Tuesday, February 16, 2016:

How Do You Show Your Love...Everyday

Maybe it's new baby, Valentine's Day spill-over love, but at least 100 times a day I find myself pausing and taking in small moments with my family.  I am utterly overwhelmed with emotion when I look at my three (THREE) boys and my handsome husband.  The days can be chaotic- three kids four and under will do that- but the love trumps the crazy!

I never want my children to question my love...ever!  It's easy for me to give and receive love during special occasions like new baby arrivals and Valentine's Day, but it's my goal as a parent to share love everyday- somewhere between middle of the night feedings, early morning wake ups, timeouts and stomach bugs (many moms may argue that my participation in the aforementioned is love in and of itself but I'm not sure my two year old would see my maternal lovie dovie while I'm complaining about another messy diaper change!).

So what do I do everyday...

1.  100 kisses.  Yes, I try to give my boys 100 kisses a day.  Do I really keep track? No. But at the end of the day I'll ask them if I gave them my 100 kisses and make up for the ones I've missed with a silly little kiss marathon.  They giggle and I smile as I wonder how long they will let me keep this tradition!

2. I'm the Lucky One.  Growing up, whenever I'd complain about rules, curfews, and other eye-roll-worthy parenting nuisances, my mom would always remind me of how lucky I was.  While getting grounded seemed like the worse thing in the world, I quickly realized how privileged I was and can appreciate that so much more now that I'm a parent. As lucky as my kids are to be born into a loving and stable home with boundaries and expectations of social appropriate behavior (sometimes), I, too, am the lucky one to have three beautiful and healthy boys.  I recently read about a fellow blogger who makes it a point to tell her kids that it's a "privilege" to be their mom.  I've adopted this and I've added it into our bedtime routine.  After books and after each of us shares our "high/low" of the day, I tuck the boys in and snuggle them.  We have our own little conversation that always includes my telling them how lucky I am to be their mom.  It truly is a privilege- even on the most challenging of days!

3. Patience. Patience. And more patience.  I'll be the first to admit that I can sometimes fly off the handle!  I hate to yell but sometimes it takes losing my cool to get their attention.  Generally this backfires because my four year old seems hurt when I yell and often will follow up with me a few minutes later to ask if I'm still angry.  That's just a tad bit heartbreaking.  Additionally my hulk baby two year old will mimic my yelling and I worry if he'll do this at his play school in front of his teachers!  I won't sit here and type that my goal is to not yell at my kids, I'm human, but when I have the time and the emotional capacity for self-control, I try to choose patience.  You need to go to the bathroom?....again?....right now?...seconds before you rest your head on the pillow for bedtime?  Sure.  You're thirsty?...again?...at bedtime?...even though we were just in the bathroom where there is a sink and cups?  

Ok so a lot of this clearly shows how easily my kids manipulate me.  But I'm a quick learner and I've proactively gotten ahead of these convenient little bedtime-stalling rituals.  And even though another attempt at using the potty and two refills of water adds sometime to our bedtime routine, I try to be patient and as gentle as possible before I tuck them in.  Of course that doesn't happen everyday, there has been plenty of tearful bedtimes, but I do try to actively practice patience when I can.

4. Discipline.  Probably not something one would expect to see on a love list but I firmly believe that a parent who lacks the ability to throw down the hammer is adversely affecting her child's ability to act in a socially appropriate way.  With three boys things can get crazy.  If I'm distracted with the little guy, the older boys often take advantage and flip the switch to destructo-boys, complete with hulk smashing our entire basement!!  They know better because I've offered a quick timeout and supervised clean up. It still happens (wouldn't it be amazing if I only had to remind them once), but we're learning.  I wasn't very good at discipline in the beginning.  Timeouts seemed tough and rigid.  But with time I've gotten better- honing my TO strategy so it's just enough to get their attention but not enough to hurt their feelings (Great tips in this book from TriBeCa Peds).  We have our moments at home, but for the most part my boys know what appropriate behavior is and how to act.

5. Random Acts- flowers and chocolates are great "go to's" for birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine's Day.  This year my husband started a tradition- him and the three boys go out and pick up some goodies and flowers for mom (side note, the baby was sleeping and my two year old was throwing a sleep-deprived tantrum so it actually ended up just being dad and 4yo...roll with it!).  I love that my boys see their father showing love and doing special things for me.  I hope it will demonstrate how they should treat their partners and expect to be treated by those who love them.  I was happy to indulge in the Valentine's Day love!!  But throughout the year, I like to do random acts of love for my boys.  Whether it's taking the time to tell my husband how much I appreciate what he does for our family or picking up a little toy for my boys while running errands- I think these acts demonstrate an everyday love.  And I enjoy these random acts too!  Whether it's my husband coming home with flowers "just because" or my boys hand picking a bouquet while out on a "nature walk" (I think I may owe my neighbors and their gardens an apology!), it's nice to know that they are thinking of me and want to show and share their love throughout the year!  Ok, but let's be real, sometimes you just don't have time for flower picking! If you are a busy family like us, check out BloomNation- they are a flower delivery company that supports local florists through their online marketplace!  Pretty neat!

6.  Show Me the Love!  Perhaps my favorite form of showing love is cutting myself some slack and carving out ALONE time for ME!  You know I am a skincare passionista- spas and babies don't mix! But when I get a chance for some alone time, I allow myself to be pampered with a facial, a massage, a mani, a pedi, or ALL OF THE ABOVE!  It's tough work being a parent and sometimes we forget to give ourselves the downtime we not only deserve, but NEED.  Taking care of myself demonstrates to my children the need to respect your own limitations and to be ok with taking a step back and taking a well-deserved break.  And sometimes I like to buy my own flowers..."just because" :)

How do you show love everyday?  Any cute stories or ideas to share?

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