Intentional Parenting

I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions, but I do try to always have something I’m working on.  Right now it has to do with my parenting.  I’m trying to be more intentional.  About a year ago, I felt like a parenting fog had lifted.  I remember thinking on Emma’s 7th birthday that I was finally at a parenting stage that I was enjoying.  I’m not a baby and toddler person.  I liked my own ok, but I’m not big on that stage in general:)  So with my youngest turning 7 I was firmly out of that stage and on to parenting older children.  I basically took a year to coast:)  When the kids are little, I feel like everything that you have to teach them mostly just happens - just the process of keeping them safe and fed and sleeping teaches them about life.  But now I have friends and crushes and social media talks and decisions about high school courses coming up. I like numbers and so I started thinking about numbers to do with my kids.  I only have 4.5 years left to teach Jonathan everything he needs to know before moving out for college.  If he has children at the same age as I did, I will be a grandma in 9 years.  I recently got a 10 year passport in the mail and when it expires, Emma will be 18 and we will be done raising children.  I have one more passport to teach them all everything.  Although, I’m pretty sure that although raising ends at 18, parenting never does.  But with all those numbers going through my head lately, I decided it was time for more intentional parenting.  Here are some things I’ve been working on.

More one-on-one time

Because Emma was such a terror as a toddler, we developed a nighttime routine with her that included a snuggle time.  Lately Arianna has asked me to come snuggle with her once in a while.  I have a hard time with this, because we’ve always run our house with me checking out of parenting by 7 and Michael taking care of bedtime.  Being an introvert/homeschooling-stay-at-home-mom is rough on me and by 7 I need some alone time.  But I’ve noticed a trend.  At first when I would say yes, Arianna didn’t want to talk, just snuggle.  But after a few months, she started talking.  Just this week, she broke down crying about something that had been bothering her within five minutes of me coming in.  She needed time alone for a while before she would open up, but now that she has, I’m learning things about her that I didn’t know before.  That night I was really glad that I had put off my alone time for another 15 minutes.

Curating my Instagram

This may sound weird at first!  But my kids love to look through my Instagram.  Every few days they make sure they get caught up on what’s going on.  So I decided to use it as a tool for them.  I started following some bloggers that have great things to say about the Christian life, parenting, teens, and beauty.  I followed a girl that moved to China to work in an orphanage.  I followed a photographer that travels around doing work for different charities and telling the stories of people around the world.  Also, I have some really great every day Christian friends who are good influences.  If they’re going to spend time looking at my Instagram, why not let it inspire them to do great things and teach them that great things are done in many different ways.

Make them do hard things

If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen a picture of Emma slumped over the piano bench despairing over having to practice yet again.  It was hilarious but the day before we had a serious discussion over why we have to practice for so long and why I make them do exams and why I make them do hard things.  Emma is incredibly smart and talented and is still young enough that not that many hard things have come into her life.  But right now at 8 years old she is practicing music at least an hour a day between piano and voice.  And because she’s so talented, her teacher is asking her to do some hard things lately.  I pointed out that a pattern is emerging.  Lessons on Wednesday, crying on Thursday (“I’ll never get this!”), Triumph on Tuesday, a “Great job!” on Wednesday, repeat.  I told her that this is basically life from now on!  If she could just stop crying, she’d have life down pat:)  Life is a cycle of learning to do hard things and intentionally making them do hard things and expecting a lot from them will (hopefully) prepare them well for life in the future.

Ask for help

We recently had something come up with our girls that I had no idea what to do with.  We thought, prayed, talked, talked, and talked some more.  Not only did we not know what to do, we felt like the girls weren’t listening to us and were seeing us as the bad guys.  I decided I needed help and the Lord brought someone to mind right away.  These wonderful, loving people were able to get through to my girls when we couldn’t.  I had heard this couple once say the phrase, speak truth into their lives, and that’s exactly what they did.  And my girls responded to that in a way that they were not able to do with us.  We had said all the same things to them over several weeks, but they walked away from that meeting saying it was so helpful and they felt so much better.  Now, I could choose to feel upset that I needed someone else to tell my children something, but I’m not.  I’m incredibly grateful that God has placed people like that in our lives.  When Jonathan became a teenager, we gave him a list of people that he could go to anytime to get great advice when he felt that he couldn’t talk to us.  And I hope that if he needs to, that he will take advantage of that list.  What a blessing to have our children surrounded by godly people who help us in the raising of them.

These are some of my goals for the coming months.  Any other tips out there?  This parenting thing is hard, but I’m loving it more and more as they get older!