Have you ever seen one of these extreme close-up photos? They usually look really bizarre, but are often an extreme close-up of something mundane. Once you pull back and see what it really is, you often find you have a new appreciation for the entire object.
The Bible makes it clear children are a special blessing from God. Yet, we often get so caught up in their future, we forget to enjoy the present with them. Instead, we find ourselves stressed, frustrated and exhausted. We suddenly realize not only is our joy gone, but we are not even thanking God anymore for the blessing of our children.
How can we remind ourselves of the joyful blessing our children are instead of constantly stressing about their future? Perhaps, we need to find a way to take a look at the extreme close-ups of parenting our kids. Maybe then, we can marvel at our children and find our joy for parenting refreshed.
Summer is a great time to re-capture the joy of parenting. More relaxed schedules allow us to spend more time doing the things we love with our children. We can take an extreme close-up of a moment in time with our children and revel in the beauty of it. Here are some ideas you can use this summer (or really anytime) to remind yourself how enjoyable parenting really is.
- Keep a journal or photo file of all of the wonderful things your children say or do. It may be those sweet butterfly kisses of your toddler or a teen who shows concern for you when you aren’t feeling well. It may be a photo of those sweet baby feet or a picture of your child winning an award. When you have those stressful days, pull out your journal and read through it to remind yourself of how wondrous and wonderful your children really are. Stop and thank God for giving you this special blessing for so many years.
- Take a break from everything. Turn off all electronic devices (especially phones). Take your kids somewhere new in your area, have a backwards day, spend the day in p.j.’s playing board games, have breakfast for supper or picnic in your living room. No one is allowed to do anything productive or worry about anything that needs to be done. Just enjoy being together as a family.
- Pull out old baby albums and share them with your children. Most kids love hearing stories and seeing pictures from a time in their lives they don’t remember. It is also fun to find out what events do bring back memories for them. Find something they used to enjoy, but don’t remember and take them back now that they are older. We had a blast with our daughter a couple of years ago at Disney World as she relived old memories and created new ones. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Often there is a park or other fun place in your town that you stopped frequenting once your children started school. Go back and enjoy it with them now.
- Give each child a budget and let them create their perfect day to be enjoyed with you (siblings can be optional if you wish!). Spend a day with each of your children seeing things from their perspective. What things do they love? What links can you see to other members of your family? What kind of person is your child becoming?
- Go on a hike with your kids. I am not the biggest outdoorsy person you will ever meet, but I do enjoy a nice hike. There is something about being on a path with few people that causes people to share things they normally may keep to themselves. (Make sure the trail is well marked or the experience could take an ugly turn for awhile!)
- Go to the beach or go early to an outdoor concert and have a picnic. There are lots of summer activities that allow you to just sit for awhile and enjoy being together. Take advantage of a few of them. Don’t allow electronic devices or you will find everyone interacting with them instead of each other.
- Take each child to their favorite restaurant or better yet, one they have been wanting to try. (Set a budget if necessary!) During the meal, ask them about their dreams. If they could go anywhere, where would it be? If they won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, what would they do with the money? If they could have any talent, what would it be and why? What do they think is the most interesting job in the world? If Jesus were on earth today, what would upset him the most? What dreams does your child have for God? What is something your child has wanted to try, but has been afraid to attempt? Share your own dreams too. You may just be surprised at how this meal brings back your joy as it strengthens the bond between you and your child. (Don’t critique any answers unless they are ungodly. This is a fun exercise, not a “stomp on your child’s dreams” time.)
What other ways have you found to put the joy back in your parenting? I would love for you to share them in a comment below. Whatever else you do this week, take the time to thoroughly enjoy your children and thank God for His blessings.
P.S. In case you were wondering about the photo – it’s the eye of a common house fly! Show it to your kids and see if they can figure it out. Then see if they can find more in a book or magazine and trick you. Or give them a digital camera and see if they can create their own special photos. Enjoy their senses of humor, creativity and imagination.