Tag: building relationships

Holiday Traditions

Family traditions are important.  And fun.  But it’s hard, when you are newly married, to meld your family traditions with your husband’s.  My husband and I have been doing this for twenty years now, so we’ve got it down!

Not only did we have to find a way to meld our traditions together, but we had to do away with some 🙁 and add new ones.  It’s been trial and error over the years, but I think we have our Christmas traditions established now!

Why are traditions so important?  The same reason why everything else is so important – because it builds a relationship with your child.  It is a way to spend time together.

I get told so very many times, and so does my husband, that we are amazing parents.  That our boys are so very awesome.  (They are!) And that they wish there were more kids like our kids in this world.  That kids now-a-days……well, I’m sure you can complete that sentence for me.  It’s one reason why folks have told me I should write a blog.

My husband and I always laugh.  And we have spent some time musing over this.  Why are our kids so amazing?  Most of it, honestly, is their own doing.  It is their own personalities and character that makes them so wonderful.

And we have nothing to do with that – no control over that. Who knows how the youngest three will turn out?!? Will my husband and I still be such good parents if we have one wild child? One little renegade coming up to throw the whole thing off? Because, I think we do! And oddly enough, he is the youngest of all the boys, the youngest twin.

We did, in all of our musings, though, decide that we do stand out from other parents in one simple way. There is one thing we do that we don’t see very many other parents doing.

Continue reading Holiday Traditions

26 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Child This Holiday Season



  1. Involve them in as many preparations as you can – gift wrapping, shopping, baking, etc.
  2. Eat at least one meal together every day.
  3. Pray together every night.
  4. Play outside! And be active – don’t just watch them. Run with them, swing with them, build a snowman with them, etc.
  5. Read together.
  6. Go sledding, skiing, snowmobiling or ice skating!
  7. Do household chores together, such as the dishes.
  8. Play a board game together.
  9. Engage your child in free or imaginative play, and then follow his/her lead – play what they want to play.
  10. Go for walks together.
  11. Go to the Library together.
  12. Spend time playing with and talking to your child while he/she is taking a bath.
  13. Watch a movie together – the Christmas classics are great!
  14. Sing together – or better yet, go Christmas Caroling!
  15. Go to church together.
  16. Volunteer together or do something nice for someone else together.
  17. Play with your cat/dog together.
  18. Make something for someone together. Pinterest has wonderful ideas!
  19. Visit a family member together.
  20. Take a class together, such as quilting or woodworking.
  21. Go out to eat, just you and your child.
  22. Go to his/her athletic event (basketball, hockey, etc.), concert or program.
  23. Watch Sunday or Monday Night Football together.
  24. Cook dinner together.
  25. Go for a drive – especially if you have a teenager – it’s the best place to have a good conversation. 🙂
  26. And finally, build Christmas Traditions together.


Any more ideas? Leave them in the comments!

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Child

‘Tis the Season…..

You can fill the end of that sentence in any way you want to right now. ‘Tis the season for absolute chaos! That might work. 😉 It’s hard, though, preparing for Christmas. Such a huge celebration. There are parties all month long, sometimes extending in to January. It’s one big celebration, starting with Thanksgiving and ending, for most, with New Years’. Some larger families really do celebrate well in to January though.

So there is gift buying, gift wrapping, possibly last minute gift making, tree decorating, goodies baking, Christmas Card making/buying/addressing/mailing. Presents that need to be shipped. Traveling. Meals to cook, parties to plan. Concerts and programs to go to, play in or sing in. Things get busy at church. People volunteer to help others in need more during this time of the year. And for some, there is extra work shifts, or moonlighting/temporary jobs, just to afford it all.

So how, as a working mom, or in my case, just a plain busy mom, does one fit it all in? How does one accomplish all of that on top of the everyday chaos? There’s still every day meals to prepare, laundry to do, diapers to change, toilets to clean, bills to pay, kids to chauffer, basketball/hockey/wrestling games/matches to attend, doctor appointments to make, baths to give, stories to read, prayers to say, etc. etc. etc. How do you do it all?

Well, if you are like me, you stay up late and do as much as you can in the middle of the night. (Your butt drags the whole holiday season!) And your kids are sorely neglected.

It’s the truth. Instead of playing outside, in this unusually warm December we are having here up North, the kids run around the house, willy-nilly, entertaining themselves, as I wrap presents, shop on line, or address Christmas Cards. It often leads to fights, owies, and a total disaster that I pay for later (in clean-up and in a bad case of the crabbie patties!). Their naps also get extended – just a bit – just long enough that they don’t notice the difference, buying me a few extra minutes. And everything gets done.

How else do you do it?

It doesn’t feel right at all. But in the end, the kids all get wonderful fun presents that make them forget all about how boring and (sometimes) mean mom has been in the last six to eight weeks. Right?

Wrong. That’s not what Christmas is all about!
Aside from the obvious (Celebrating Jesus), Christmas is about spending time with those we love. Shouldn’t our children be at the top of that list? And shouldn’t we make it a priority to spend time with them each and every day during the hustle and bustle of the holidays? Aren’t they the main reason we do it all to begin with? Let’s face it – we aren’t eating all those cookies. Or unwrapping all those presents. It’s for them. Let’s make them a part of the celebrating and preparing; a part of our everyday lives. Let’s give them the best of us. This Christmas, let’s give them our time. It is, after all, the best gift we could ever give them.

You Are Going To Mess Them Up Anyway

I was out with some girls the other day and we were discussing our kids, as moms do. One of the girls was worried about an incident she had with her children, and the impact it would have. Another one of the girls, a woman whom I always think of as a calm voice of reason, replied, “Let’s face it – you were going to mess them up anyway!”

And I laughed because it is so true. We, as parents, are going to do our absolute best to raise our children according to our values and we, as parents, are going to do our absolute best to shield them from any hurt along the way.

But we are only parents. We can’t control everything in their lives and protect them from all. Least of all from ourselves.

I’m a prime example.

I was unpacking from our recent move and I came across the journals I keep for my boys. (I periodically write to each one. It gets less and less over the years. But my plan is to give them to the boys when they become adults.) I unwisely opened it up and read.

The random page I opened up to was harmful. It brought me back to 2011. I was planning for my then youngest child’s birthday party. I need to confess something before I go any further. I don’t do parties. I don’t entertain. I host nothing. It is WAY TOO STRESSFUL. I can clean my house beautifully for any such event. But put me in the kitchen to prepare and anything I make is a total disaster, even if I have successfully made it a million times before. And then put all those people in my house, for me to entertain, and well, I don’t like that idea. 😉 Graduation is not going to be fun! (And it is most certainly going to be traumatizing for all of my boys!)

So on this such day, I was trying to cram all the party planning and preparing in to one evening – the day before the party. Because I am a busy, working mom. I didn’t have time to prep a little each day. Those days had other such priorities. I was baking an awesome cake and getting everything ready the night before, after I had finished work, just as I always do.

It was, of course, a disaster. I enlisted the unwilling help of my oldest, who was 13 at the time.   The journal talks about how I felt that night.  I felt like I was the only one around the house that did anything.  I was feeling like my family needed to step it up and help out more.  I was worried because he spent his days playing XBOX, and didn’t know how to properly do things such as babysit his then seven-year old brother, clean house, mow lawn, till the garden, pick the vegetables, etc.  I talked about how gone was the loving, sweet boy and in his place was this crabby teenager.

He must have complained, did a crappy job, or something. Because the journal talks about how I made him feel like he was no good, worthless, useless, and I was so so sorry. Because I loved him.  And never wanted to hurt him.

I remember chewing him out for not helping. I must have said some pretty awful things, because I remember collapsing on the floor in tears at three o’clock in the morning. The rest of the house was asleep. I bawled because I was certain I was the most horrid mom ever. I let the stress of the event get to me and totally took it out on my oldest. Who probably deserved a talking too, but not the screaming at that he got.

I wrote about how I was an awful mom, never getting his laundry done for him, missing important events, like getting the money in for picture day. I was obviously having a hard time balancing work and family life, and the stress of it was getting to me.

I swore I’d never forget this awful night. I swore to myself that I would always keep it under control. I’d be a better mom.

But I did forget about that night. I didn’t remember it until I read it just recently. And so I asked my oldest, now 17, if he remembered it.

Yup. He remembered it. He said it was awful, probably one of my worst “freak out moments”. (Apparently I have a lot of them….) And he laughed.

And that was it.

It was probably more traumatizing to me than it was to him. Kids are amazingly resilient. They can bounce back from almost any trauma. All it takes is a couple of people in their lives that show them unconditional love and support. A couple of people that are steady rocks, there for them always. A couple of good quality relationships.

I knew this from my own training as a social worker. But you don’t look at it that way as a mom. I think, as moms, we should stop trying to protect our kids from everything – especially from ourselves, because, let’s face it, if anyone is going to mess them up, it is going to be us.

So let’s admit defeat at the get go, and instead of trying to be perfect, let’s work on damage control. Let’s assume we are going to mess our kids up. Greatly. Instead of trying to avoid that, let’s spend time building resiliency. Let’s establish that relationship. Make it a good one. Tell them how much we love them each and every day. Hugs and Kisses. Ask them how their day was. Eat supper together. Watch a movie together. Play a game. You know the drill. Give kids your time. That’s all it takes. The rest will be remembered, but will pale in comparison.

Oh, and by the way, I’m an older and wiser mother now. I was so worried at that time that my son was not learning how to be a responsible adult, that he didn’t know enough basic household stuff. He spent his days avoiding us and hanging out with his friends.

Now he spends his days hanging out with us, every chance he can get. He can balance the responsibilities of work, school, college classes, athletics, friends and a girl friend.  He is absolutely amazing with little kids. And he is almost ready to be released in to the world (he heads off to college next year). He was just going through a crappy little teenage phase at the time, that I managed to overlook somehow. I was much easier on the next two when they hit that phase!

Live and learn with the first one, right? 😉