Are your kids excited to come home after school? Does your husband race home after work? Do you enjoy spending time at home? These are questions I asked myself a few years ago while walking through a tough time in my life. When things outside of my house seemed to be spiraling out of control, I wanted to make sure my home was a place of refuge. Somewhere my kids and husband could unwind and relax. A place to take shelter from the demands of the world around them. An oasis that they looked forward to enjoying every day. So I went on a mission to create an atmosphere in my home that was a haven for my family. Here is what I found.
Creating a Refuge for Your Kids
I think we can all agree that most kids want to feel safe and loved. So it only makes sense that we create a home that does just that.
And while we all likely have a safe home in the physical sense (locks on doors, baby gates on stairs, chemicals out of reach, etc.), I think we often forget to be intentional about creating a safe home in the emotional sense. Does your child feel comfortable sharing their feelings and emotions? Do they feel safe enough to confess when they did something wrong? I never want my children to be too scared to share something with me, so here are a few things I’ve implemented to help my children feel safe emotionally.
- Carve out time to talk with your child. Let them share whatever is on their mind or ask them questions about their day/week.
- Lead by example by showing your kids how to be honest and how to express their feelings. Sometimes it’s better to share first or discuss your observations before asking questions.
- Really listen. Show interest in what they are saying and do not interrupt.
- Give your child freedom to ask questions about what they don’t understand. There is no such thing as a bad question.
- Guard your reaction and never jump to immediate conclusions. If your child shares something hard or confesses something they did wrong, make sure to tell them you appreciate their honesty. And always take a deep breath before you respond.
- Do not yell, threaten, or criticize.
So now that our children (hopefully) feel safe, how about feeling loved. How do we create an environment where our children know they are loved? While I think this will vary per child (5 love languages anyone?), here are some ideas that I think are great for any family to implement:
- Eat dinner as a family. Turn the TV off, put the phones away, and try your best to enjoy a family meal as often as possible.
- Create a daily routine and try your best to stick to it. Kids like predictability and want to know what to expect when they come home every day.
- Set aside an evening (or even a whole day) for family time. Brainstorm what you want to do that day and just enjoy each others company. And remember to let the kids have input, so they know their ideas are important too.
- Spend 1 on 1 time with your kids and learn about their interests.
- Give your kids a space to decompress. Some of us need alone time to recharge our batteries (hello introvert). Kids are no different, so make sure they have an opportunity to find time alone if needed.
The world has changed a lot over the years. Our kids are feeling more pressure socially and academically. Consequently, it’s important for them to have a place that they can retreat to and find refuge from the stresses of the world outside. A place where they are free to be themselves, to express their emotions, and let down their guards. My hope is that our homes will be a haven where our kids can find safety and love.
Keep Reading for the second post in this two-part series, Creating a Refuge for You and Your Husband.