5 Ways To Be A More Intentional Parent
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Thank you to Lindsay McCarthy for putting together this awesome post! Read to the end of the post to learn how you can access an exclusive interview with Lindsay where we chatted more about intentional living and about her book [affilliate link] The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families.
With so many distractions around us constantly, it can be difficult to carve out time for ourselves and time to truly connect with our children. I have found it helpful to build in protected time on a regular basis for self-care and to bond with my kids. Research has shown that staying connected with your child is very important for their well-being. (click to tweet!)
According to the Education Training Research Associates:
Parent Child Connectedness (or PCC) is characterized by the quality of the emotional bond between parent and child and by the degree to which this bond is both mutual and sustained over time. When PCC is high in a family, the “emotional climate” is one of affection, warmth, satisfaction, trust, and minimal conflict. Parents and children who share a high degree of connectedness enjoy spending time together, communicate freely and openly, support and respect one another, share similar values, and have a sense of optimism about the future.
PCC has been called a “super-protector” as it has been linked to the prevention of such family challenges as drug use, violence, and unintended pregnancy in adolescents. As families become more pressed for time in our technology-riddled world, we need to be more purposeful about connecting with one another. Five of the easiest ways we have found to promote PCC in our home are (1) practice The Miracle Morning together as a family, (2) not to overschedule our kids, (3) have consistent family dinners, (4) hold quarterly family board meetings with each child, and (5) have a bedtime ritual.
Practice The Miracle Morning as a Family
My husband and I discovered The Miracle Morning Life S.A.V.E.R.S. in 2014. Since then, we’ve been waking up early to fit in our self-care with time in silence, saying affirmations, visualizing, exercising, reading and scribing each morning. Soon after we started doing this morning ritual, our children asked for their own practice. In our book, [affiliate link] The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families, we created a new acronym for kids called C.H.A.R.M.S.- creativity, health, affirmations, reading, meditation and service. Now we all practice The Miracle Morning together.
Don’t Overschedule Your Children (or yourself!)
If you find that your family is stressed out, you may be overscheduling. (click to tweet!) Take a step back and do a stress inventory of your family life. Try asking yourself three questions: What do you want to keep doing (or do more of)? What do you want to start doing? And what do you want to stop doing? Use these focus questions to see which activities you can cut out of your schedule.
If it’s something your kids can’t live without but doesn’t bring you joy, see if there is a carpool situation you can be part of or look for another creative solution. The bottom line is that doing too much is stressful to both parents and children, so by strategically eliminating activites that doesn’t serve your family, you will create more space and freedom for everyone to enjoy their lives.
Make a Commitment to Family Dinners
One of the most common examples of protected time is the family dinner. It’s also one of the most neglected time slots in our lives as families today. How often do we schedule things over the dinner hour? Or let other activities take priority during that time? Yet we know how important it is to reconnect with one another after a busy day, every day. Right?
Sitting down to share a meal is so important for the communication in the family. To supercharge the family dinner, don’t ask your kids how their day was or what they did at school, but go for specific and open-ended questions. Try the [affiliate link] Melissa & Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions or [affiiate link] Table Topics- Family for this purpose. Simply get the words flowing. I’d also suggest having a no-electronics rule at the dinner table so everyone can be fully present with each other.
Hold Quarterly Family Board Meetings with each Child
Another simple parent-child connectedness initiative we have implemented is called the Family Board Meeting. Jim Sheils, our friend and the author of The Family Board Meeting, explains how important it is to schedule a four- to six-hour meeting with each one of your kids individually once a quarter. This is time directed by your child for the purpose of creating quality interactions with them and focusing on intentionally building your relationship together.
In his book, Jim lays out three steps for a successful Board Meeting:
1. Be one-on-one with your child.
2. Have no electronics.
3. Do a fun activity of the child’s choosing with focused reflection.
My husband and I book our Family Board Meetings on the same day, so Mike and Tyler will be
together at the same time as Ember and I. Then the next time we switch so that each parent will have two meetings each quarter.
Sometimes we get so crazy-busy in our lives, we forget to take time to do something fun with our kids. The quarterly family board meeting is time earmarked to let your kids lead you on an adventure and for you to reconnect with them. We schedule our dental appointments and doctor appointments way in advance? Why not schedule a date with your child? And keep that commitment no matter what!
Have a Consistent Bedtime Ritual
Another easy way to connect with your kids on a daily basis is to have a bedtime ritual. When the kids know what to expect each night for bedtime it helps ease the transition from being awake to sleep.
Your family’s bedtime ritual will be different from ours, but the important thing is to be as consistent as possible. Good bedtime rituals for anyone include limiting exposure to bright lights and screens that emit blue light, which is especially disruptive to our circadian rhythm. There are special filters you can get for laptops and tablets if you have to work after dark, and we even have special night-lights for our kids that do not emit any low blue light. A good night’s sleep is so important to optimal health, so schedule everyone’s bedtime so that they get their required amount of sleep.
Meet the Author
Lindsay McCarthy is the co-author of The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families. She lives in PA with her loving husband Mike and two beautiful kids, Tyler and Ember. She loves to travel, write, garden and do anything outdoors. You can find her on her blog www.GratefulParent.com or in her Facebook Community.