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Back to Normal?

I’m willing to bet, the topic of conversation in most families and homes right now is, “What is this year going to be like?  What is our new normal?  How will sports, carpool, new schools, transitions, extracurricular’s, etc. change our day to day routine?”  Or maybe for some, it’s “How are we even going to survive this year!?!”

No doubt the start of a new school year brings many different, exciting (and anxiety producing!) opportunities.  So my question to you is –

What will your rhythm/schedule be?

Is it possible to create a rhythm that feels more meaningful than just merely surviving?  If you already feel like you’re giving your all and barely keeping your head above water, I’m hopeful these simple ideas can help you move past survival mode and feel confident in your rhythm for this year.

TELL IT WHERE TO GO

You may have heard the quote that “a budget is telling money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.”  The idea is that money is going to go somewhere and you’ve got to be intentional about telling it where to go.  I think the same is true with our time.  Time is always on the move.  We all feel time starved and we wonder where the time has gone.

My invitation to you, as you start off a new year, is to think through how you can tell time where it will go and how it will be spent.  My friends over at Parent Cue have provided some great resources to help us as parent think through how we can leverage our naturally busy lives, but also find ways to bring meaning into the chaos!  (You can find out more this idea and their app here)

The idea is simple.  Since parents can’t cram anything else into their busy schedules, they help parents use the time they already have.  There are natural times during the daily routine where you, as parents, have opportunity to connect with the heart of your child.  What if we take these times and tell them how they will be used and leverage the natural opportunity they present?

It’s highly likely that if you are a parent of young kids up to middle school, you have these natural parts of your day already in your schedule:

Morning Time
Drive Time
Meal Time
Bed Time

What would it look like for you to start to think about these time as opportunities to connect with the heart of your child?

I imagine those parents with high school students would tell us these times go fast.  That drive time, meal time, and bed time are rhythms that only last so long.  I imagine they would invite us to take advantage of the time while we have it.
(Don’t worry high school parents, Parent Cue has ideas for you as well!)

DON’T LET THEM RIDE THE BUS

Personally, after thinking through this, I realized that I had a great opportunity to spend 15-20 minutes with my child on the way to elementary school each day.  I decided to commit to driving my kids to school (aka not letting them ride the bus everyday, even though they want to!) and using that time intentionally.

Do I plan each morning?  Nope.
Do I know what I’m going to say before I say it?  Sometimes.

I do occasionally make a plan, but more importantly I’ve made the decision to be present and open to connecting with my child.  No phone calls, no worrying about traffic, no radio, sports talk, or podcasts.

The reality is I don’t do much.  My child often recognizes my being present and offers up the topic of conversation that day.  It’s actually fairly easy.    I also believe it’s meaningful.  I recognize that these fleeting moments are building a foundation for a relationship that will hopefully survive adolescence and last into adulthood.  At least that’s the end game!

I know of another middle school family who realized the only chance they had to have a meal together was breakfast, so they carved out some time to eat together in the morning.  It’s a cherished time for them of pep talks for the day, connecting, and being together.

So, as you start this year, what will your rhythm be?  What are some natural times in your day that you can begin to leverage to connect with your child?

I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas!

 

This post may be helpful as you think through this topic – http://www.parentingthoughts.com/2017/03/just-talk-about-it-how-to-have-spiritual-conversations/

See more about the Parent Cue App here:

It’s Good to Be Known

known

“Sometimes you want to go…

where everybody knows your name

and they’re always glad you came.”

We all want to be known.  It’s just wired in us.

When it comes to parenting, how do you get to know your kids?

I’ll never forget the AHA moment where I realized I needed to get to know my kids better.  I have two kids close in age and for weeks they were both a little clingy/needy, they were both melting down way to often, and I was doing my best disciplining and redirecting.  My efforts weren’t working, so I had to try to figure this out.

As I begin to pay attention, I noticed that one was desperately needing attention and the other was needing reassurance.  It’s as if the older one was asking, “Can I please have some attention?” and the younger was needing comfort, in a sense, asking “Am I going to be ok?” but all I was hearing or seeing were behavior problems.  There was a new baby in the house and life was busy, and if I hadn’t slowed down to get to know them, I might have missed this and grown in my frustration.

When it comes to faith, being and feeling known matters.

If you’ve been around middle school kids, this is very evident.  As they enter a room full of other middle school kids, they scan the room – looking – asking – “Where do I belong?  Where am I known?  Where am I safe?”   If they find it, they rush towards it.  If they don’t they are (noticeably) uncomfortable.

It makes sense that before a young person can really start to grappling with big ideas and concepts like faith, identity, meaning, hope…they need the sense of stability being known brings.  If they have the security and confidence of being known, they are much more willing to engage on a deeper level.  I watch a lot of kids spend their time chasing being known and rarely get the opportunity to be comfortable enough to consider issues around faith and life.

Here’s some help.

There’s a great project called, It’s Just a Phase (justaphase.com) and I want to share with you one element of their work in hopes that it will help you know your son or daughter just a little better!

In each phase, there’s a question that is central in a developmental sense.  As my example above indicated, these questions can be hiding under a lot of other behaviors and attitudes.  Once you know the question, you have a better shot of knowing and understanding your child.

In each phase, this is what each child wants to know:

Zero to One:  Am I safe?
One to Two:  Am I able?
Three to Four:  Am I okay?
Kinder to 1st grade:  Do I have your attention?
2nd to 3rd grade:  Do I have what it takes?
4th to 5th grade:  Do I have friends?
6th grade:  Who do I like?
7th and 8th grade:  Who am I?
9th grade:  Where do I belong?
10th grade:  Why should I believe?
11th grade:  How can I matter?
12th grade:  What will I do?

Next week I will share the One word that the project discovered that helps us engage these questions with our kids.  This week, take a moment and see if you can recognize this question in behavior or other areas of life.  Take a moment and answer this question, even if they aren’t verbally asking it, and see if it leads to some results.

How To Debrief Summer Camp – Repost

Who doesn’t love summer camp?!?

Camp was a staple of my summer as a youth and I always looked forward to a spending a week at camp.  It was a place God showed up in significant ways and it always provided growth in my social/physical/spiritual life as a teen. There was one part of summer camp I always dreaded though…

It wasn’t the fear of going alone without a friend…

or being away from home…

or communal bathrooms…

It was the car ride home and the 20 questions I knew my mom was dying to pepper me with.

As soon as we started driving home, they would come flying at me…”How was this?  Who was that?  What was your favorite?  Did you remember this?  What did you learn?  Did I see you talking to that girl?”  I would answer one, maybe two and then shut down.  I didn’t have it in me and I didn’t know what to say in some cases.  It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about camp or share my experiences, I just wasn’t ready yet.

If you read this blog, you know that I love the folks over at Orange (www.orangeparents.org) and they have put together a camp conversation guide that I want to share with you.  It’s broken down into what to say NOW, what to say LATER, and what NOT to say.

What to say NOW:

The truth is your student may not be ready to talk a lot their first day back.  Do you best to keep it simple.  If they offer more and want to share, go for it, but don’t be offended if they don’t.  Ask a question or two and then let them be!

  1. What was one fun thing you did?
  2. What was the best part of your week?
  3. Who is one person you got to know better?

What to say LATER:

They may be more ready to chat after a day or two, but they still may not be able to put their experience into words.  They’re still processing – trying to figure out how to bring what they learned there back to their normal, everyday life.  Specific questions may help get better answers.

  1. What is one thing that surprised you about the week?
  2. What is one thing you learned about God, yourself, or others this week?
  3. Is there anything you decided to do differently because of what you experienced at camp?

What NOT to say:

Camp often feels sacred to a student.  It may be because they felt closer to God or maybe they became closer to friends and felt accepted.  Either way, your student will feel far less likely to talk if they feel you don’t understand or don’t approve.  Do you best to keep your tone positive.   Avoid these phrases:

  1. Did you learn anything this week?
  2. It sounds like all you guys did is goof off.
  3. You’re sure not acting like you learned anything.

Did I dread my mom’s 20 questions?  Yep.  That being said, I’m incredibly thankful she was engaged and willing to enter into my world.  I am thankful she cared enough to ask.  I’m thankful she wasn’t silent about the spiritual life and wanted to encourage my growth and development there.

So, don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be offended if they don’t share much.  They may not be ready yet, but you can always revisit a day or two later or even a few days later.  Hope this helps!

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