking dinner. It’s also our one dessert night of the week.
Whatever their age, choose a menu (or restaurant) that will be sure to lure them to the table.
2) Fun activity. Don’t let the night end with everyone slipping away after dinner and melding with their devices. Planning an activity keeps the conversation going, often getting into the deeper issues of life. We’re fond of board games, so it doesn’t take much to entice them to play a round or two. Sometimes we’ll hike at a local landmark or head to the nearby city park if the weather’s nice.
Some weeks, like Easter week, we’re simply exhausted. Those are great times to head to the theater or rent a movie to watch at home. This weekend, my heart melted when my youngest curled up next to her dad on the couch like she did as a little girl.
3) Safe conversation. Speaking from some of the most painful parenting lessons I’ve ever learned, I highly recommend saving the difficult conversations for later. Most issues can and should be dealt with individually, but if it’s truly a family matter, we schedule a family meeting.
We work hard at cultivating positive interaction, with more encouragement than correction. For me, the work is especially hard, since I didn’t grow up in a positive environment; too many times I’ve repeated the mistake of being too harsh with my children. Often, it takes intentional work on the parents’ part to create a supportive and affirming family environment.
I’ve watched the work pay off not just on family nights, but throughout the week as well. Recently, one of our adult kids sent us all a group text before a big job interview and instantly got 100% response with many variations of, “You go, girl!”
One Small Win: Whether your kids are just barely old enough to sit at the table, or if they have dining room tables of their own, family nights are a great way to create great memories and foster closeness.
And if you ever find yourself playing Cranium and draw the “pantomime changing a diaper” card?
Do it with gusto.
Your family will be talking (and laughing) about it for months to come.
Lyneta Smith is an inspirational writer and speaker who lives with her husband near Nashville, TN. Some of her favorite things to write in her planner: date nights and family time with her adult children. She’s owned by a frisky Boston terrier and a tortoiseshell cat. Connect with her at www.lynetasmith.com.
5 Ways to Connect Better with Your Kids by Paula Tobey
Have you ever had an encounter with one of your children that left you feeling like the ‘bad guy’? Either there was eye rolling, or stomping and yelling, or even better – a door slammed on your hand (check out my article about that one here http://phemomenallife.com/need-god) and all you could do was pray or kill a kid, lol. Well here are five great tips for you to have a better relationship with your child that will help prevent any of this from ever happening!
Believe it or not, kids need love. They don’t act like they do (and the older they get they may tell you often they don’t) but they do. The ‘kind’ of love is what is in question. Sure as anything, that too changes as kids grow. They want to show love to you. It’s just differently than before. Less kisses and hugs and more ‘trust’ or privileges. Kids need to feel like they have some control, and if that means telling you to stop kissing them at the bus stop, then they will use what works. Just remember, they do love you! Help them feel loved and respected by trying these tips:
Know your kids – Can you tell someone with certainty what your child’s favorite activity is, favorite show or book? Can you list off some of their closest friends? What makes your kid tick? Make sure to listen to your child’s interests and pay attention to what they talk about. Ask questions.
Accept your child where s/he is – The truth is: kids grow up, and they all do it at different times (although research shows it is happening at an earlier age than ever before). We need to be aware that they might just be ready for the next stage, so we should love and respect them where they are.
Encourage good decisions and positive interactions – When your child does something that is nice or helpful, make sure to comment on it. Positive reinforcement goes much further than negative reinforcement. Negate the nagging! If you don’t like to be nagged by your mother or spouse, why do you think nagging your kid will get them to do much of anything? Give choices and ask them questions like “what are you supposed to be doing right now” rather than “do your homework”. Then after they answer, suggest they can do “A” or “B” and be okay with their choice even if it involves consequences.
Share some personal things – Kids do want to hear from you. Share with them some of your struggles. Tell them you had a hard time with X, and you don’t want to see them struggle, and that is why you care so much what happens. If they hear from you and your ‘pain’, they are more willing to be understanding and listen to you.
Be available – When kids get home from school, most of them want to wind down a little bit. Give them some space for a few minutes but then engage with them over a snack or in the car. You never know when they’ve had a really bad day and need to talk. Most kids are just waiting for the chance to feel loved. The more available we are to them, the more likely they are to open up to us when needed.
Do you want more great information to make your family the best it can be? Subscribe to my blog and get weekly posts and encouragement to help you on your parenting journey. http://phemomenallife.com/
Paula Tobey is founder of PheMOMenal Life Ministries a community for women to go get encouraged and equipped to be the best mom’s they can be to their children by living a healthy balanced life and by becoming all that God created them to be.