I am sitting in the quiet here for just a minute. Life with my family is full… and sometimes, a little frenzied. Each of my children has their own activities, struggles, passions, and quirks. Each one needs my attention, affirmation, and affection in very specific ways.
But there is just one me.
When I am really honest, I can attest to the fact that being pulled in four different directions has often been hard for me. My quietest one needs to be gently engaged while my busiest one needs a calming presence. My most sensitive child needs to process while my most competitive needs wisdom about when to fight. My yes for one may easily be a very firm no to another. And all the while, life itself battles for my attention.
Meals and messes…
Technology and television…
Disorganization and distraction…
All of these… and so many others… elbowing one another to fight for face-time in front of my family.
It can wear a girl out. Can I get an Amen?
So what does any of this have to do with Thanksgiving?
As we ease ourselves into the beginning of the holiday season, it is so easy to overlook the people we love best and allow the most pressing “emergency” to take our attention and our time.
And yet, if we all sat down together, coffee in hand and someone asked us what or who we were most thankful for… our families would likely come first.
Do we live this way? I am asking myself and I am asking you because, honest-to-goodness, we are in this together. If we would answer that our loved ones are our highest priority, does our spending of time, our donating of attention, corroborate that tale?
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s find a few minutes to try these things:
- Let’s see meals and messes in their proper importance. Yes, a big meal and family time are coming. But aside from that dinner, and our needed preparations, can we find some perspective to increase our peace? I love good food and a neat-ish house just as much as the next girl. But this week, how about if we try to see food as a function and dial down our need for cleanliness in exchange for face-to-face time with our families? Aside from our turkey feast, try to plan a meal or seven that are simple to prepare and to clean. Better yet, have your kids help a bit and try to be present as they do. And, how about if you try bringing the family together into a room that needs some picking up and set a timer for 90 seconds of work. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better. Your family will be thankful that cleaning up did not take nearly so long, and you can focus on enjoying more time together. That is a reason for gratitude!
- Technology and television take a lot of time. A LOT. We listen to our kiddos while scrolling through Facebook. We give away time by allowing our phone notifications to pull us away from those who matter most. We can make a couple small tweaks and our families will feel this in really big ways. Try leaving the TV off at night and let there be some quiet for homework and for chats. Are there programs you just LOVE? (Me, too. This is Us!) Use your DVR or watch them online at a time when the kids are asleep. Or schedule time for family programming and make it feel more like an event than an interruption. And that technology that is distracting you day and night? This week, change your phone settings to remove notifications you do not NEED. Think about setting your phone down while your kids are talking. Small changes, friend. But big results. You may find yourself feeling really thankful for stories from school and silly conversations and the way your child’s smile looks missing a tooth or covered in braces. There is beauty in the little things if we make room to see.
- Distraction and disorganization are things we worry about a lot. For just this week, let’s hope that simplifying meals and setting down our phones will help with distraction and let’s cut ourselves some slack about disorganization. Having the family help with 90-second clean-ups can make this easier too. And every time the stress of these tries to push on in… intentionally push back. We are not planning a home that is Pinterest-worthy. Instead, we are soaking up minutes and memories that make life-rich and worth experiencing. I am so thankful for that…
I want to choose gratitude this week. I want to be present with my family and notice them well. I want to hear the tone of my little ones’ voices and soak up the minutes when they draw near. I want to listen to the stories they are eager to share and I want to relax, exhale, truly BE with my family this week.
Even when it is hard, even when we are battling through illness or school stress or behavior bumps, I want to be thankful. I want to be thankful that we are here, together, working it out. I want to think about what my kids will remember and make it possible for me to be a part of those thoughts. I want them to know and understand the wonder and grittiness of family and I want to soak up the littlest details of who they are right now.
My kids and your kids were gifts to us. They were and are entrusted to us by a God who did not make a mistake. You are the one who is supposed to love and teach them. You are the one they need to snuggle with and yell at. You are the parent that is perfectly prepared, even on the worst day, to be with your kids. That’s a pretty big truth… I am reminding myself, too.
So, here we go! It’s Tuesday of a big week.
Push back against all that fights to take your gratitude away. In tiny ways, choose Thanksgiving by living out your love for your family.
Choose them. See them. Simplicity will make you smile.