4 resolutions

Today I am so excited to be re-introducing you to my dear friend Edie from Life in Grace. Those of you who have been around for a while might remember her from the 31 Days of Less & More series that we co-hosted in October. Edie and I became friends about three years ago, just a few weeks after her family lost everything in a devastating house fire, and over the years she has taught me much about grace, friendship, and hospitality. In fact, her post just a few days ago, Finding God’s Will For Your Life, completely rocked my world (in a good way.)  Seriously, go read it right now. It will change you. She has guest posted here on LWSL once before, and that post, 5 Tips for Raising Kids You Like, has profoundly affected the way I have parented my own girls. She is a gem!

Welcome Edie! 

I may have an unhealthy obsession with the New Year. Fresh starts are like cool, mountain air to me. Maybe it has something to do with my January birthday or my tendency to want to hunker down, but January is one of my favorite months. I read a lot of books, make a lot of soups, and cozy up together on the sofa at night with my peeps and my brand new journal to write goals and plans in a fit of terrific passion and inspiration.

This year was a little different for me. I talk a lot about serving others at my blog—so much so that I wrote a little eBook on the Heart of Hospitality—a little primer on serving the people in your life. I think we’re often plagued with the haunting question of WHAT IS MY LIFE’S PURPOSE, that we forget the important work we already do everyday for the people we love. We are already serving our neighbor in so many important ways—especially the “neighbors” who live in our house. The little phrase, “Just do the next thing your neighbor needs,” kept swirling in my head.

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Don’t worry, I still made THE LIST. You know the one—that says run a half marathon, make a quilt, write a book, get a book deal, make homemade donuts, etc. I’m not the queen of resolutions for nothing. But, it hasn’t been the most pressing thing on my heart. I really want to serve my neighbor in better more meaningful ways and it reminded me how often our (my) resolutions are pretty self-centered. So, I made a new list that read something like this—listen better to my children, show kindness when it’s hard, laugh more with my family, inspire don’t demand—all things my children and family need more from me.

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1. Listen With Intention

Why is this so important? Consider this conversation that my husband Stevie and I have about once a year.

Me: You don’t listen to me.

Him: (silence)

Me: Did you hear me?

Him: Yes, what did you say? (looks at me over top his readers)

Me: I said, You don’t listen to me when I talk to you.

Him: Yes, I do. Give me example.

Me: Everything I’ve tried to say to you in the last two weeks. That’s your example.

Him: I’m sorry. I’m such a jerk sometimes. I’ll do better. Will you forgive me?

Me: Yes.

AND THEN?????? I promptly don’t listen to half of what my own children say to me. I am SO the pot calling the kettle black. And here’s the kicker. When you don’t really listen to the people in you life, it’s such a slap in the face. It says to them that they aren’t important to you. I don’t want to send that message to my children. And you know what else? Contrary to what you think, they don’t tell you everything. But, what they tell you is a clue to what’s important to them, to what’s going on in their life. They casually mention that someone wasn’t nice to them in math? There may be way more to the story than that, but if you’re half listening, you won’t know to probe farther. Also? Look in their eyes when they talk to you. You’ll get so much more of what they’re really trying to tell you than if you’re just half halfheartedly listening while you type on the computer. (Ahem. Not that anyone in this room, writing this blog post ever does that)

2. Laugh More

Life is hard and serious. Bills, sickness, death, the seeming drudgery of ordinary life. It’s tough stuff. My life might look rosy from the outside, but there’s so much you don’t see. And the same is true for you. We all have suffering and heartache and loss. When we lost our house three years ago, I wondered if I’d ever laugh again. Until three days later, when my sister tried to stop me from buying a dutch oven by saying in a very hesitant voice, “Ummmm, you don’t have a stove.” That was funny. I bought the dutch oven anyways, and we laughed for weeks at the fact that all I currently owned in this world was cowboy boots, a computer, and a dutch oven. (I may not be homesteader material and that’s a fact.)

My point is—find ways to laugh more. It’s so good for your body, soul, and spirit. Buy a karaoke machine and sing Stand By Your Man at the top of your lungs. That’s funny, my friends.

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Or, turn on some music and have a dance party with the kids. At my house, with my dancing skills? That’s really funny. Watch a comedy or just sit for a long time and try NOT to laugh. Or make some party favors and take some funny pictures. It’s amazing what a few funny props will do for morale!

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Your kids need to see you laugh and enjoy life. Stop being so serious all the time. (I’m talking to myself!)

3. Be Kind

My girls take piano from the kindest woman I have ever met. The way she speaks to my children and treats shocks me every time. It so inspires me that I can guarantee you that I’m nicer to my kids when we leave piano. It’s almost otherworldly. She’s like an angel. Have you ever had the privilege of knowing someone like that? Our ears are mostly used to hearing people yelling at their kids and speaking harshly to them. It’s such a breath of fresh air to meet someone who is genuinely kind. I’m making it my goal to be that sort of person this year. Could you be kinder to your family than you currently are?

4. Inspire, Don’t Demand

Teaching kids to work hard is part of your job as a parent. It’s important. No one likes to be around lazy, entitled adults, so let’s not raise any more of them. I want my kids to grow up to be gracious, kind, loving, and hard working. But, when you’re teaching them work ethic and responsibility, there’s a way to do it that inspires them. And when they’re inspired, they do way better work, for way longer than if your only means of getting them to do something is just to demand it from them. Then, when they’re older, they’ll (hopefully) be the type of people who are self-motivated and self-disciplined—because they’ve seen that example in you.

We’ve been doing lots of cleaning and reorganizing the past few days. Yesterday, we cleaned out the fridge AND cleaned out the Christmas storage attic (otherwise known as the coldest place in North America.) So. We made it a contest. We set a timer for an hour. My children, Nick and Elea tackled the fridge and Emme and I put on our parkas and tackled the frozen tundra. At one point, Elea came to find me, with a distressed look in her eyes and said, “Mom, I dying. It scares me and everything is sticky.” Out of the mouth of babes. We somehow survived our jobs and now our house is cleaner and my kids are wiser for it. Find ways to make them work hard without them knowing there working so hard.

Parenting is the most important job we do. I think it warrants a top spot on our list of goals!

Happy New Year!

4 Resolutions Every Mom Should Make

Edie is a writer and  lifestyle blogger sharing her grace story at her website: life{in}grace.  edieheadshotShe is passionate about lifelong learning, enjoys reading and writing about a variety of topics that include: faith, homemaking, parenting, cooking and interior design. She loves her quirky life of raising chickens, having a small garden and a brood of children. She is a devoted cook and foodie who looks for the divine among the mundane and cherishes the scared grace moments that spring up through the stony ground of  everyday living.

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What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Ruth Soukup

Ruth Soukup - LIVING WELL SPENDING LESS. Practical solutions for everyday overwhelm. Food Made Simple, Life Etc., Home 101, Smart Money. Start organizing your whole life today!