365 Ways to Love Your Child: Part 2

Rhonda RobinsonBy Rhonda Robinson12 Minutes

Rhonda Robinson: It really is all about making memories with your children isn’t it?

Julie Lavendar: Yes, I did a little bit of research about memories and making memories with kids. Or just as a family. Each of us is an individual in the family— like fingerprints. If you put the whole family together, that’s kind of like a hand. And joined together, we make that one unit.

So that gives a family a unique handprint that belongs to just that one family, in a world full of hands. And when you make those memories, and then talk about them later, share them with each other, whether you laugh about them, some of them might bring tears, but it just brings a sense of purpose.

Because that child grows up thinking I was a part of that memory, I was a part of that family. In some of the ways in the book, are how to turn chores into fun memory-making experiences.

Well, these kids feel that sense of purpose in they are part of that family, they have to take part in helping put the dishes on the table for the meal, help bring their clothes to the laundry room, those sorts of things.

And it gives them a purpose in that family. They know they’re loved and belong to that family, and then they can go out into the world and find their purpose in the world as well.
RR: I really like that. You talked about retelling a story. That’s one of the things that has really been a glue in our own family is the retelling of childhood stories. Have you found this to be true in yours?

Julie: Yes. My youngest is the one that was had the least military experiences if you will. Because she was four when my husband had put in 20 years. So that’s why I moved back home. Well, we’ll often talk about the things that we did. And she can tell about the things that she did when she was two or three or four. But she remembers it from our stories as well as the photo album, we’ll pull out the photo album, and say, you know, when you were two years old, we went to Lego Land in California, and your brother built this big dinosaur. She can retell those stories as if she were there. But she really wasn’t. But in her mind, those are seared into her memory. And she knows she was there. Even though she doesn’t remember it. She knows she was part of the family and they’re just seared in her memory forever.

RR: I can see how that really creates a family identity. And I think today in this world where we’re so pulled apart and there are so many labels wanting to be slapped on children. And to put in categories that it’s very important to have a family identity.

Julie: Right we almost have it’s almost like a shared common language. We have our own language. You know, my children love to quote movies, a line from a movie or so. And whether it’s a Disney movie or just a good clean family movie, and I’ve often joked, because I have four kids, and they love it so much that I think they could carry on a conversation all day long, using nothing but a line from some movie.

And that’s just fun to them, you know, something can happen now, my 22-year-old and I will spout off a line from a chick flick.

Now, we have at least added chick flicks in there too, now that they’re older, and can spout off a line from that, that nobody else around us gets the connection. And even if they’ve seen the movie, they might not get the connection. And we will know the humor, and we’ll just laugh and it’s just a fun memory.

And it’s not only just that situation, but it’s reminding us of all those nights, we sat up when she was in college sitting there doing her homework, while we had a chick flick on or something like that. It’s just a shared common language among the family when you make all those memories.

I have one son in love. And my two boys aren’t married. And then my youngest has a boyfriend. Because she was having this conversation with her siblings about a particular movie. I don’t remember if it was a Disney or whatever, and she told him, she said, “You have to watch this.” And some of it was even chick-flicks that they have all watched.

She forced him to do this. I think they were both in their senior year of college. But she forced him to watch this because she wanted him to be able to have that language. She wanted him to be able to relate to that one phrase that she said, there’s one we watch where all he says is, “See, I knew you weren’t listening.” I think Tom Hanks is in that movie. And so she says that to him a lot of times, and she wants him to know this is a joke. She’s not being unkind to him. This is supposed to be funny. So she wanted him to watch this movie with her.

RR: So what would you say to the mom, who is just trying to make it through the day? She’s got 20 loads of laundry, half of them are on the floor, and half of them are folded up. And she’s just trying to keep everybody fed and clean,  maybe even homeschooling? What would you say to her about being intentional?

Julie: I told a friend the other day when I told her I was telling her about my book. I said, “You know, there are 365 ways just because a lot of times when we write books, we think that’s so cute to have one a day, but I never really intended when I wrote it, for somebody to feel like they have to do one of these things every day.”

My intention was, my hope is, that they are very easy to read. If you’re waiting outside of the dance studio to pick up your daughter, you can just read three or four or five examples. And whether or not though you actually do one of those things that day, or that just gives you an idea for something unique to your own family. I hope it will spur some ideas.

I hope this book can last longer than a full year, none of us have time. I guess we should and we should try. But I don’t feel like any of us have time to do something like this every single day, I think it will be too hard. Although like I said, so many of them are so simple.

You go into the mailbox, jumping one day and hopping another, that we could squeeze in. I don’t want my book to make anybody feel that way. I mentioned in the back of the book it’s for those times when we feel like it’s all we can do to breathe, keep them dressed and feed them that day.

We’ve got to give ourselves grace, the world puts too much pressure on us anyway, I would never want my book to add to that. I hope it just gives ideas. And I think we need to give ourselves grace. I do think we have to give ourselves grace because we should never want to make a mom or dad feel like, oh my goodness, I’ve got one more thing to try to do today.

There are days where it felt like all I could do was change diapers and feed kids but, that might be also the day that if I had a whole lot of dishes to do, I would pull up a chair let the children stand right next to me and the girls love to play in bubbles in the sink. So I would be washing dishes on one side. And I would deliberately get them in the kitchen with me and let them play with their little doll or plastic toys in the seat next to me.

We would talk and I would listen to their imaginary play. I might add in some thoughts and some conversation. They remember. I don’t think they remembered Gee, my mom was so busy doing dishes she didn’t have time for me. I think they remembered standing next to me playing in the bubbles while I washed the dishes.

So I think we can still be intentional. I don’t think we should beat ourselves up if we have a really busy day.

Buy your copy of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories by Julie Lavendar