Cozy, Not Perfect
I am inspired today to talk about the tenth Momfidence principle: I aim for cozy not perfect. The inspiration comes as I hunker down with my family, in a wonderful old hotel in Canada. Outside has accumulated 10 inches of snow. Sixty mile per hour winds are slashing ice against the windows. But inside, every fireplace is lit and hot pots of tea and warm scones are transforming the the space into a cosy refuge from the storm. While we pray for the safety of those contending with all that's going on outside, we are finding gratitude that we have been caused to stop. We cannot travel, the internet has stopped working, and we have been given a Haven in which to gather, get warmed, and spend time together. It is cozy.
This time of year we can see many articles and videos on decluttering our homes. There is something so refreshing about getting my home clean and in order! But it takes hard work to get it that way, and I will confess that sometimes, after working so hard, I can get pretty testy with my family if they mess it up again. Not only do I not want all my hard work to be undone, but I can take it as a personal insult after creating such a wonderful space “for them”. The influence of all the women I grew up around, who prided themselves on their housekeeping (and never let a child into their formal living rooms) intrudes into my adult thoughts. But I do my best to check those thoughts and snappishness by asking myself, “How do I want my children to remember me?”. Certainly not as someone with a sterile house and a cold heart. So while I love a clean, shining house, I've chosen to aim for cozy, not perfect.
What is cozy? The dictionary describes it with words like, comfortable, warm, restful, cheerful, secure, safe, welcoming, and snuggly. What wonderful words! I want my children to think of our home that way. But more importantly, I want them to remember me that way!
I have the privilege of talking to people from all over the world every day on my radio show. And I often hear adults, some grandparents themselves, who long to know that their moms loved them in that way. I don't want my children to have to long for those feelings. I want to actively fill their hearts and souls with the knowledge that I love them by creating times, as well as spaces, that help them feel safe, secure, at ease, cheerful, rested and welcome in my home and heart.
Sometimes creating that cozy space and relationship is going to include a fire in the fireplace, candle light,cuddly blankets, warm drinks, yummy snacks, and positive conversation.
Other times it will be laying round in our pajamas ignoring the dishes, and the laundry, and hoping no one drops by in the middle of the mess, but connecting with my people in a heartfelt and vital way. In fact, ignoring the mess and work and focusing on them is huge part of letting them know how much they matter.
As often as I can, I remind myself that my children don't care if our home is Instagramably decorated, or if every meal is a gourmet feast, or if I’ve chaired every school committee, or if I have six-pack abs. They care that they feel loved by me. Then, I intentionally choose the joy that cozy can bring.
If that is something that you want for yourself and your children here are some suggestions for creating coziness in the different stages of your child's life.
Infant and toddler:
This stage is all about cuddles and kisses. Relish it!
Play, gaze at each other, nap together, cuddle and read pictures books. Fit in as much of it as you can for the sheer joy and connection of it. It will make the good times great and the difficult times easier to bear.
If your having an exhausting, irritating day, prioritize connection. Put pillows and blankets in the floor, and get out old school toys that don't make noise or blink lights, like play food, puzzles, coloring books, and enjoy some quiet play together.
Play together. Paint. Read a chapter a night (or more!) of wonderful books you both enjoy. Reading aloud together gives you and your child a shared experience and “friends” that you can get excited about and talk about together.
Take walks or do one-on-one sports together.
Bake together. Using the Great British Baking Show as inspiration, my youngest daughter and I had lots of fun together trying recipes we hadn't seen before. Some recipes will become family traditions with lots of cozy memories attached.
This is a time when your child wants to be closer to you, even though society says they want to push away. As they seek to become their own people, our kids desperately want our validation, and the emotional security of being close on a regular basis.
Plan dates with your teen. Go to breakfast, or a movie and dessert and just talk and have fun. (Don't make this a time of international, or discipline)
Take up a shared hobby. Take a cooking class together. Learn to sew or knit together.
Intentionally set aside a few hours a week to just hang out comfortably at home together without having to rush to the next activity.
Make sure you're still hugging your teen. Yes even young men will feel emotionally healthier when hugged several times mm es a day by his parents.
Our adult children need a cozy place to come to when they visit. Welcome their visits with open arms, literally.
Make some of their favorite foods.
Have interesting (not divisive) topics to talk about.
Listen with an open heart to everything that's going on in their lives, and be encouraging.
Send them text during their off hours, just to tell them your thinking of them and you love be them.
Send care packages. Everybody feels loved when someone send them a package full of home baked goodies, or their favorite treats.
For more encouragement, check out my book Corporal Works of Mommy, or tune into the More2Life Radio program on EWTN.