13 July 2010

O is for Offense

When I had my first child, I was clueless about how important an organized offense would be in successful mothering. I thought that it would be easy for family dinners to fall into place, that I'd want to spend every waking moment on the floor playing Little People with my children, that we'd always have a weekly academic theme complete with developmentally appropriate activities, and that we'd never struggle with squeezing in scripture study and family prayer. I had high expectations for our family. Then reality set in. All of those things took time and serious organization to plan. And to my surprise, I didn't always have the desire or energy to put into preparations.

My expectations have definitely lowered in some regards, but I'm trying my best to focus on the important things. Our children are still so young, but with so much negative in the world, I have realized more and more how necessary it is to have an offense at home to build them up. Before serious defense becomes necessary.

We have a few offenses that are standard.

1. Family Dinners

Life is crazy and sometimes forcing a moment to sit down together can be pretty tough. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for Troy to get home from work and the hunger really sets in. It seems like the baby always needs to be fed or held the second we sit down at the table. But, we do our very best to make family dinnertime a priority. We talk about our "happies" and "sads" from the day. Blake's happies are usually whichever outing we went on or errand we ran, and his sads are inevitably that he lost his m&m or band-aid. Most of the time this ritual leads to good discussions and helps us to share what really happened during the day instead of just saying it was "good" or "fine." Family dinners have become automatic and they are a great offense.

2. Making Meaningful Memories

Another offense we have is making meaningful memories. If I don't push to make memories, our life becomes the same every day; the boys play and take naps, Troy goes to work, and I keep up the house and do projects. This weekend included a "first" for our family. We took the boys to their first movie on the big screen. I have to admit, I had low expectations for a two and a half year old and a baby at the theater, but I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I only had to stand up once to bounce the baby to sleep and Blake stayed seated the entire time (only occasionally shouting, "Buzz!" "Woody!" at the Toy Story 3 screen). I don't know what it was, but we felt like such a family after this activity. I love that it was a "first" among memories.

3. Weekly Family Night

Family meetings are a huge family offense for us. We try to set aside time every Monday night for a family home evening meeting. We avoid making other plans because Monday nights are family nights. Sometimes we go out and do activities together, but most of the time we just talk about our upcoming schedules and arrangements that need to be made, sing songs, share a brief message that works for a toddler attention span, have an activity, and eat a treat.

I've tried to be better lately about preparing ahead of time for family night. That doesn't mean I'm great at having every detail planned out. Sometimes Most of the time I'm scrambling at the last minute to find a message to share. And even though we are consistent at holding family night, it doesn't mean that Blake isn't begging to go outside or whining for m&m's while we're trying to share a message with him. Hopefully though, some of what we are trying to achieve is sinking in.

This week, we talked about the important truths in the song "I am a Child of God." We taught the boys that they really are children of God. That Heavenly Father sent them to a home on earth with parents to help them. That when they do what is right, they can one day return to live with God. We talked about how every child of God is different. We showed Blake pictures of himself and Nash and pointed out differences in their physical traits and in their inner talents. We told Blake how special he was.

I tucked Blake onto my lap and told him some things he was good at. Troy and I wrote the first letter of some of his talents on each of his fingertips. "F" for being funny, "P" for being polite and always using the phrase "May I have some (fill in the blank) please," "B" for being a kind and sharing big brother, "M" for having an amazing memory, and "C" for being cautious and calm.


Blake beamed. Delight poured out of him for the next hour. He walked over to Nash numerous times to show him the "B" that stood for being a wonderful brother.

It made him feel happy.

It made him feel secure.

When the letters washed off, he begged to do it again.

What could possibly be a better offense than making your child believe that he can succeed? The point of all of the offenses that we are trying to establish is to build up our children and each other. They create a forum for random as well as important things to be talked about. Even at young ages, the habits that we have started make our boys feel like important parts of our family "whole." So, maybe I don't have perfectly planned out curriculum every day like I thought I would, maybe our family dinnertime sometimes consists of take-out meals, and maybe I don't spend every waking moment on the floor with my children, but the bottom line is that consistent time together makes families stronger. That is an offense worth fighting for.


5 comments:

  1. This was written so well Linds. I love what you did for FHE Monday. We played a game a few weeks ago that involved saying things we liked about each other, and I was surprised to see how thoughtful Skyler's answers were. You're right. I don't think it's possible to build up our children's self esteem too much.

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  2. Nice photoshopping! I'm impressed!

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  3. What a great post! You're such a good mother. Such a good family. This is a great idea for FHE, we may have to steal it from you (when our kids are old enough to understand). I love the idea of having a strong offense at home and starting even from young ages to teach them the important things.

    Also, I'm with you on taking a lot of pictures (surprise, surprise). I learned in high school that while it may bug people or embarass me in the short run, it was always worth it in the long run and often those same people would come back and ask for pictures. Ha!

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  4. That was great Linds. And it would have been really great to include in my RS lesson a couple weeks ago. Darn. :)

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  5. I couldn't agree more. For a long time I was feeling really bogged down with how corrupt society has become. I have such a strong desire to raise children but I'm terrified that I won't be able to prevent them from becoming damaged somehow. Ultimately I came to the same conclusion you did-- develop a good offense and you won't have to constantly worry about coming up with a so-so defense. Good for you for starting when your kids are young. They will thank you for this someday!

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