Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Serenity - Chapter 5

If you are just stopping in for the first time you can catch up by reading my previous posts via these links:
Chapter 1 - Awareness
Chapter 2 - Connectedness
Chapter 3 - Deliberateness
Chapter 4 - Presentness

Today I'm sharing from Chapter 5 entitled, “Taking Pause - Serenity”.  

Feel free to read below or watch the video where I read it to you in under 3 minutes:

As tempted as I am to rewrite the whole chapter, because there is SO MUCH awesome information here, I will refrain and summarize my take away points!  But man oh man do I urge parents to read this book!  Rachel May Stafford shares great stories and has given me so much to think about!!! She gives simple ideas on how to be more involved.  We need to spend time with our family because we never know what tomorrow will bring. 

Our children LOVE being with us.  She told a story about working at a daycare and watching baby faces light up when they first saw their moms at pick up time.  It’s true!  My kids and I have all had that surge of happy when we see each other after some time apart.  It’s a feeling like no other and as my kids have gotten older, I have to confess that I haven't been as attentive as I once was.
“Oh, dear God, I didn’t know anyone could be this happy to see me – because I hadn’t stopped long enough to notice.” P.87
I want to see that again so I will be off the phone when my kids get home from school.  Somewhere along the way we stopped hugging as much.  I want to be more intentional with that too.

Rachel writes in the book that there are three times that our attention is most desired by our children:
  1. When we reconnect after a separation
  2. When our children are performing or exerting themselves (like on the soccer field)
  3. During meals
Connecting in those moments takes EFFORT and requires us to be "hands free" and off our phones!  So that means more eye contact, hellos and hugs when we reconnect.  I will watch my child play soccer and find a break for myself another time.  I will try to cook more meals and sit around the dinner table so we can reconnect TOGETHER as a family.  My kids are growing and have their own rooms, no longer all play together and have different hobbies, so meal time is the only time we are together in the same room! 

Man this is good stuff!
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Simple lunch tip

Monday seems to be the best day for me to get groceries because the kids are in school and the stores aren't as busy as the weekends.  If you're like me, you'll find there isn't much to pack in the kids' lunches early Monday before I get out.... but the past two weeks I used this for chicken salad sandwiches because I kept a stash in my pantry.
I thought it was a good idea for them to have that til I get my butt to the grocery store for fresh deli meat for the week.  They tend to eat mostly sandwiches, with the odd meal leftovers.  It's handy to keep a stash so I don't have to stress about what to pack in their lunches early Monday morning before I get to the grocery store.

What are some tips you have for making lunch easier?  What do your kids like to eat in their lunches?

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Presentness - Chapter 4

HI AGAIN!  I'm not sure where the summer went but I'm baaaack!  I've been wanting to write so many things but continuing with my blog series is at the top of the list!!  Welcome to part 4 of what I've learned from the book "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford.  

If you are just stopping in for the first time you can catch up by reading my previous posts via these links:
Chapter 1 - Awareness
Chapter 2 - Connectedness
Chapter 3 - Deliberateness

Today I'm sharing from Chapter 4 entitled, “Recognize the gift of today – Presentness”.  

You can either read my post below or watch/listen to the video {3min 16sec} where I'll read it to you.

My biggest take away from this chapter can be summed up easily:
I see you.
Little moments add up.
There will come a day when our kids aren’t there.

I told my kids just the other day that these are special years for their Dad and me because it’s really the only time we are all together as a family.  One day they will be grown with families of their own and we’ll just get the occasional visit.  These years are TREASURE and I recognize it!  That’s not to say these days don’t have their struggles – they do.  But I want to appreciate the good and let the fighting, discipline, conflict, and tears disappear with each day’s sunset.

Rachel reminds us in the opening of this chapter of what a gift TODAY really is. 
No longer would I bank on family vacations and holidays to invest time in relationships and create memories. It was the beginning of living, laughing, and loving every single day I was blessed to be alive.” p.70
Memories are built in the day to day simple interactions! We make ourselves mentally available to our kids on trips because they are designated family time but those extra special bonding moments don’t always happen on special occasions.  They are in the simple, normal, regular days.  Like when my son tells me a story with big lit up eyes and gigantic gestures.  Or when my daughter calls for me to show me something she’s made.  How I respond to those things, gets recorded in their little memories!
For it is in the everyday moments, doing routine activities, that we create the past.” p.74
And I want my past to be packed with those “feel good” moments, not idle waste.  And I have push through my selfishness when my kids are fighting and irriate me to get to this place.  I want them to know:
I see you. You matter. I love to watch you.” p.80
Simple but isn’t that a great reminder!?  I had to write it out!  It really sums up what I’m trying to accomplish here!  The reason I want to be present with my kids is so they know how much I love them and that they matter to me.  They’ll only know it based on how I act around them.

I love the reflection question at the end of the chapter:
Do you put off spending time with loved ones or delay doing things you enjoy until certain duties are complete and you have “more time”?   Does that ideal moment ever arrive?” p.86
I hope you are moved to appreciate time with your family!  I know I am!  {Which is why this series is taking me much longer than I had hoped to type up!!}

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hands Free Mama - Deliberateness - Chapter 3

Welcome to my blog series based on the book "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford.  

If you are just stopping in for the first time you can catch up by reading my previous posts via these links:

Today I'm sharing from Chapter 3 entitled, “Choose What Matters – Deliberateness”.  

You can either read my post below or watch/listen to the video {3min 40sec} where I'll read it to you.

I love how Rachel starts each chapter with an inspirational quote like this one:
At least three times every day take a moment and ask yourself what is really important. Have the wisdom and the courage to build your life around your answer.”  – Dr. Lee Jampolsky
This chapter just might be the one that stands out to me the most.  She gives so many ideas on what we can do to connect with our kids more.  I had no idea how many opportunities I was missing.  One example was time spent in a doctor’s waiting room.  I have pulled out my phone far too often while I expected my children to sit patiently beside me.  Since I read this book, I use these moments to engage with my children.  At our doctor’s office, they have a mat on the floor with letters and numbers.  I did math facts with the boys while they hopped on the answer.  I did animal trivia with them and they had to hop on the first letter of the answer.  Ie. "This is a bird that can’t fly but runs very fast."  O for ostrich.  It was a fun time for all of us and I think it brought smiles to the other people waiting too.

Rachel had some great ideas like having a bag specifically for waiting rooms.  I want to put together one using those activity and word search books we have floating around, note cards to write thank you or thinking of you cards, small toys that the kids don’t use that often, a deck of cards, etc.
The point is, there is a better way to spend that idle time.  I honestly never thought about it! Yelling at your annoying kid while you are entertained on a gadget is not fair!  I won't do that anymore!!

We say that spending time with family is important to us, well I say I should prove it!  Our kids grow fast and I know I don’t want to look back on these years with regret.  I feel like I am an involved Mom but Rachel gave ideas on how to be engaging in ways I hadn’t thought of before.  She pointed out the difference between sitting on the edge of the pool watching kids swim verses getting in and swimming with them.  So I choose to get in more, even when the kids play well and don't need me.  

I think swimming with them,
building sand castles with them,
coloring with them,
doing cartwheels with them,
playing basketball with them,
playing board games with them, etc all add up to happier, more connected memories than if I was just watching.  My problem is that I’m the photographer and I find myself observing my family playing more than I play with them.  I want to become an active participant in my children’s memories rather than sitting on the sidelines with a cell phone in hand.      

I want to add one more thing that wasn’t in the book but advice received from a lovely woman I know with amazing grown children.  Nancy Shelburn once told me to be sure that my husband and I get in family photos TOGETHER.  Now that the kids are older, I ask them to take pics for me.
A family trip last year to the Lego Discover Center in Boston, MA.
I think that is great advice for everyone!  My family isn’t just the kids, it’s all of us.  I try to take group shots when I can even if they aren’t perfect!  I'm sure the kids will enjoy looking at these one day!  I just ask the group to pose and snap.  I get what I get.  haha!  So there you go a bonus tip you won't find in the book!

So this week I am being more deliberate and investing in my children's lives.  Love this book for all the fresh ideas, especially since they are on summer break!!!

What fun thing do you love doing with your kids?

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