1. Say it to them. Do you tell your children you love them? Especially your older ones? It can be easy to live under the assumption that they simply know how much they are loved, but often children need the words, the reassurance that yes they are indeed valued and loved. Make it a habit every day to tell them I love you – and keep it going – especially as they get older and are in the teen years.
2. Write them a note. Again, a truly simple way to express love, but take a moment and scrawl some simple things that you love about your child on it. Make it a priority to point out ways that they bless you – maybe it is their smile or the fact that they always make their beds or that they are on time or that you just like being around them. That matters. I mean, think about how much their notes to you matter. (For further evidence – see below – smile.)
3. Make their favorite meal. Sometimes we get into a rut of always serving the same thing or not thinking about what our family loves the most. Make one night a week the night that you serve something that they want to eat and not you. A simple gesture, but it makes a huge difference. If you have a large family like I do this is also a very simple way to devote attention to each person. Another fun thing to do – especially if you have younger ones – is t omake fun place cards or menus for each meal. And for the olders? Simply involve them in the meal prep and planning.
4. Schedule one on one time. I have had to be ultra intentional with my one on one times with my children. A very simple thing that they love to do is to go with me on my weekly grocery run (Which is a combo of Costco – where they love the samples, Trader Joe’s, and Super Target). Often I’ll take them to get a cup of coffee or a treat at Starbucks and I’ll let them linger in the stores and look around. I have grown to truly love those moments spent together in the store – very sweet memories. My Elijah is especially fun to take to Costco as he gets overwhelmed and excited each time by just the shear size of the place. When you have that time you’ll get a glimpse into their world and their hearts.
5. Give them your time. In little ways. When they talk to you look at them in their eyes and really listen. I know you have a ton on your plate and maybe don’t have time for that drawing or to hear about the animals in the jungle book or all of that – but here’s the deal – make time. Become interested in what they have to say and what they have to do. Those things matter to them – they want you to be excited about what they are learning and if you are always to busy they will learn to not come to talk with you. Listen. And give time.
6. Turn off the media. I read a statistic that he had read regarding people and their smart phones – that most people are never more than three feet from their phones most of the time. Imagine that – three feet. I know how distracting it can be. You hear the ding of an alert and you just want to check the one thing and then it becomes that you have to send an email back and then more and more. Turn off your media for a bit. And set media parameters. Our family loves media, but I know that we need boundaries. Every once in a while have a media free night – play games, talk, sit in the living room and just be together. It’s balance – and they just want your attention – bless them with it. Undivided.
7. Don’t complain about the extra work. I know laundry is work. Trust me, I know – doing laundry for nine is a rather daunting task. But, I’ve also learned to not complain about the laundry to my children. I am blessed to have a family to do laundry for – and you are blessed with the same. I know it’s work, but if that work was suddenly gone you would miss folding those shirts, shorts, and mismatched socks. Don’t complain. Remember my words about why vacuuming should always be beautiful.
8. Be grateful. Develop a posture, an attitude, in your home that is simply grateful that you are a family. If your home has an atmosphere of discontent, grumbling, and unhappiness then that is what will constantly be perceived and felt. Be absolutely grateful. Does that mean you have a facade of happiness on? Absolutely not. What it means is that even when things aren’t perfect that you are still allowing yourself the ability to see the good things in the midst.
Eight very simple ways that can bless your children and to let them know how much they are valued and loved.
Make sure to step back in the middle of your busy and appreciate them.
And if nothing else, make sure to always always always do point number one.