On the quest to protect the light in my heart, (or as I said in a previous post, the Beauty and the Beast rose…) I had to figure out what it was that had the potential to turn the coming year around from being like the past year. A gift in the heart of my oldest’s child was one of the keys to that discovery.
My oldest’s unique ability to see beauty, romance, grace and elegance primed the pump for me being able to identify what it was that I needed. Viewing life through her lenses was like inhaling deeply after an extended period under water. Every time she pointed out a moment of beauty in the sky, or had us all stop to appreciate a gifted dancer, or drew our attention from the grime of our neighborhood to see the color in the flowers, a part of me was restored.
When it came time to think about what it was that I needed to get me through another year of the same circumstances, but with a different result for our family, I quickly thought of the light that she brings to our souls. It was that light, if I could bottle and reproduce it, that I knew would break open the cycle of darkness that swirled around me. It was her ability to focus in on the beauty and romance in a moment that directed me to look at romance to see if it could do the same for my heart.
Once the Year of Romance was decided upon, the next question was: How do you romance your children? I had four kids who were feeling the stress of having gone through the same previous year that I had, but without the benefit of an energized, creative, excited mom to help them. I knew that I needed to spend an equal amount of time romancing their hearts as well.
One of the first steps that I found was heart to heart intimacy. That means really being there with your child. Not with your phone. Not in front of TV. Not talking with others. Don’t be the parent who thinks that they spent time with their child, but who really multi-tasked and got a lot done on a project/work.
Romance your child in the ordinary. Look for the ordinary moments to capture time with your kids. A quick trip to the store. A project that would be much easier to do by yourself, but would facilitate special time with a child.
Create family traditions. Think about how you can make each holiday, each birthday, each annual occasion, a special occasion. Champion celebrating in your household. Create birthday traditions, holiday traditions, seasonal traditions, traditions around shared experiences, TV shows, sporting events, etc.
Instigate activities throughout the month that celebrate family. Make one day a month no-electricity-day, even into the evening. Do activities by candlelight, talking, singing, playing games. Make one evening make-your-own-pizza/taco/fondu night and let the kids go crazy with various toppings. Make one night a month family game night. Experiment with them to make a new kind of cookie each month. Every experience that you are able to create is an opportunity to romance their hearts back to God, and deeper to yours.
Schedule surprise for your kids. One of the first things that I did after deciding on the Year of Romance was to hit my Target dollar section and to hit the after-season sales at our local Hallmark store. I bought as many little gifts and candies as I could afford – not buying junk, but things that I knew would thrill my kids’ hearts. I then began leaving these presents with a handwritten note on their beds at night. My goal was always one child a week, which turned into each child getting one present/note a month. I can’t tell you how many times, after the kids all went to bed, one of them would come running downstairs with a huge smile in their faces to give me a hug and thanks. It meant the world to both me and them.
As I wrap up this series, I am no longer in the Year of Romance. We have moved on to another themed year, based on where I believe our family is presently. However, having written about these things has been really therapeutic, and has reminded me of many of the activities that we did that made our family better. I’m inspired to recommit to both serving and surprising my family. I hope that you are, too! If you get a moment, write to me and tell me what you’ve done to surprise your family, or what traditions you have. I’d love to hear them!