I keep notes on my phone. I know that sounds weird, but my digital notepad is quite diverse- things I can’t forget at the grocery, to things that are on my mind.
One of my ongoing notes to myself is a list of things I try to say and tend to say on a regular basis, in addition to engaging questions that don’t pose one-word answers. I do this because I’m trying to be more conscious of my word choice with my boys and set a foundation for effective communication.
Here’s a taste of my list- what would you add?
1. What song would you like to hear on your way to school? And yes, I’ll make it loud.
Because every day should start with a dance party.
2. Have a beautiful day.
I don’t like the word “good.” It’s mundane. I want their day to be beautiful.
3. Did you drink your water? Here’s another glass.
If only I made myself hydrate as much as I made them.
4. What were three favorite parts of your school day?
I never ask How was your day? That’s because the answer is usually “good,” and there goes the conversation. Instead, I encourage my kids to pinpoint three things they did in school so I’m aware of what made them happy throughout the day.
5. Who did you sit with at lunch?
I do this for a few reasons. First, I like to know who my kids are befriending. Next, I want to make sure they didn’t “eat alone.” It’s a fear of any parent- worrying their kid is excluded.
6. What did you play during recess?
Swings? Sandbox? Role-playing superheroes? It’s an engaging question to ask young kids- and I love hearing about the creative games they play with their buddies.
7. Be kind to your brothers. Their the best friends you’ll ever have.
“Kindness” is one of my favorite words. It’s much better than “nice.” When the boys get rowdy with one another, I try to positively remind them they are brothers and friends. (And the best ones they’ll have forever.)
8. Look me in the eye when we speak.
This is a biggy. Drives me crazy when their eyes wander especially during serious convos. Eye contact is a learned skill, and I’m adamant my boys perfect it.
9. Don’t get pee on the toilet.
I have three boys. Enough said.
10. Wash your hands. Now wash your hands again, longer, and with more soap.
Yes, I make them count to 30 while scrubbing their hands with soap. Blame it on my OCD.
11. Please put your Legos/trains/etc away before taking out a new toy. And put them away correctly; do things right the first time.
In our house, every toy has a place. They gotta learn to put things away correctly.
12. Use your words.
…no hitting, kicking, or biting. Duh.
13. I don’t like the word “sorry.” Go make it right.
Do you feel me on this? The word “sorry” can be a copout. Many kids are trained to say it and overuse it, making “sorry” lack purpose. Instead, I encourage my kids to make it right- acknowledge and understand what they did- hug it out, etc.
14. You can tell me anything. I trust you; you can trust me.
I want my sons to know their words are safe with me always. I value their trust in me and want them to know I trust them as well.
15. You’re so handsome.
As a boy mom, I want to instill in them the importance of feeling good about themselves. We often shower our girls with “you’re so pretty,” and I think it’s equally important to make our boys feel the same.
16. I love it when you… (help me in the kitchen, clean up without me asking, etc).
I applaud behavior that makes me happy, and I try to vocalize it as much as I can.
17. Try to touch the ball… and have fun!
Can you guess what this one’s about?? If you thought sports… bingo. My three boys are all different- one likes to pick flowers on the soccer field while the other is immersed in the game. Regardless, I want them to at least TRY and touch the ball, but most of all, to enjoy extracurricular activities.
18. Even parents can get frustrated, hurt and sad.
I lose it. A lot. And I hate myself every time I scream or get mad. But truth is, I can’t help it. I’m human. And my kids need to understand that.
19. There are two kinds of tears- happy tears and sad tears. You make me cry happy tears.
When my oldest won first place at his first swim team, I cried. The tears uncontrollably poured out of my soul. I wasn’t necessarily happy he won, per se, rather, that he got such a stroke of much needed confidence. I want the boys to know that sometimes the heart gets so full it overflows.
20. Stand your ground and use your strong voice.
The boys and I practice their “strong voice” quite often. I don’t want them to come across passive in challenging situations with friends, on the playground, etc. I want them to stand their ground and do so with confidence.
21. You are creative.
I aim to fuel their creativity. Dress up is a huge thing in our house.
22. I love spending special time with you.
Soooooo important. Life gets busy, but I really try to spend individual time with my kids when I can. This can be so simple as building a train town with my choo-choo obsessed middle son or taking my baby to the park while the olders are at school. They deserve my undivided attention once in a while, and I honestly want theirs, too.
23. I believe in you.
Probably the most important four words I tell my kids.
24. What books shall we read tonight?
I’m a book hoarder. While I’m exhausted and ready for me time nearly every night, I rarely surrender our reading ritual. It’s probably my most sacred time of the day.
25. Yes, I’ll kiss you 900 times.
Yes, I get this request every night. And yes, I know one day they’ll wipe my kisses. So for now, 900 works for me.
26. Yes, I’ll sing you an extra song to sleep.
They’re the only people in the world who like my singing voice, and our special songs are extremely dear to my heart.
27. Your hand is my favorite hand to hold.
It’s so weird holding my 2-year old’s hand, my 4-year old’s hand, and my 6-year old’s hand… because their hands are so different in size. Time goes by so fast… I’ll hold their little hands as much as I can.
28. I love you more than anything in the world.
It’s very, very true.
29. I am proud of you.
Everyone needs reassurance, and I’ll always be the one to give it to them.
30. You are my best boys.
Every night I say the same three things to my sons. I want it to be the last things they hear before they go to bed, and if I forget to tell them, they remind me:
I love you more than anything in the world.
I am proud of you.
And you are my best boys.