I am not a psychologist. I am not a doctor. I do not have a certification in child development. I do not claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination. What I do have to offer is perhaps a different perspective or new idea. But first let me begin by telling you a little bit about how I got to this place in motherhood.
The day my first daughter was born I was ecstatic. It was a day filled with anticipation, excitement, and the most overwhelming love I have ever experienced. I had an idea of the type of mom I was going to be. As most of us do, I set expectations for myself that were completely unattainable. The weeks and months following that special day were filled with sadness, disappointment, and panic. I can’t really explain it but soon realized that I was dealing with postpartum depression. I was nothing I expected myself to be. Thankfully, after several doctor appointments my true self started coming to the surface. During this time though my home was anything but a peaceful refuge. Once I fully recovered I was determined to have a home that was just that, a peaceful refuge for my family.
Today I can say that I have reached my goal. Sure it is chaotic and absolutely nothing is perfect. There are times of fighting, stress, exhaustion, messes, sickness, etc. but at the center of this home is a sense of peace and togetherness. This did not just happen. I was intentional, present in the moments, and determined for it to be this way. The overarching reason why, my children. I truly believe that it is so important for everyone to have a safe place. For some unfortunately it may not be their own home but that of family member or friend. As our children enter into the adult world they will undoubtedly face trials, hardships, disappointments, and failure but knowing they have a place to come to where they are supported and can escape such things to rest is essential. Thankfully, I have a supportive spouse who joins me in this effort but everyone may not. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do things to create an emotionally safe place for your family. I am going to discuss a few things I do to set the tone in my home.
Remember you are in charge. Too many times I have let my children control the tone in my home. If they are particularly grumpy that day then I am too but that puts them in charge. For my strong willed child, this is a method of control. I have to remember that they do not control my emotion and they need to know this as well. One day my son wanted a toy and after being told no declared this was going to be a bad day. I quickly reminded him that if he wanted to have a bad day that was his choice but I was going to have a good day, be grateful and happy. He pouted for a little bit but once he realized I wasn’t joining in his bad day, he decided he would rather join me. Remembering this truth allows you to better set the tone for your home.
Begin and end the day positively. No matter what has happened during the course of your day be sure to allow your kids a fresh start. Each night tell them how much you love them, how much you enjoy them and to rest easy. The build up of past troubles is detrimental to our goal. If it has been a particularly rough day I address it before bed saying that it was a hard day but tomorrow is new and that a hard day does not change how much I love them. The first time I said this to my son, he seemed surprised. That broke me. I make it a point know to reassure him my love is unconditional. In the morning let them see you smile and that you are happy to see them. I believe children mimic our mood so I don’t want to set them up for anything but a good day.
Allow your children to be themselves. Discipline is about teaching and correcting, right? You’ve heard the saying, “Choose your battles”. If a particular behavior is maybe annoying but not wrong, try to let it go. My daughter is entering the goofy stage right now. This is not my favorite stage so far especially when I am busy. But it is important for me to let her be herself. How does this create a peaceful tone? Think about being somewhere you feel it necessary to perform or match a particular standard. Are you comfortable? Yeah, me either. If anyone in our home feels they have to be something they aren’t then it is going to create tension and stress. Letting our guard down when we are together gives a sense of comfort and acceptance therefore leading to the safe place you are after.
Be together. Laugh, cry, play, talk, learn, work together. Joining together for all of lifes’ ups and downs is what makes us close. I have a large extended family (over 100 people) that do just this. We have reunions, play games, sit in hospital waiting rooms, join each other at graduations, football games, weddings, baby showers, funerals, and anything else that is happening in life. This produces a closeness and it is reassuring to know that when something good or bad happens I have their support. This should be even more true for my immediate family. I picture the closeness developed from being together and supporting one another as a wall surrounding my family. It is a form of protection from the uncertainties of life. Knowing you have people in life with you is affirming and builds confidence in our little ones.
I hope this has been encouraging to you and possibly a new perspective on setting the tone in your home. I love finding things to do together to help aid this process like a seasonal bucket list or night time routine. I recently read an article by Lori Lite about using music to reduce stress if you have had a extra stressful day. You should check it out at Stress Free Kids. I’m sure a lot of you have fabulous ideas to add so let me know in the comments below.
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