It's easy to allow yourself to get lost in the day to day chaos of life. We get lost in the consistent feeding, bathing, and clothing our children as well as doing laundry, dishes, changing diapers, etc. We get caught up in the robotic life of caring for the physical needs of our children, while nurturing our children becomes lost in all the daily necessities of living. While these are certainly important aspects of mothering and nurturing, they are the bare minimum. Mothering is so much more than that.
While there are many activities we could do to help nurture our children, I'd like to share with you a handful of them that are easy enough to do just about every day.
I want to share 5 ways to help nurture your children’s minds and spirits.
1. Read quality books aloud.
Reading quality books is nurturing for the mind and for your relationship with your child. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child to sit with you to read. But being consistent helps with making it a habit. After getting over that initial “resistance hump”, reading time will be an enjoyed time with you and your children. Some great character building books include fables, Beatrix Potter stories, books by author Thornton Burgess, and of course Bible stories.
2. Conversations–and lots of them.
Children ask a lot of questions. Many times I tend to push them off as insignificant. But I need to remember, though I know much of how the world works (as compared with a child) , my children don’t. They are trying to understand the world they live in by asking questions. This gives me an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation. It is time well spent and much is learned. Children will value our opinions and direction more when we take the time to listen to them and answer their curiosities.
Additionally, as we take the time to answer their one thousand "why" questions when they are little, they are more apt to come to us when they are older and life isn't so simple anymore.
My teenage daughter (who is nearly 16) isn't afraid to come to me with questions about social issues, love & boys (well, one boy), friend struggles, etc. My 11-year old son shares some of the unacceptable, unidentifiable, or alarming behavior of other boys. He is curious about the world and people around him and is eager to learn about all of it.
Moms, can I just tell you that it's okay to tell your children when another child is behaving or acting in a way that is unacceptable? This isn't being hateful or judgmental, it's identifying a clear right and wrong for your child in the most tangible way possible. When my child hears another child swear, I make it clear that for my son, that is not okay and I explain why. I do not belittle or even dislike the boy doing the swearing. We are still to be loving toward those who have different values then us and I make sure to teach that to my children as well.
3. Share a hobby.
This might be difficult to narrow down at first, but don't give up! Do you and your children enjoy the library? Swimming? Dancing? Playing cards or doing a puzzle? Building Lego creations or drawing?
Help them foster their talents. If you don’t know much about what they do like, search it out and learn! Or better yet, have your child teach you. My eldest daughter has been in dance since she was 5 years old. I also have two other children in dance now. A few years ago, I started taking a dance class and each year we enjoy being a part of the recital together.
The point is to take the time to be interested in the things they are interested in, too.
4. Special 1-on-1 time.
In addition to spending small bursts of 1-on-1 time with each child everyday, every week, my husband or I take one child out to breakfast for their own special time. We let each child decide who they want to go with because it gives us a bit of insight to that child’s greatest need. As a matter of fact, this opened my eyes quite a bit to how much my children needed me, even though I’m home with them all day. A couple of my children needed me to go to breakfast with them. I thought for certain they would choose their daddy. This has allowed me to adjust our time spent at home, to better fill their “tank”.
This is especially challenging but necessary for moms with many children. It's too easy to think of and work with our children as a collective bunch because that's what's easiest. But it's not best to always do that. Our children need to be seen and recognized as individual persons rather then a collective of children.
5. Speak grace.
This may be one of the most crucial aspects of nurturing a child. Our words and our tone have such an impact on our children, you could not even imagine. Not only do they learn from us how to speak to others [by how we speak to them], but they learn our very hearts through our tone and words. Are we speaking in frustration? Anger? Annoyance? They know. Speaking words of grace is the best, and I mean the best way to diffuse anger and create an environment of peace.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
I cannot even begin to tell you how true those words are. And it helps to get to the root of our frustrations, and deal with them.
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13
And it isn’t just our face it makes cheerful, but the face of our children. It isn’t just our spirits that would be crushed, but our children‘s.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many ways to nurture our children, but they do all have one thing in common: our time.
Our children see what’s most valuable to us by how we spend our time.
What are some ways you nurture your children?
For His Glory,