"Mama, can you hand me my water please!"
My oldest was buried in blankets and his water cup was close to the couch, but far enough away that it required a de-blanketing.
I was super comfy and cozy, all snuggled in a blanket across the room from him. I looked over at my husband, and he was just as cozy in the recliner. Yet, he stood up and handed the cup to my oldest. As my husband walked back to his spot on the recliner, he asked "How much is too much?" I knew what he meant. How much do you attend to your kids before you are "spoiling" them?
Sure, we could have handled that simple request in a myriad of different ways.
Disclaimer: I hate the word "spoiled." Kids can't be spoiled. They can, however, be lacking in manners due to missed teaching opportunities. Kids don't automatically know not to take things for granted. Kids must be taught to say the words THANK YOU so we must also teach them to have an appreciate, generous heart.
Back to the story, the more I pondered on my husband's question, I realized that this is where I differ with mainstream society. Much of society forces the idea of a totally independent child. But here's the thing: we are not meant to be completely independent of another human. We are social beings who rely on each other. Even now in my adulthood, I rely on my husband for so much - and vice verse.
I do not want my children to become aloof adults incapable of doing anything for themselves. No. However, I do want them to know how to LOVE others by SERVING them.
In the 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman reveals that one love language is indeed acts of service. You show love by serving others. Think about it. Just this weekend my husband showed his love by finishing a time-consuming project on his honey-do list.
Serving children teaches them how to serve others. Serving others leads to loving others. Loving others leads to a more fulfilled life. More fulfilled lives leads to happiness. Service leads to happiness.
As my husband and I chatted about how serving is in fact a teaching tool, we decided to make some tea. If I hadn't already been convinced about my dedication to serving my children, my tea bag made the point for me.
How do you teach your children to serve others? How do you serve your children? Comment below!
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If you’re having a hard day, give yourself permission to relax!
Guest post by Samantha McDonald
Samantha is a Life and Family Coach who mentors women through life-struggles such as depression and anxiety, helping them thrive so they can experience overwhelming peace and real joy. She is also happily married to her husband of almost 20 years. Together they have 3 children - 2 daughters and 1 son. Her two youngest have ADHD and anxiety, and her son is also on the Autism Spectrum. She loves all things Pinterest, having date nights with her husband, and family movie nights with the whole family. Life would not be complete without her furry children - 2 cats, Daisy and Oreo, and 1 crazy black lab, Ruger.
It was 2:00 am. I had just nursed my daughter for what seemed like the 10th time that night, and she would not go back to sleep. So naturally, I reacted with anger. I left her in the bedroom with my husband while I went downstairs to have a temper tantrum. Slamming cupboard doors, yanking dishes out of the sink, and throwing pillows across the living room.
This was my life for the first 8 months of my newborn daughter’s first year. I had waited 5 years to have my first child. We were ready and we were both excited. So when we brought her home I was expecting sweet baby cuddles, joy-filled moments, and a heart that was overwhelmed with love for my child.
Needless to say that did not happen.
The first year of her life was a cycle of anger, guilt, and self-condemnation. This continued for days, weeks and then months, until my husband finally suggested I go see the doctor. Once I did, changed everything. She totally understood what I was going through and placed me on a plan towards healing.
During this time, I realized I had been experiencing depression all my life. It was especially difficult after the birth of my first and third child. Through medication, counseling, and help from my family, I’ve been able to win the daily battle with depression and anxiety.
Now that others know more about our story, my husband and I have been asked often, “How do you support someone who is going through this life experience?”
My family has had A LOT of experience helping me through these times. There are many ways my family and friends have helped me, but there are 3 key strategies that my family has implemented that help me every single day.
When someone is experiencing depression and anxiety, it can be very difficult for them to explain how they’re feeling. As a friend or family member who has no idea what this feels like, you may find yourself believing they’re simply not trying hard enough or tell them they need to “get over it”. Saying things like this does not help them. They need to feel free to express their feelings and be completely honest with you.
This exercise is not for the faint of heart. It is a process you will need to practice every day. As my husband as told others, “I had to learn to listen with my ears open rather than my mouth."
Know Your Enemy
It may appear at times that your loved one is the enemy, especially if he or she is having a very difficult time controlling their emotions. As someone with a depression diagnosis myself, I was often very angry, feeling like I was constantly yelling at my family. During these times, my family had to remind themselves that I was not the enemy. I was being hijacked by an ugly, controlling disease that would not let go easily.
As you are helping your loved one, keeping this perspective in mind helps you not take his or her words or actions personally. Remember, they often don’t realize what they are doing, until the damage is already done.
Create a Strategy
Our family had to come up with a plan for when I had a depressive episode. This strategy reflected our unique family make-up so it may look different for everyone. There are 3 ways I helped my family understand how I was feeling and how they could help me through it.
These are just a few of the strategies we’ve implemented in our own family. There may be many more that work for you and your household. If you’re looking for other strategies to help you and your family, I created a free guide, “How to Talk to Each Other About Depression”.
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It was nearly 70 degrees today, and if you live in the Midwest, 70 degrees in February is just as strange as hearing about snow in Florida in June. Yet, the weather didn't care that it was acting against expectation. It did what it wanted, and so we basked in the uncharacteristically warm WINTER weather.
I let the boys nap in our new hammock while I read. With their little arms around me, I soaked up their cuddles. As I listened to the birds chirp, I thought about how many naps in the history of naps have been taken outside, how much more peaceful it is, and how much longer the boys slept. What was it about nature that made it so peaceful? Obviously, other people agree because a lot of "spa" music is really just nature sounds; even sound machines have brook or wind settings.
Nature makes you happy
What is it about the outside that makes you happy? The answer is in the history books. Or, Aristotle's book to be precise. Aristotle said:
“The happy life is thought to be virtuous; a virtuous life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement.”
What does that have to with being outside? Many people fall into the trap of looking for happiness in pleasure (amusement). When we are amused or pleased, it is a passive action. Something is pleasing to us. We don't do the pleasing or amusing; we are merely recipients of the pleasure. That's not to say that life isn't made sweeter by such pleasures but a cupcake isn't going to give you lasting joy.
Yet, when we do (rather than being a passive recipient) we have the opportunity to find happiness. We do by serving others, consciously practicing gratefulness, showing kindness to others. If Aristotle was right, then being outdoors and walking/hiking/swimming/kayaking is an exertion too. It is something we must do; it cannot be done to us. Nature helps us find joy because it forces to do. To live. To be present and active in our own life.
Of course, there are many other benefits to being outside.
What do you like to do outside? How do you feel after a long day spent in nature?
"The only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly."
You Are Enough
Guest post by Melissa Robbins // My name is Melissa. I'm a human, wife, mother, personal trainer and life coach. I'm just trying to make the world a little better, happier and healthier.
I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but tomorrow I'll be better.
It was a "shot day" for my 15 month old son, so off to the doctor we went. Afterwards we dropped him off at his grandparents like we do every Tuesday. When I picked him up that afternoon I was thinking that I really needed to give him some one-on-one attention ... then I got an email for a last minute webinar so I watched it while he played. I put him in his high chair, fed him dinner and took a call from a friend I wanted to catch up with. Before I knew it he was having to visibly show me it was time for him to go to bed. Most days I'm patient and attentive but on this day I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but I'd be better tomorrow. And you know what, I'm still a great mom. I'm still enough.
I don't doubt myself. Do I think I do everything perfectly? No, not even close. But that's not what I think makes a great mom, or a great anything for that matter.
I don't know the true definition of perfection but I do know what it is not. Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as striving to do your best and it is NOT self-improvement. Perfectionism is really just the quickest path to anxiety, depression and life paralysis. I struggle a bit (or a lot) with bouts of depression in the winter. And typically by February I'm really having to work hard to keep myself peaceful and healthy, so this winter I've found my cure... I'm still running and walking outside even though I don't like the cold. And here is the best part, it was doctor prescribed!
To equip the stroller for these winter excursions I've got all the goods: a wool seat cover to keep him nice and toasty, all the winter clothing he can fit, and even a weather shield to encompass the entire stroller. Someone actually scolded me for taking my child out in the cold for my own selfish reasons. For the record, not one part of his body was bothered by the cold. In fact, when I took him out of the stroller his back was sweaty. This exchange did not for one second make me question my parenting. It did, however, make me question our society.
We live in a society that has a really, really long list of unwritten rules. Bylaws that we live by because we are "supposed" to. The way you are supposed to live, work, look, be and the things you are supposed to have. What are the consequences of breaking those rules... nothing.
We are paralyzed by the fear that everyone else may not approve. We're missing the mark. In my opinion (and I think it's a good one) the only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly. In the spirit of this holiday season I urge you to take a vow with me. Vow to give up the ever illusive perfect life and start living wholeheartedly. I promise you that I will always support you in that. There will be days that you did it all really, really well and then there will be days that you put your crying, overtired baby to bed and tell him you weren't a great parent today but tomorrow you'll do better. And you'll still be great.
You'll still be enough.
Sweat & Smiles,
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Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.