How to create the environment your kids want to come home to. By Adina Soclof
Everyone wants a happy home and as parents we have the ability and responsibility to create a home where children feel safe and loved. We want to foster a home environment where everyone feels respected and each person’s individuality is celebrated. We want our kids and spouses to want to come home at the end of their long days.
This does not have to be difficult. There are some simple changes that we can implement to help create that feeling of warmth and hominess.
1. Make coming home happy:
The best marriage advice that I got was this: Go to the door to greet your husband when he comes home. Save your complaints, stresses, problems and whining for later (or for never.)
When my kids were little, this was easy advice to follow. My husband would come home from work and our children would all stop what they were doing and come bounding to the door and throw themselves at my husband. The enthusiastic homecoming was enjoyed by all. The kids loved it, my husband loved it and I loved watching the scene unfold before me.
Although my kids are older and not so bouncy, I still try to maintain that sense of fun and happiness when my husband walks through the door. When I see his car pull up, I give a happy yell in the direction of my kids “Daddy’s home!” I stop what I am doing, walk to the door and give him a warm welcome. I try to avoid any heavy topics during that time, no talk of bills, Aunt Ethel’s upcoming visit or an untimely phone call from our children’s teachers.
I try to do this for each of my kids as well. Just a few minutes of time as your child walks in the door can make a world of difference. Many children need your undivided attention at the end of their day. School is like one long day of work for them. A hug, kiss, a snack and a listening ear, are simple and powerful way to let them know that they are valued, and loved.
It’s not the time to bring up serious issues or discipline your children. “Did you hand in that paper that was late?” You know you left your dirty laundry in your room, you need to go upstairs right now and take care of that!”
Parents might also try to get their children to talk about their day. Most children usually find their parents seemingly innocuous questions as intrusive:
“How was your day?” “Did you have fun?” “ Was Sara feeling better today?”
Instead it is better to just let them know that you are happy to see them, “I am so glad you are home!” Serious discussions, discipline and questions are best left for another time.
2. Give them transition time:
After greeting our spouses and kids happily we need to give them a bit of time to transition from work/school to home. Everyone needs a bit of time to unwind and switch gears. We want to make it as pleasant as possible.
I have one friend whose husband comes home from work and disappears into their bedroom for 5-10 minutes, (with his wife’s support and permission) just to catch his breath. He is then able to sit down to dinner with his family.
Children also need some time to unwind. Although there are some children who need to review their day in full with their parents, many children just need a bit of quiet. Oftentimes parents encourage their children to do their homework right when they get home and get it out of the way. Sometimes extracurricular activities are planned, last minute errands or chores need to be done. Many children do not have the focus, attention or ability for that type of fast turnaround.
It might be beneficial for children to wait until they have relaxed before they attempt to do their homework. Schedules can be planned with some wiggle room and jobs can wait a bit until there has been some down time.
I advise mothers, if they can, to take a few minutes before all their kids walk in from school to do something just for themselves, to enjoy and savor the last few minutes of quiet before the rush and stresses of the dinner and homework hour.
I have another friend who comes home from work after her husband and her children. She stops her car a few blocks from home, sits and listens to some music and eats a healthy snack. This gives her the time and the patience that she needs to greet her family after a long day at work.
3. Make relaxation a value in your home:
Our lives are so rushed and stressful and it is impacting on our health and well-being. Relaxation seems to be a forgotten need or a luxury. However, it should be a priority and it needs to be scheduled into everyone’s day. It is imperative that everyone in the family has some downtime.
It is helpful for parents to identify their child’s means of relaxation and then make sure that they are able to engage in that activity. Some common ways that kids relax are:
- arts and crafts
- playing an instrument
- outside play
- taking care of animals
- play sports
- hanging out with friends
- bouncing on a trampoline
- nature related activities
- taking care of their collections: rocks, bugs, stamps
It is the same with your spouse. Find out what they like to do to relax and make sure they are able to do it. Taking walks, crafts, cooking, reading are just a few examples.
The medical community has agreed that laughter is the best way to relieve stress and even more serious ailments. It is also the best way to connect with others. Families bond over a good laugh. It is a sure sign of a happy home.
Every healthy family has their share of inside jokes, where just a word or a look could get everyone giggling. Sharing memories of vacations gone awry, asking kids to share the funniest moments of their day, and telling kids the silly things they did as babies are all ways to keep the laughter flowing.
We all know that home is where our heart is. Creating joyful homecomings, giving our loved ones time to transition, developing healthy relaxation habits and laughter can help our hearts reside in a happy place.
Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Solutions, facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements. You can reach her and check out her website atwww.parentingsimply.com.