You unzip the backpack, and there it is; your Valentine’s Day mission…er…instructions. It reads something like this “Please bring a Valentine for each child in the classroom. Here are the 22 students’ names. We will also be having a party and would love volunteers to bring treats or snacks. Sign-ups are on the door.”
When I read these instructions, it translated like this, “Please hand-make the most unique, clever, and desirable Valentines this world has ever seen. Don’t even think about settling for store-bought cards. Stay up all night to create these, and on top of that, don’t forget to bring a Pinterest-style treat that could win a bake-off competition. Since sweet treats are the most desired treats, you should make and bring both a clever, healthy snack AND go ahead and make that fancy sweet treat too. After all, your child will never look at you the same if you fail them. Complete your mission by February 14. These instructions will implode in 24 hours.”
I’d immediately jump onto Pinterest and scour the Internet for the best Valentine that we, I mean I, could make. I’d find the best treats and snacks and prepare for my mission. There was usually a wake-up moment that would happen late in the evening the night before when I would ask myself, “Why in the world am I doing this?” At that moment, I’d struggle to find the answer. It’s not because my child would love me more, I win a prize pot of money, or I want my child’s first-grade teacher to think I’m the best mom she’s ever seen. I had no plans of posting it to Pinterest, social media, or a mommy blog. I must be doing it for the kids, right? They would feel cheated and slighted if they JUST had Valentine cards, a few carrot sticks, and store-bought cupcakes. It might ruin them, and they might be bitter about love and all things associated for life, right?
That can’t be true. I have such fond memories of getting those paper cards and have no recollection of the party snacks. I DO remember the candy conversation hearts, and the single heart card in the envelope. I had hope that “Jason” my first-grade crush, would put the “Be Mine” heart in my envelope. I had no expectations of what my mom should or should not do. I made my own box, wrote on my own cards, and I loved it.
“So, what you’re saying is that all of the work is for nothing?” Well, it may not be for NOTHING, but it satisfies something completely off target from the original intention of helping my child create fun memories and feel special. Why do we place such crazy expectations on ourselves? Is it possible that our kids and the people around us might have a full love tank by the simple things; the free, thoughtful, but basic things? It’s entirely possible and absolutely the truth.
Let’s take the LOVE HABIT CHALLENGE. This is a 5-Day Challenge to begin creating habits to show those around you they are loved without all of the crazy production. *Side note, if the crazy production is your thing, do your thing. We wouldn’t have Pinterest if no one were into all of those cute and clever ideas.
Over the next 5 days, do the challenge of the day. If you liked the prior days’ challenge and would rather repeat that, go for it! The point is to find simple ways to love as a habit, not as an expectation or production. You’ll notice that there are “pour in” habits and “pour out” habits. We can’t love from an empty tank. When we take the time to invest in our soul and health, we have a full cup to pour from. You’ll be tempted to skip pouring in and underestimate the effect of filling your own cup. Don’t fall into that trap. It’s not selfish; it’s actually building your ability to be selfless in a higher capacity.
Day 1: First & Last Few
The first and last few minutes of our day have the power to set the tone, focus, and directly affect the outcomes we experience. If we want to be intentional and purposed about loving those around us, we need to set our focus. It’s easy to wake up and think about our to-do list; the daily worries, and leftover junk from the day before. Instead, set a timer for one to five minutes and write out things you are grateful for. At the end of your day, set the timer again and list things you can celebrate.
Day 2: Impressionable Interaction
The first interactions of the day can often set the mood. Wouldn’t it be amazing to set our family’s mood by immediately giving them a big hug, dancing with them in the kitchen, or making up a silly love song to sing to them? They may laugh or smile, and they’ll definitely feel loved.
Day 3: Let Go
Let go of one expectation you’ve put on yourself that is creating stress and steering you away from fully loving your people. Let go of the expectation that dinner needs to include several dishes. Or, let go of the expectation that lunches need to be homemade, cute, and clever.
Day 4: Connect
Science has proven that to be starved of physical touch delays emotional, social, physical, and cognitive development in children. The power touch has in children is not lost on adults. We are made for connection. Today, intentionally touch a shoulder, hold a hand, hug, kiss a forehead, put a hand on a knee…there are endless ways to connect.
Day 5: Be Into Them
Everyone loves to be listened to. Want to make someone feel like a million bucks? Let them talk! Don’t multi-task, give them full eye contact, nod and respond to what they are saying, ask clarifying questions, and show that you are 100% attentive.
After the 5 days, decide on one challenge that you want to focus on, and practice until it becomes a habit. Choose the one you are not already doing. Write a note about the effects of these simple habits to remind yourself the next time you serve yourself with a massive “mission” in need of a simple solution. Love habits may not be “Pinterest worthy,” but they are life-changing.
about the author…Jamie, the wife of her high school sweetheart and mom of 4 boys, has been in the fitness industry for 18 years. “Fuel the body, mobilize the soul” is her mission. Connect with Jamie on Facebook www.facebook.com/jamiebeeson1 or online at bit.ly/JamieBeeson.