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Creating A Healthy Family Environment

A little over a year ago, we made the decision to move about 30 minutes north to a new city where we could afford to purchase a home that would be large enough for our kids to have their own bedrooms and where we would have a yard and our own space.

In addition, the school offered Spanish Immersion, which had been something we wanted academically for our kids.

Fast forward to today, not even two years in and while I LOVE our home and our new city, I am just not sure we made the best decision for the overall environment for our kids.

A dear mentor once told me that it’s all about location. If your kids grow up in a great location – fresh air, fresh water, good families – then you can consider yourself lucky.

While I really do consider us lucky – we have the ability to own a home – I am not sure that the stress of it all is really worth it.

How do you balance the good with your concerns?

For me, our 30-minute commute feels way longer, especially if you need to pick up a sick kid at school. We moved from the country with about an acre to a city where we have a small yard but that is crowded by many other lawns and is fenced in.

This is the first time – or nearly the first time – that I have lived somewhere with a fence. I don’t know why but for some reason, that visible boundary of a fence just plucks at my nerves. It makes me feel even more trapped than one might already feel when buying/owning a home.

We previously had our own chickens. Now we cannot due to the city’s laws.

Our kids go to after-care with a broad group of children, so on some days I do not see them until after 5 p.m. and then it is just a mad rush of homework, dinner, bath, books, and bed. I am sure we would have this anywhere, so this is not really location dependent , however it feels amplified by the commute time.

Is this the life I set out to live?

Creating What You Want, Where You Are

Bloom where you are planted. If we were flowers, we would have no choice but to make the best of whatever situation we land in. You landed in a crack in the sidewalk, better work hard to make it the best home ever because you can’t really move!

I think about this often. If I am here, how can I make this the best situation and really create an environment where my kids can thrive. I hate the arguments over dinner and homework, so what steps can I take to make these necessary times of day more fulfilling for all of us.

In addition to planning some yard improvements in the hopes of making the fence less obvious and the yard more inviting, there are two specific areas I hope to improve at home so that the kids are in a less stressful environment.

(The rest can come later when we buy our homestead, right honey?!)

1. One thing I have decided is to stop stressing about what they eat. While we have never been a “clean plate club” type of family, we have encouraged our kids to eat a certain amount of their food. The food I serve at home is much healthier than what they get at school, so I do feel it is important for them to have at least one nutrient-dense meal. But, is dinner the one?

I have decided to try to focus more on a nutrient dense breakfast. It’s the first meal of the day and often it is easier to get on the table and actually have them eat it. Over the next week, I plan to try out some different recipes – including a gut-healing soup – that can easily be served in the morning so I feel good sending them off with some healing food in their tummies.

Then when dinner rolls around, I can relax a bit and not have to have these ongoing battles.

2. Homework. This is the second area of the day that stresses our family out. When the kids get home, often they want to unwind. For my son, that means Legos. For my daughter – well it often means “helping” me in the kitchen or doing an arts & crafts project that requires more supervision that I might have the ability to provide her.

Then it comes time for homework. The call goes out – “OK, guys, let’s get our homework started.”

I can hear the audible – often very audible – groans from all parts of the house. They trudge to the dining room as if being sent to the gallows.

They plop themselves into their chair with glum looks on their faces. We try to stay upbeat and positive – “it’s not that much. It will be fast.”

My son draws it out seemingly forever. We encourage him to work through it and get it over with, but that seemingly does not make sense to him. Instead he prefers to stare at the wall and drag it out as long as possible until we are both standing over him pushing him to finish.

It is exhausting.

This week, I am trying to get them started on homework before they depart into their own little worlds for downtime. My thinking is – if they come home and get the work done right away, the fun stuff is the reward. And, also if they get what needs to be done first, then we can add little fun, educational, projects in after dinner.

We will see. How do you treat these stressful times at your house? Any suggestions on helping homework time be easier on the whole family?



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