In today’s society of social media, it is extremely important to keep your family foundation strong. There are so many distractions to keep families disconnected. Parents should always want their children to run to them when life seems too hard. So keeping family time on your schedule is important but also having family meetings and time for each child is also important. These things will enhance the communication not only as a family unit but also between parent and each child. Then add being a single parent to the mixture and trying to divide your time among your children can be another challenge. Finally add on having a child who is a sickle cell warrior, it gets even more complicated. However, complicated does not mean impossible!
Family meetings need to be weekly and should be a zone of expression without consequence. No matter what the child expresses, as long as the respect is there, no punishment should be given. The way they are feeling is just that! In my house, I make sure every child is treated equally. Everyone has chores and everyone is expected to make sure their chores are done before they indulge in entertaining themselves.
Our family meetings happen once a week and the environment is made as comfortable as possible. If the budget permits we will even go out and have our meeting over dinner or over ice cream or hot chocolate. If we meet at home, I will make a big breakfast or a special lunch with cupcakes or cookies for desert. If the other parent can be involved fine but if not then it will just be me and the girls. I reiterate to the girls that this is an anger free zone and no one will be punished for speaking their mind but it has to be in a respectful manner. Next, I make an agenda of topics to discuss; chores, team work, event calendar, school issues/progress/accomplishments, scheduling, family issues, forgiveness, solutions, and family prayer circle. Each girl is asked to write down what she wants to discuss before the meeting. During our meetings we go over the agenda. Each child can bring up any issue they are having within the family during the family issues segment. The most important part is for whomever to take responsibility and apologize and the recipient of the apology to accept. We end our meeting with prayer and everyone says a special prayer for each person.
Spending time with each child takes some creative planning. My 8 year old has gymnastics on Saturday so I take that day to spend with her after her class. She and I may go have lunch or do some shopping or go to a book store because she likes books. My 13 year old loves to cook so daily we plan what we will cook and we cook together and talk about anything she wants to discuss. We also grocery shop together, go to the movies and get pedicures twice a month together. For my warrior, who likes to snuggle, she will often sleep with me or come and watch a movie when others are busy doing things alone. Since I pick my warrior up from aftercare first, I take an hour to spend with her alone and just talk. We may go to the store or take a walk around the school. I spend so much time with her alone while she is sick, I make sure to spend some time with her when she is healthy.
All in all I try to at least get some time with each child alone as many times during the week as I can. Every moment is not planned but when opportunities present themselves, I take advantage of them. My desire is to be close to them so that they will always know each one of them is special to me.