Aren’t those days wonderful when you’ve gotten a good night’s sleep, you wake up and are full of energy, the children get ready without any prompting, they are cooperative and kind to each other, and by the end of the day you have been able to accomplish everything on your to-do list? I’m guessing you enjoy days that come even close to being like that. But what about those days when you are tired, the children are fighting with each other, there is whining, complaining, and then one of them gives you a major attitude and won’t cooperate while another one is crying, someone gets put in a time-out and the cycle continues throughout the day. Do you enjoy those kind of days? Probably not so much. I know I don’t.
We’ve had some difficult days in the past two weeks with tantrums, whining, complaining and misbehavior and honestly I’ve been worn out by it. I’ve gotten through those days by the skin of my teeth and I don’t even think about enjoying the day, but rather, I’m just focused on surviving until everyone is in bed. Those are the days when I consider moving to a tropical island all by myself!
I realize that my outlook, attitude and the way I handle these situations will set the tone in our house so I’ve had to reconsider how I think about and approach the days when difficulties arise. If I have a bad attitude, lash out in anger, start crying (yes, this has happened!) or some other poor response, everyone else in our house will probably react that way too.
By the grace of God things have begun to turn around as we have worked through these situations but it hasn’t been easy or fun. I won’t get into any specifics because really it’s all a work in progress and we are still figuring things out (in other words, I have no idea what I’m doing half the time and I’m flying by the seat of my pants!). But I want to tell you about one of the things I did this week that I found helpful for my own outlook.
With Thanksgiving approaching I had wanted to write a list of things I’m thankful for and with the recent challenges I felt it was even more important to do that. It can be far too easy to focus on the things that are wrong and while those things need to be considered and dealt with, I don’t want to ponder on those things for longer than necessary. I want to enjoy this precious time with our children because it goes by so very fast.
I put together my list of “Things I’m Thankful For” and when I looked at it I felt that it was fairly general and broad, so I decided to take this process one step further by also considering the things in life that I am actually enjoying right now. In an effort to concentrate more on appreciating and enjoying each and every day as much as possible, I have put together a list of 10 blessings in my life that I am currently enjoying.
I found this extra step very helpful in order to focus on the here and now. These are the 10 things that I am most enjoying right now:
- Snuggling on the couch with our children and reading Christmas books with them. I took some of our Christmas books out of storage this week and was especially excited to read Song of the Starswith the children. It’s a beautiful book that captures the anticipation, celebration and awe of all of creation as the Savior of the world is born.
- Seeing the children all wrapped up in their winter gear.
- Drinking a hot cup of coffee to warm me up (and wake me up) on these cold winter-like mornings. If you can even believe it, I became a coffee drinker for the first time just a few months ago!
- Feeling the excitement as the children anticipate Christmas.
- Shopping for needed and fun items to fill up our Operation Christmas Child boxes. This upcoming week is collection week!
- Curling up in a chair by myself and reading a book of my choice.
- Wearing nice comfy, cozy sweaters.
- Hearing sweet voices, laughs and giggles come out of the children’s rooms as they play nicely together.
- Watching the children learn something new every single day.
- Making a plan to watch my absolute favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I love it!!
This week I was once again reminded of how quickly our children grow when someone shared a time lapse video on Facebook of a girl from birth to 14 years. Her dad took video footage of her each week since birth, spliced it together, put music to it and the result is this amazing video. I love the fact that there are parts where she looks sad, because that is part of a child’s journey. Those memories of our children may not be our happiest but they are important and they are part of our experience together as a family.
With Snootz’s 7th birthday coming up next month I can say that time goes by faster than I ever imagined. The days can be long but the years go by quickly. I don’t want to miss a thing. Even those difficult days with our children, because really those are just opportunities for us to teach them and help them grow.
Maybe sitting down and thinking about the things you are thankful for is something you’d find helpful too. You can make it even more relevant and meaningful by also making a list of 10 blessings in your life that you are enjoying right now. Go ahead and give it a try and feel free to share your list (or a partial list) in the comments!