The Daily Reminder – Day 5: Kids + Love letters
Have you ever had someone write you a love letter? Or frankly any kind of letter that simply shared how much you mean to them? As I think about my own life – those types of letters have been some of the most impactful things to how I feel about myself.
In the current digital age, we are moving away from hand-written letters, but the act and art of writing a hand-written letter can hold so much meaning that I believe it should be our focus today.
Our task today is to write ONE hand-written “love” letter (or picture if your child can’t read yet) to each of your children. If your children don’t live with you any longer, simply write it today and mail it to them. The only requirement is that it is hand-written. That part matters.
Focus your letter or picture on what you love about your child and your life with them. Focus on their strengths. Focus on your dreams for them. Your prayers for them. Your hopes for them. Write the date on it so they can come back to it years from now and know when it was written.
And rather than just handing it to them, I encourage you to hide it in a place where they will find it. Like a surprise. A double surprise – you wrote them a letter AND they found it hidden somewhere! We all love good surprises like that!
Recap from Day 4 (sorry – this is a long one!)
As I reflect on becoming mindful of allowing my kids more “yes” in their lives, I am struck by a couple of things. First – my kids don’t really ask for outlandish things. They don’t ask to go on a vacation to the beach. They don’t ask to go on a shopping spree in the toy isle. If I summarize what my kids ask for most, it is: 1. Electronics (i.e., more time on a tablet, a certain show on television, a movie, etc.), 2. Food/treats (i.e., “Can I have a piece of candy?”, “Can I have a donut?”, “Can I have more peaches?”), and then 3. Things that they think are cool (and perhaps I don’t think are cool).
With these things in mind, the second thing that struck me was how quickly I tend to say “no” with really not a lot of good reasoning for doing so. For instance, when my 2-year-old asks, “Can I leave my shirt off when we go to bed?” (Because both of his older brothers sleep without a shirt). My initial reaction for a long time was just “no.” And then it turned into, “No, you might be cold.” or some other addition to “no.”
But if I really stop to think about what HE wanted, what was the worst thing that could have happened?? He would have gotten chilled in the middle of the night and learned to pull up his covers?
BUT… what I realized he GAINS when I say “YES” to this simple request, is the joy of connecting more with his brothers, feeling more like them, and not feeling rejected by my “no” again. For the 10th time today. EEK
So as I think about my kids’ typical requests and how to move forward, here’s how I want to think about “yes” and “no” in my house:
1. Electronics – Just about every parent I work with has the battle of electronics. We have a love/hate for them. Nearly every child has a LOVE for all things electronic. Nearly every parent fears they will create an electronic addiction in their child OR has conflicting ideas of how much electronics time is “appropriate” or “allowed” or “okay.” My response is always to have more frequent short-spurts of time on electronics, rather than hours at a time. For instance, at 6:45am, my son asked for electronic time yesterday and I said, “Sure – but only 5 minutes right now and we can play more later.” With a child’s brain development, they tend to get locked-in to electronics. So if you let them get locked in for longer than 30 minutes or so, then it is harder to get them out of it. If you have a kid who has tolerated longer spurts with the electronic without issues, than 60 or 90 minutes at a time could be okay. But if you have troubles with getting them off of the electronic, try reducing the time frame and increasing the frequency of access.
You can also find recommendations and resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics as well. In fact, I would encourage you to read this article and click through some of the resources they have listed. They have a Family Media Plan that I think is a really great option for parents of kids 7+ because it works like a family contract – where everyone has expectations about screen time, screen-free time, etc. When kids feel like parents also have the requirements of limiting screen time, they are more likely to have a better attitude about it!
2. Food/treats – We are all highly motivated by food/treats. In fact, I believe we are a country that is obsessed with food (but that is probably for a different type of blog!). Regardless, typically, our kids receive treats when they are 1. potty training 🙂 and 2. After they eat dinner without complaining. As I think about the “yes, mom” day yesterday, when my kids ask for food (like string cheese or yogurt or granola bars), instead of the immediate “no”, I tried to work within what I thought was appropriate. For instance, “Can I have a granola bar?” – when it was right before lunch time – “Sure, let’s put that on your plate for lunch and I will have lunch ready in 15 minutes.” Instead of… “No. We are eating lunch in 15 minutes.” The point for me is allowing them to have some additional control – particularly when they ask specifically – and letting go of control when things are not really a problem.
3. Things that they think are cool (and perhaps I don’t think are cool) – Our kids are still learning about the world. And their brains sometimes come up with extravagant things to try or do as they are learning about the world. For instance, “Can I eat my cereal with orange juice today, instead of milk?” or “Can I sleep on the floor instead of my bed today?” or “Can I buy this $5 game on my tablet with the money I earned?” Now. How many of those things do YOU think are a good idea? For me, none. 🙂 BUT…for my kids – SUPER cool. And what reason do I really have to say no?? What opportunities to learn about the world are they missing because I am shutting down their ideas?
As I move forward, I hope to continue to be mindful of these things to help my kids learn and feel more empowered and connected to me. I hope you may find the same as well!
photo cred pexels.com (Kaboompics.com)