Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Celebrate My Children

I'm sharing the five goals that I set for myself when the quarantine started. I already shared about keeping a routine. My second goal was to "celebrate my children."

As a homeschooling mom, I spend nearly every waking hour with my children. Most of my energy and brain cells are given to them. It could sound like I'm a good mom - and I hope I am. But I know how often my heart isn't in the giving. How often I resent the giving. How often I withhold my heart.

Often, especially in the past few years, I've done the bare minimum in mothering. I did laundry and made meals and even read books to them. (I always read books.) But I didn't do more than I had to.

I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty. There is days (months, years) that the bare minimum is all a mom can do. Children need to learn that all of life is not all about having fun. Mothers are not the Entertainer or Magic Genie. Children need to do chores, to contribute to the family life, and to accept limitations.

But too often I say "No" to a project, to an idea, to a special treat, just because I don't want to be bothered by the extra effort.

When I learned that we would be home all day, every day, for who-knows-how-long, I knew I needed to find special ways to celebrate my children. I decided to say "yes" more.

1. Say "yes" to special treats and menus. 

Does it matter if we stay up late some night and eat ice cream before bed? Probably not. But usually I would think of another collection of dirty dishes in the sink and say "no."

And why will I go to the "bother" of making soft pretzels when we have friends over, but never make them just for my children?

That first week I left the children plan menus. Of course they picked things we rarely, if ever, have - like rootbeer floats. Though I should have been avoiding grocery stores, I ended up at the store more often that week. But we had a lot of fun at meals that week- and the weeks after. Since losing Ed, I've lost a lot of joy of cooking, but the past month, I've enjoyed it more, maybe because I've considered the wishes of my children more when planning meals.

2. Say "yes" to messy.

Any home with six children is going to get untidy. I'm used the mess of Lego, dolls, and puzzle pieces. But when the children get out paints on the dining room table or start carving in the living room, I groan. And I don't usually initiate any ideas that make more messes.

One evening, my son helped me plan a mystery supper for the others. We prepared a meal with lots of individual components. We printed up menus with each food item and utensil - giving each a mystery name. Each person chose the mystery items they wanted for their three courses and wrote them on their menu. Then we served each course. Some had chosen (unintentionally) to eat chili, jello, and icecream with no utensils. The children had never had a mystery supper. Saying "yes" to messy, on this night, meant saying "yes" to lots of laughter.

3. Say "yes" to projects.

I can procrastinate a long time with projects that upset the household. Maybe I'm too stuck on routine. I know that tackling a project will mean a neglect of other things. But when our calendar cleared out, I figured this was a great time for projects.

My oldest daughter wanted to paint the girls' room. I can come up with all sorts of reasons not to paint, but my daughter did most of the work. After two or three days, their room looked so fresh and clean. The rearranged furniture expanded the size of the room. The upheaval was worthwhile. Now I'm working on two more painting projects both inside and out. Fitting a proejct around school means that it will drag out a while, but if I waited for the perfect time, I would never start.

I know that there are many times a mom needs to say "no" to their children. But the last few weeks I've discovered that I say "no" too often, when I just don't want to be bothered. Since I've been purposely looking for ways to celebrate my children, I've discovered that I'm a bit more selfish than I want to admit.

What about you? I'd love to hear what you are doing with your children on these days of quarantine.


  1. It's good to read of a mom who is as normal and ordinary as me. I'm giving you a big thumbs-up and I bet your children are, too! Blessings and prayers...

  2. Ugh, these have been my same thoughts lately. Saying no comes so easily and automatically for me. Saying yes takes much more effort but is almost always worth it in the end. Our best family memories have come from the yes moments! But I STILL have a hard time getting past the inconveniences.

  3. I know how you feel... my two boys never had Legos because I just didn't want to deal with the mess of them. They are in their 40s now with children of their own and they ALL have Legos! I read to them every night before bed, I did all the "normal"mom things, but like you, I often said "no" to messy, fun and big projects. But I raised some pretty amazing kids so must have done something right. Don't be so hard on yourself... you're a good mom!

  4. Inspiring food for thought--thank you for this, Gina!

  5. Glad you are taking time to "say yes" to your children. If the Lord tarries in 5 years your children will be older and you won't have as much time to "say yes" to them. You are doing the right thing at this present time. Blessings to you.

  6. Yeah my Mom told me after I was grown that she wished she'd let us play in the living room that she regretted that. I think we all have a lot of things we regret not allowing our children to do. I am glad you're allowing yours and yourself to chill and have some fun and laughter. You sure wont regret the time you spent with them that's for sure. Love reading your blog!

  7. I am blessed with your attitude toward your children. You could be completely immersed in your own griefs and losses and neglect your children.....or at least view them as necessary evils. But you are choosing to celebrate them, in spite of your own pain. Bless you! (Also a widow's kid who is now an adult)

  8. It's encouraging to read of a mom who says "no" to the same kind of things I do, who then said "yes" to some very good ones. I'm sure your children are encouraged, too! I am inspired to follow in your footsteps in this godly action. :)

  9. You are amazing. Thank you for the good example! (I am too prone to saying no!)


  10. I think most Mums have said no when it should have been a yes. Getting the balance right is hard, yet you make my heart glad that you are allowing yourself to celebrate your children. They grow so fast and time passed so quickly, make memories that but a smile on your face. My children are working adults and I've learnt to say yes more often, after all that job that needs your attention can usually wait. Blessings to you and your family xx

  11. My girls have created a stuffed animal house out of cardboard and it has been in our front room for days! My automatic response is to ask them to clean up the mess. Did I mention they are painting the boxes? Something stopped me and I realized that #1 there will be no company to see the mess and #2 this is exactly what I want in their lives.....creativity! Thank you for this thoughtful article.

  12. This is inspiring, Gina. Your examples and reasons are so similar to mine - I've been trying to say yes more and play more and to be frank with my kids about why I'm saying no AND yes :) So comforting to hear what other moms think.


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