I am the mother of nine wonderful, busy, learning, and growing children—and I love it! Though every day has difficult moments, and every week has difficult days, I enjoy the constant motion, noise, problem-solving (read: kid’s fighting), and, most of all, those moments of closeness and love that make it all worth every effort. As we get ready for Valentine’s Day, I’ll share three ways our family brings that closeness and love into our home.
Stop, breathe, and be present with your child. If you hold still for a moment, you give your child an opportunity to sit with you and snuggle up with a book or game. I watched my mother-in-law do this consistently with my kids. She simply got comfy on the couch and invited the grandkids to join her. It’s also a great way to create room for sharing. Yesterday one of my children was visibly upset, and I tried to soothe her with a quick hug and told her all would be okay if she just relaxed and calmed down. Well, guess who really needed to relax and calm down? Yes, me, the mom. As soon as I stopped what I was doing, knelt beside my child, and listened and comforted in a very present way, the world was much better, more peaceful. In that calm moment of stillness with just the two of us, love was shared.
Whether working in the garden, going on a hike, or providing service for a neighbor or community, when we get active (often outside), we breathe more deeply, serotonin starts flowing, and we feel the power of group effort. My family volunteers about four times a year at a vineyard that provides raisins for communities and families in need. We get up early on a Saturday, work hard for about four hours, and drive home dusty and tired, but full of love. As we work and serve with a purpose, we feel love both for those we serve and for each other. Some parents marvel that we can get teenagers out of bed on a Saturday morning. I too marvel that they are willing, but I know this is because it is a habit we have formed; it is a tradition in our home. Don’t be mistaken, the kids do complain sometimes; they are tired; they ask if it’s time to go home. But we work together and no one complains at the end of the day. We make memories and grow in our love as we get moving and look outside ourselves.
Learn something new.
When we learn together, we create common ground and common fun! This week my teenage daughter wanted to learn to juggle. We slated juggling for our weekly family night activity. With my husband, Christopher, as our teacher, we tossed one, then two, and then three homemade beanbags. There was plenty of laughter as bags flew all around the living room. And just two days later, we are all up to five or more tosses and catches with three balls! We are encouraging and celebrating one another as we learn together. Learning together lets us laugh and give hugs and smiles as we get a little better. Over the years, among other things, we have learned to cook, play games, hike, climb, read, and make music together. Learning together builds relationships and love in our home.
I hope you can take some time to be still, get active, or learn something new with your family. Notice all of these things are really just part of being present together, and that simple act builds relationships and love.
Michele Lynne Robbins, the Mater Familius and Acquisitions Editor, has been the CEO of the Robbins Roost for twenty-two years, where she has homeschooled each of her nine children. When she is not running her domestic enterprise, she is found developing important book content, creating unique gifts, and enjoying the joys of family life and motherhood. She holds a BA in Special Education from Brigham Young University.