Mindful Monday: Light up with warm greetings

Whew! Just barely getting this Mindful Monday post up on time. I’ve been in recovery mode today, reconnecting with my family and trying to process all that I learned and experienced over the past few days.

It may surprise you to hear that a conference dedicated to the business of blogging left me feeling inspired to be a more present and more focused mother. But while it definitely delivered on the career advice, the Mom 2.0 Summit was an intensely emotional experience for me this year.

Let’s put it this way: I cried. A lot. And I’m not a big crier, particularly not a public crier. But this year? Waterworks, baby. The content and the speakers just hit me in all the right places this time – not only were they consistently profound and great, but I think perhaps I am in a place where I really needed to hear these specific messages.

I’ll be touching on several of the sessions that moved and inspired me in upcoming posts, but first I wanted to share the two that really summed up the way I want to relate to my children, and inspired this week’s Mindful Monday intention.

During the opening panel, the always awesome Brené Brown referred to an interview between Oprah and Toni Morrison that had touched her. In the interview Morrison had posed this question: does your face light up when your children enter the room?

Or do you criticize? Launch into a list of to-dos? Tell them to knock it off…whatever “it” is?

Perhaps you greet them with an “mm-hmm” or a “just a minute” or worse, no greeting at all.

Totally guilty here. My youngest three often get the distracted “hiiiii…” and I admit, far too often I greet my older kids with “Argh, did you brush your hair this morning” or “Did you get that homework done?”. Between school, activities and friends, my big boys are busy, and I don’t see them as much as I do the little ones, so it’s tempting to try to fill all available time with instruction and reminders – which can basically turn those ten minutes after school into a nitpicking cram session.

So I started thinking about ways I could remind myself to “light up my face” when my kids walk into the room.

Not every time, of course; that’s a lot to ask of myself when you consider that kids tend to “walk” into the room in ways that can set adult teeth on edge. And my three-year-old runs in and out of the room dozens of times each day; I can’t exactly greet her with a veritable fireworks display of maternal affection every five minutes.

But most of the time? Frequently? At least after they’ve been away from home for a while? What better opportunity to show my children affection, unconditional love and acceptance than in the way I greet them when they enter the house or walk into the room…even if that room IS my office, and I’m kind of busy at the moment?

I was reflecting on how to change this dynamic in my home hours later, when the also-always-awesome Gretchen Rubin gave a presentation about ways to be happier at home. One of the strategies Gretchen mentioned was that she and the rest of her family had made a resolution to give one another warm greetings and farewells.

What a lovely concept! Resolving to give your family warm greetings is a simple way to overcome the default distracted or naggy greeting. Because it’s a simple, measurable resolution it’s the kind of thing you can easily turn into a habit even before your feelings are “there” – in other words, fake it ’til you make it.

So that’s my intention for the rest of the week: to light up my face with warm greetings and farewells. Hopefully in time, it’ll become habit enough that I can use that “warm greeting” to overcome less-than-warm feelings.

I believe that when we act the way we want to feel, our feelings follow. Probably as I develop this habit, it’ll become clear that there are better ways to guide my older kids than unloading a pent-up pile of nags, and that whatever my younger kids seemed to be “interrupting” really can wait five or ten minutes.

I’m also realizing some other things that are getting in between me and the “lit-up face” I want my children to see, and I’ll explore those more in depth over the next couple weeks. But for now…

Hi, honey! So good to see you! How was your day?

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Do you “light up” when your kids walk in the room? Could warm greetings and farewells improve the daily dynamic in your home?

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