This post features the sweet sweet Malone family. Our session had been rescheduled three times since OCTOBER because of weather and when we finally got to shoot it still wasn’t the most beautiful day, but you would never know based on how much fun we had.
Working with families is a huge honor because it can be a really vulnerable thing to let someone in to your family dynamic. I get a glimpse of who you are together, who plays what role . . . the funny guy, the sensitive one, the ring leader, and how you play together. I can’t remember what podcast I was listening to recently but they talked about the 5 areas of a healthy family: love, presence, play, communication, and acceptance. (If it was you, send me a message so I can tag you!) If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know that my word for the year is “present.” My goal for the year in my family and in my business is to be fully present. I don’t know how your’e doing on your goals, but MAN this one is H-A-R-D. I have found, however, three things that really help me to connect with my family, to be fully present and to MAXIMIZE my time with my family.
1 – Put down your phone!
This one is kind of a given, but a hard one to keep up with, especially if you are a SAHM/WFHM (Stay at home mom/Work from home mom) and an extrovert. I love to be around people and to see people and know their stories, and when my day revolves around my kids and being at home for nap time, browsing social media can feel like it fills that part of my heart that is longing for connection. But I have these little people watching me…and THEY need connection too. The joyous part of working from home is that I get to be WITH my kids and learn to connect with them!
2 – Eat Together!
Growing up, meal time was always sacred, even in the midst of activities when we were older. My parents always made sure that at least one night a week, way more if possible, we had a nice meal, ate on real (read, not paper) plates, and sat down and talked together. When your kids are little it is so much easier to do this than when you throw in extracurricular schedules into the mix so start the habit now. There is something about eating together, not just being together, that creates an almost holy-like connection. Even Jesus thought it was important to break bread with people as he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 9:10). It is a unifying experience because we all need food and partaking in the same meal connects us, just as the conversation connects our hearts.
If you have picky eaters, meal time with toddlers can be stressful. I get it. We used to beggggg our oldest daughter to eat. “Just 5 more bites,” was one of the most used phrases in our house. Then our pediatrician gave me the best advice – she will eat when she’s hungry. And let me tell you – if given an opportunity to eat, no child will starve. Eventually they will eat the carrots, and you don’t even have to threaten time-outs to get there! My husband and I decided that meal time should not be stressful for her or for us. It took some time, and practice, and by no means am I an expert in stress-free meal time, but mamas – before you get frustrated and raise your voice at your child for not eating their broccoli – ask yourself, what is the eternal value here? Do I want my child to remember meal times as fun and enjoyable, a time of true connection, or do I want them to remember my frustration and sin? Read Matthew 15 to see how important it was to God for his children to “eat and be satisfied.” That’s what I want for my kids.
3 – Do something new!
Somehow, even though I love adventure, I often get stuck in a routine. Saturdays are for T-ball and family dinner dates, Sundays are for church and naps. . . you get the idea. But just doing something new together can be a really unifying experience. This weekend, for instance, we are going to a vintage car show/auction. Not gonna lie, I don’t really know what it is. Something to do with old cars. When I was first asked to go, my answer was “um…no.” Then I thought about how I have never been to a vintage car auction, nor have my kids, and thats something we can experience together. It can be as simple as playing a new $5 board game together, doing a puzzle, or as elaborate as experiencing Disney World for the first time with your kids! Whatever it is, trying something WITH your family, not just watching them have a new experience, is so bonding.