Coming home from a long day can become a sigh of relief rather than a means to an end. A house shelters the body, but a home nourishes the soul. Let’s be honest. This world can be brutal. Coming home from work, or even the grocery store, can bring us to a place of exhaustion. The youth of today are learning to regulate emotion, navigate relationships, create boundaries, create an identity AND retain school information. How much more exhausting must their days be than our own? It is important to infuse the belief that home is a safe place. Home is a sanctuary. Yes, there is discipline. Yes, there are expectations. However, once they step through those doors, it is important that they feel the permission to exhale.
Consider establishing a plan to create this type of environment. Find one or more that can be encoded into the DNA of your family and make the place you live a home of respite for your children.
UTILIZE THE SENSES
Our bodies are often more aware of our surroundings than our brain. Someone struggling with anxiety can attest to that fact. When a setting triggers a panic response, it can take the mind more time to understand the reason behind the concern.
Growing up, this was something my mother did well and did intentionally. Due to my experience, I have adopted her habits. Piano music and scented candles create within me a sense of wellbeing that is hard to describe. The sounds and smells become a blanket of peace that wrap me in calm and ease away the day. It has become a signal of security for me, as well as my husband, since introducing it into my home. My hope is that it will instill that same reaction within my children.
Candles may give you a headache and you may detest piano music. That is ok. Find a way to engage the senses in a different way. Cooking might be your passion and those smells may become that signal for your family. Colors, bright and vibrant or neutral and soothing could speak the language of home to your household. Even the presence of a pet, can become a method of bringing someone into the atmosphere of calm. Find traditions that fit with your personality and the culture of your family, and engage it often.
HAVE A ROUTINE WAY TO CONNECT
The drive home from carpool or the walk from the school bus may not be the best settings to communicate with your child. Sometimes giving them space, as Andrea reflected in “Morning Meltdowns and Afternoon Attitudes,” can be most helpful for them to begin recalibrating from the day. However, being intentional and listening to their input is important.
Develop a method of connection. When something that works becomes tradition, the expectation of connection can be a lifeline for our children. Ways to begin this process could be family dinner, game nights, or craft time. It can be tailored to each child or something you do routinely, like cooking or eating a meal. Invite your kid to come alongside. Selena speaks to this as well in “Connecting in the Chaos.” Going through their homework assignments can become more about allowing them to process their day, rather than the task itself. A vehicle for connection that becomes a routine, can allow your family to be intentional, and build memories together.
DISCOVER YOUR CHILD’S LOVE LANGUAGE
Gary Chapman, a pastor and author from North Carolina, has written many books exploring the five love languages. I would recommend, “The Five Love Languages of Children” by Dr. Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D. as a method to explore the different ways children feel the most loved. These ways include physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts and quality time. The presentation of these needs in children can look very different than adults.
Speaking love and encouragement intentionally can become a shield that protects our sons and daughters from the negativity and indifference of those they face in school. When they know they have an advocate in us, they have a foundation of feeling “enough.” The expression of love that targets their specific heart, will bring rhythms of peace into the walls of your home.
Life will always be difficult and perilous to navigate, but we can give our children a refuge. The storm of grades, low self-esteem, disappointments, hurts, heart-break, confusion and expectations will be present, but as parents we must be a safe haven in the midst of the storm. If not our home, where will they go to find comfort?
Trying to keep the winds at bay,
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