NO PHONE ZONE
In February I followed the rules I had written and studied in January. I made school time, meal time and bedtime a "no phone zone". At times it was challenging, and I had to remind myself that setting my phone down made my life a lot easier. The boys have better focus at school, better manners at meals and more sweet snuggles at bedtime if they have my full attention.
One piece of advice has helped me with putting my phone down during meal time. It suggested two fun conversation starters that the boys really enjoy. One was to tell them stories of my childhood, and another was to ask hypothetical questions. (Like, "If you were a grown up, what would you cook for dinner?" or "If you had $100, what would you buy?") This makes for fun banter at the table and less sibling squabbles.
MY OWN CHILDHOOD
"The truth hurts, but the truth heals- and brings me closer to the person I aspire to be."
A large part of the Hands Free journey includes examining your own childhood-- remembering how you felt and using that to clue into how your children are feeling. It is challenging as it requires reliving some of the harder memories, but it's totally effective. When I remember how I felt when I made mistakes as a child, it makes it easier to forgive my boys when they make mistakes.
Mistakes, however, are not the focus of this book. There is no room for beating yourself up. Mistakes are in the past. The focus is today. What can you do today to connect more with your kids? What changes can you make to your life today to slow down and plug in with your family? Keeping the focus on the present helps me stay positive and moving forward instead of feeling guilty and staying stagnant.
One thing I'm doing to connect more is to "linger"-- at bedtime, at the table, in the playroom. Whatever we're doing, I am trying not to rush into the next thing on my agenda.
IN THE PRESENT
I have found that Instagram has been my friend in terms of seeing the little bits of magic that are my daily life with three little boys. I really pay attention to their adorableness, and am often able to capture it to share with my loved ones. I love that because I know one day I will miss the little Legos underfoot & Lucky Charms at the kitchen table.
For March we did chores together, making anything we did (making dinner or folding laundry) time for us to bond. I said "Yes!" to them doing the dishes, sweeping, and cleaning the shower. Even though it made more work for me, I let them give it a try.
I also said yes to laying with them, snuggling them, and reading to them whenever they asked. This was also hard. To drop whatever I was doing wasn't easy and I had to constantly remind myself that they are the priority, but I did it.
One thing that helped me drop my own to do list items was a comment I read on a blog about parenting: "Being responsible for someone's childhood is a big deal. We not only create our own memories, but we create our child's memories." She's right. It's a HUGE responsibility and one I don't take lightly.
So last month I put an emphasis on happy memories-- playing games, homeschooling, family movie night, soothing bedtime routines, and getting outside. The funny thing is, it made us all happier... not just the boys.
She reminded me that there will come a day when they won't come in my room at night for me to tuck them back in, rub their backs or snuggle them in bed. There will come a day when they won't want me to play little Legos with them. There will come a day when they won't wrap their arms around me and want to stay a while.
So I will kindly follow them to their bedroom through the dark hallway, I will tuck them in snug & safe, and I will say yes to Lego battles. I will hug them, long & hard, until they let go.
I am so thankful for my Hands Free journey and the moments it has allowed me to cherish with my children.