I remember one day shortly after Clara potty-trained, looking at my five kids and thinking “Holy cow – we’re a family.”
For so long I’d thought of my kids more as individual people to be cared for, one after another: first helpless babies, then busy, daring toddlers, and so on; a collection of small people who needed to be nurtured and kept from hot stoves and figurative snake pits.
But with the chaos of infancy and toddlerhood finally behind us – for good this time – I could see that we are so much more than that. Our family is a unit, made up of many individual and group relationships, an original culture, a unique story made up of our own values and goals and mythology.
Without having to worry about round-the-clock nursing or endless diaper changes, I suddenly felt able to shift my focus to the bigger picture: what sort of family I wanted us to be. I have to admit, after all those years of baby-rearing, it was a pretty revolutionary thought. Not to mention overwhelming.
Can you identify with that feeling? Maybe you have been wanting to create more intention around your family life, but haven’t quite known where to start. Maybe you’re becoming suddenly aware that, while you’ve been immersed in baby-rearing, your older child or children continue to get…older. Maybe you’re becoming more acutely aware of the passage of time and want to make the most of it but just aren’t sure where to start.
If so, you’ll like today’s challenge: I want you to take at least five minutes to think about the kind of Beyond Baby family life you want to create.
Do you want to travel together? Become more involved in your church or community service? Would you like to be a musical family, a literary family, a science-loving family? How do you want to spend your evenings: gathered at home, at sporting events, out in nature? Of course you can’t necessarily dictate what everyone else is going to want to do and you don’t want to be too rigid about what “sorts” of activities you’re going to spend all your time doing, but we parents have a real opportunity to set the tone for the way our families spend our collective time. It’s just more satisfying to do it with intention.
There are a lot of ways to go about this and of course, creating a satisfying, intentional family life is something that happens over weeks, months, and years, not in a single day. But I’ve collected some ideas and resources below that might help you get started.
Choose one, read it, and think about how you might apply it to your own family life:
- Happy Families Have Stories - research shows that a “family mythology” leads to more positive childhood memories and a stronger sense of family connection. Here’s why a family narrative is so important – and how to build your own.
- How I Learned To Love Cooking Dinner – don’t let the title fool you; this post really isn’t just about food. It’s about how I decided to make regular dinners the backbone of our family life, and what I had to do – and give up – to make them a priority.
- Create A Family Manifesto – This will always be one of my favorite articles at Alpha Mom. Such a cool idea, and a fun, easy family project.
- Celebrate Siblings: Simple Ways To Nurture Your Kids’ Relationships With Each Other – Guest writer Tricia Mirchandani wrote this awesome guest post about helping foster closer sibling relationships.
I’d love to hear which post you read and what resonated with you. Has it inspired you to start being more intentional about your own Beyond Baby family life? Share here in the comments or discuss at the Beyond Baby Facebook Group!