Bookending The Days: Making The Most Of The Daily Transitions To Connect And Communicate Love

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Bookending The Days: Making The Most Of The Daily Transitions to Connect And Communicate LoveAs the days grow a lot cooler and shorter, I have found myself a bit reflective of what our days hold and feel like. While it’s not really the first and last moments of the day that are the most important, it can sometimes feel like they are. I think we can all consider what feels like the best way to start our days, and when that happens, it really does feel like a gift and can kind of set the tone for the day. Similarly with the close of the day, it can feel comforting to lean in to preparing to sleep with some kind of comforting close to the day.

There’s just something significant about the start up, the lead in, the beginning, etc. of our day.

Marriage researchers John and Julie Gottman teach about “softening the start up.” Sometimes we need to talk through a hard thing with our spouse or partner, but when we lead with that the minute he or she walks in the door, it pretty much never goes well.

In the same way, there’s something powerful about the end note, the lingering feelings and words that we remember and hold onto.

Consider the mornings

These dynamics while powerful for ourselves, are also at play with parenting, so take a minute to consider your morning routine with kids. How can you give a few minutes of presence in the midst of perhaps a flurry of activity preparing to get out the door? Maybe it’s a genuine “good morning” with a smile, letting your child know that you truly are glad to see him or her. Maybe you show love and care by making or serving breakfast. Maybe it’s in the hug or prayer before your child leaves for school.

For some parents of little people or homeschooling parents who are not saying goodbye for the morning or day, it might feel not quite as significant because you are already spending so much time with your child, yet there’s still something to a few minutes of intentional connection.

The reuniting

The same is true for any kind of reuniting that happens when a child returns from school, a play date, or any activity or a parent returns from work or other time away. We give a gift to our kids when we are genuinely glad to see them. This lens helps me when I am apart from my children. As someone who very much values quality time with my people, I can carry this extra burden of not feeling present enough when I am having to take care of other responsibilities. This can particularly show up for working parents who are constantly feeling stretched between providing for their children and spending time with them.

The reality is that we can care for our kids so much, enjoy their presence (mostly!), and yet need to work or tend to other responsibilities. Sometimes it’s not about the amount of time spent together, but increasing the quality in the time we have to connect and communicate care and love.

Consider the evenings

The same dynamic holds true for the closing of the day. Kind of like a pair of bookends, the beginning and ending of days hold significance. Sometimes at the end of the day it may be hardest for us to give time to our kids as we are tired ourselves, yet even a little bit of connection can go a long way in sending your child to sleep with some grounded sense of well-being (even the big kids!). It can feel overwhelming to give more when we are so worn out, but connection can happen in a minute when it is genuine and intentional. This may look like reading your child a story, tucking them in, a hug, and saying goodnight. What does a few minutes of intentional presence at the close of the day look like for you?

Getting creative

If you have work hours or other commitments that take you away during the mornings and/or nights, remember that there are many ways to show care outside of these particular daily transitions. We can get all kinds of creative around greeting our kids and communicating love and care. One friend of mine uses a dry erase board as a kind of after school check-in. Simply by leaving her child a note asking about their day, she is sending a message. None of us can be perfectly present 100% of the time, but we can work to cultivate more of a presence.

In closing

While the days can feel long at times, we can elevate the way that the days feel for us and our children when we are intentional. It’s really not about the first and the last moments being more important than the others, but it’s simply recognizing that sometimes they stick with us more in terms of how we feel. In that there’s kind of an invitation to be intentional and affirming in letting your child know of your love and care. 

How can you make your bookends count? How can you make your transitions in the morning, day or evening, your moments of connection? 

As we press into the holidays, consider simple and fun things going on in the area. Our family loves driving around and looking at Christmas lights with a cup of hot cocoa and Christmas music on the radio. Bonus: the kids are already in pajamas! Be sure to check out this post about local Christmas lights!

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