In the first of this two-part interview, award-winning author Julie Lavendar sits down with Inspiration.org’s Rhonda Robinson to talk about her new book 365 Ways to Love Your Child.
Rhonda Robinson: I love your title 365 Ways to Love Your Child. When I first read the title I thought it was a devotional, but it’s not a devotional, is it?
Julie Lavendar: No, it’s not, it’s just a little short, blurbs, two or three sentences for each of the 365 ways to show love to a child. And they’re very simple. Most of them don’t cost. And a lot of them are things we do all the time.
Some of them are things we used to do and forgot, and some of them are brand new ideas just to be intentional with making memories with our children.
RR: It really does take being intentional, doesn’t it?
Julie: It does. We can get so busy as moms and dads and let a whole day go by without being intentional. And we’re taking care of their needs. And we’re doing the best we can and we may be busy, and we’re doing lots of things for them. But sometimes I would look back at the end of the day and think, I feel like my children knew I loved them.
And I took care of all their needs and fed them and taught them, I was a homeschooling mom, but then I think did we do anything fun today? And so I just tried to be more intentional, to do something that I thought would be memorable for the kids.
RR: So you said Did we do something fun today? So when you talk about loving them? Are you talking about playing with them?
Julie: Play is a lot of it, you know, to deliberately sit down and play with them and have a conversation with them. I used to laugh my oldest was very creative. And when we played he would start a game. But I didn’t really have to think when I played with him, I could be planning my grocery list in my head because my son would say something really creative that his little guy did, his little dinosaur, or his lizard. And then he’d say, “and now mommy you say, and now mommy you say.” He had the dialogue. I didn’t have to think when I played with him. But with the other kids I did. I wanted to just sit and make sure I got into their imagination.
But it’s not just playing. And one of the houses we lived in, we lived in base housing because my husband was in the military. In one of the houses that we lived in, we had a little bit of a walk to the mailbox, not really far walk. But sometimes my kids would be playing in the yard and I would realize, okay, I’m going to make this an adventure.
Well, one day, I would get them to hop with me to the mailbox, and the next day, we might skip to the mailbox. The next day, we would walk backwards, and that would let them pick a way to go to the mailbox. Just something to involve them. Because they might be hoping for a letter from a deployed Daddy, although he didn’t deploy a whole lot. Maybe from a grandparent. Most of the time it was junk mail, but I still let them open it but just to to be intentional with silly little things like that.
Throwing rocks in a puddle, having stick races in a stream in the backyard. It’s not just playing. It’s just little creative ways to have fun with the kids.
RR: Free play learning and vital to a child’s brain development and their critical thinking skills not to mention their imagination.
Julie: Right. One time, we were visiting my mom and we were outside playing a couple of children were on the swing set. Somebody was playing in the dirt with one of their little cars or trucks. But another one, maybe they were getting bored. Or maybe I just wanted to come up with something, but my mom’s dog (she lived out in the country) could just run free. And he came over to near where we were. And I said, “Hey, guys, I think Me-Ma’s dog must be a secret agent! Because he keeps doing this and watch what he’s doing.”
So for the next 30 minutes, we followed the dog and I let each one create. Okay, what is he doing now? Or who is he looking for? What’s going on? Or what’s his task. They had the most fun. And it was a spur of the moment thing. It wasn’t planned— completely unstructured. And everybody contributed their own little silly, imaginary story about the dog. We had the best time and they remember that to this day.
RR: I’m sure it seems to be the smallest things that they remember. We think it will be great big things the big.
Julie: I totally agree with you. I included in the intro of the book, that the big things are wonderful, too. And yes, those are very good. But I said it doesn’t have to be monumental to be momentous.
We took the kids to a theme park. I don’t remember which one. And when we were coming back, I asked the kids, “Okay, what was your favorite part of this vacation?” And one of them immediately spoke up and said, “Jumping from bed to bed!”
Oh, you know, we probably spent way more money than we should have. And we didn’t get to do those kind of vacations too often. I’m the kind of mommy that lets them jump on the bed at home. However, they only had just one bed to jump on. This to them was so much fun. They jumped from one bed to the other. They pretended it was hot lava underneath, they couldn’t fall between the two beds. And my husband and I just stood on either side of them to make sure nobody got hurt. And we joined in on the play.
You know, we just let them use their imaginations and watch them jump from bed to bed. And that’s what they remembered about that vacation. That’s it. That was the funnest part of the whole vacation. And they still enjoy the part. Making memories as a family.
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