It is truly remarkable how easy it is to slip into a household of negativity around here. Add in a four-day Thanksgiving break and lots of family togetherness and our home was beginning to implode with pessimism, complaining, whiny responses, and a cloud of negative thoughts and attitudes. Our home life started to feel toxic. Something had to give.
My husband and I talked it through and decided on a plan yesterday morning. We needed to get back to routines, back to a schedule. With a family of seven, there is no other way. We have to organize our time or else too many people are going in too many directions and someone gets lost in the mix. Bedtimes suffer, sleep suffers, and then we are a total mess. Schedules are like the skeletal frame of the day. From there we build on the fleshy, meaty parts, but the skeleton has to be in place in order for the family body to function well. We were going to have to get back to more schedules and better structure.
After school, the kids came home and I brought out our wipe board with the afternoon schedule. The routine was one we had established back at the start of school, but had somehow lost in the few months following. I prepared myself for backlash, but rather than hearing whining, I saw relief. Mom was in charge, they didn’t have to fight for control, and my expectations were clear. Our afternoon played out beautifully and our interactions were for the most part harmonious. More than anything, I felt better and more on top of things, which started to turn the tide of my negativity. Part one, check!
Part two involved an old family favorite–the warm fuzzy jar. It’s a simple little device made up of an old mason jar, a few stickers, and a slew of fuzzy pom poms. It’s effect, though, is always monumental. It takes all the pessimism and turns it around to the positive. Here’s how it works: I look for acts of kindness, goodness, charity among my children. For every good little thing, they earn a pom pom in the jar and a full jar means a reward for the family. The kids can also let me know if they see a sibling showing kindness (but we discourage boasting of personal triumphs). It really is so simple, but in one evening, I can vouch for its effectiveness. I saw whining turned toward encouragement. The complaining quieted. Hugs and tenderness were felt. Our home tipped back on the scales toward realness and not so heavily weighted toward negativity. We were all happier, especially Mom! Part two, check!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8
God bless as we press on toward Advent!