Love Languages: Acts of Service

This is my last post on the book by Gary Chapman–Love Languages.  There are five love languages quality time,  gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, and now Acts of Service.

I love Acts of Service–that is what I grew up providing and that is how I found acceptance and love from my Mom.  Twisted and not quite right but still.  I was valued by the quality of the “service” that I provided.  So I work really hard to please by doing.  So since my  childhood experience was distorted it has taken me a very long time to fully understand what the Acts of Service really is . . . as an adult who has worked through some issues.

An Act of Service is serving God by serving others.  The service will be different for different people.  My wonderful husband brings me coffee on Saturday morning.  The only morning that I have to lounge until around 7!!!  I joyfully give my mother-in-law food rubs, that she loves.

For my kids I have provided Acts of Service since their  very first moments but as they get older I do different special things for my different kids.  I want my kids to know that I serve God by serving them–that is actually a “house rule”.  So these are some of the ways that I offer acts of service to my children (and the other children that I work with):

  1. Help them complete and assignment or a chore.  My son is now responsible for loading and unloading the dishwasher–but sometimes either my husband or I will help him as we talk through homework or a life lesson.
  2. I fill the water bottles each day for the kids–so they know that they will start out with a full water bottle and they will need to refill.  Because I did the first part–they gladly refill.  That makes my life easier.
  3. My oldest daughter washes and dries the clothes (a blessing to me) and I sort, fold and have the kids put away their clothes.  They know we are moving to the point where they do their own laundry so they acknowledge this gift.
  4. Making their favorite cake on their birthday, and their favorite dinner, and getting them balloons.   They are very grateful for the splurge.
  5. Tying shoes, stopping what I’m doing to find a toy . . .
  6. When I go to the library I look for a book they might like.
  7. I sit and listen when they play their music–I give them 100% attention.  Stopping and giving them center stage is a way to let them know you value their playing.
  8. Getting up early to cook the cinnamon rolls.
  9. Making a bubble bath and then reading to the kids while they are in the tub.
  10. I try to make time for each kid each day and connect in some way, double checking backpacks together, or in homeschooling reading the instructions when I don’t really need to.

It was hard to come up with Acts of Service for kids–it is much easier to show my husband . . .

  1. Putting a book on his Kindle without him asking me.
  2. Putting a new app on his phone .
  3. Putting an almond croissant in his lunch box.
  4. Sending him a text telling him how much he means to me.
  5. Picking up his dry-cleaning when I know he is having a busy week–even though it is out of my way.
  6. Making his favorite dinner and using his favorite plate (we have a few from his Grandma).
  7. Starting the shower for him in the morning.
  8. Giving him a foot rub without him asking.
  9. Make sure the house is not crazy when he walks in each night.
  10. Creating a loving home that is his refuge (that’s my favorite thing!).

Be Blessed as you discover your own ways to show love through acts of service.

On Your Heart
Soli Deo Gloria
Hip Homeschool Moms
Top {Ten} Tuesday
What I Learned This Week
Titus 2sdays
Teach Me Tuesday
Domestically Divine
Heart and Home Linkup

Love Languages–Physical Touch

This is my fourth week of writing about Gary Chapman’s book the Five Love Languages.  I have written about gifts, words of affirmation, quality time and today I’d like to introduce (or re-introduce) to you the love language of physical touch.

I just feel like I need to say that swatting, the whack and the cuff are not a appropriate way to express this love language.  I did tell my kids that I was writing about physical touch and they had a great time showing each other how much “love” they could give each other.

As humans we need community but not all of us need to be cuddled and “hugged up”.   For whatever reason some people just are uncomfortable–I try to be respectful of that.  I have one child who did not want to be hugged or cuddled–oh my that was hard for me.  I “wear” my kids and created some really cool baby slings for them as they grew . . . I often wore two kids at once!  When a child craves that closeness, giving it to them is the easiest way to have a good day because they seem so much happier.  So the baby that did not want to be in my face–I pointed outward in the sling or front pack.  My last child was in a backpack and he loved that–he has some challenges that we have been working through since day one but slow and steady will win the race!  My solution was to wear him on my back and hold him as much as I could.

I have two children with sensory issues–one loves physical touch and movement (swinging, bouncing, biking) and the other feels like touch is almost a violation to his “being”.  Our house needs to be really creative with creating an environment that honors each child when it comes to touch, smells, sounds . . . and it is challenging explaining to the rest of the world by they can’t just “touch” my kid.

My fourth baby did not want to be held by me but loved being held and wrestled with his brother.  I need to be open and realize that I just wasn’t doing the touching the way that baby wanted it.  Even when I tried to do the same thing big brother did–it didn’t work.  #4’s connection was with his brother not me, and only big brother could address his love language.  Fast forward until now I do worry that my baby will think that all big boys are his wrestling buddies so we are working on setting some boundaries.

I incorporate physical touch into the day in a variety of ways:

  1. When my kids were babies I always gave them a massage after bath–I used a variety of oils–it really depended on the child.  I still rub the foreheads of my girls each night.  (not gonna lie–I do not always do this joyfully–I start out crabby until I realize how important it is for me to stop, pause, and pray over my girls).
  2. I read aloud to the kids and I always try to have a child on each side–just sitting next to each other.  Or I’ll read sitting on their bed–that is a big deal and I’m not sure why.  At the cabin where things are “dialed down” we will have a bed party, reading for hours and taking turns–the kids love the bed party.  I also split kids up during church so that I can have one on each side.  Church often dissolves into a game of “kid checkers” as I move and jostle to get just the right balance.
  3. We are an active house–we play basketball and soccer together and get physical there.  The pool is my favorite place for physical touch–I love singing Kindermusik songs and throwing the kids in the air–whipple doodle, whipple doodle, whipple doodle, WEEEEEEE, as they fly in the air.
  4. I hug my kids several times a day–often picking them up and spinning them.  Even my big kid thinks its fun.  I start each day with a hug and end each day with a hug–I call them my morning hugs and my goodnight hugs.
  5. I am not a big high-five person, but that does count as positive physical touch.  Recently my #4 learned the up high, down low, too slow version of High Five and he thinks it is the funniest thing ever . . . I respect that is his version of the love language.
  6. Simple holding hands.  It really is for more than just parking lots!
  7. Floor time–if I lay on the floor I will have as many kids that are in my house at that time piled on top of me.  I randomly say “dog pile Mom” and lay dow to see who hits first and hardest.  We love dog pile in our house and the kids use it to “make up” with each other after a fight.  I’m do not pretend to understand the logic of the kids I just write about it.  My guess is that it is equivalent to a boy hug.
  8. We work in the kitchen quite a bit together–that time of working side by side gives us a time to be together–often opening the window of opportunity to talk.  The kids get so excited when I lift them onto the counter (normally a forbidden activity) and look them right in the eyes and talk.
  9. Swinging, stroller rides, rides in the burley thing–as soon as my kids see a swing they beg “push me, push me”, or a wagon–“pull me”, even if you are not exactly touching them all the time it counts.  I have spent, no exaggeration, 100’s of hours pushing kids on a swing and singing songs.  They love that–and I learned to not think about the dirt on the kitchen floor, but to embrace and enjoy that time with them.
  10. Slug Bug (when you see a VW bug you slug the other person) is currently our families favorite way of showing affection.  The kids are developing their own ways of expressing themselves through physical touch–slug bug, sports, fixing each other’s hair, wrestling and high fives.

The love language of touch really does evolve and change with each child as he develops.  What works for my smallest no longer works with my big kid.

I had a break in writing this post . . . as my husband was getting ready to leave for the day he said good-bye to each child–in his own way–one child was pick upside down, one had a belly rub, the other he brushed hair, and the final child was a huge hug.  I suppose I should do a list of the things my husband does . . . so this post will be longer than most!

  1. Plays soccer with the kids.
  2. Gives belly rubs.
  3. Chases them around the house.
  4. His own version of Dog Pile.
  5. Plays basketball.
  6. Gives them a hug good-bye in the morning and a hug good night in the evening.
  7. Goes to all their sporting events . . . (sometimes we divide and conquer but mostly he goes to every game).
  8. The kids get to take turns sitting by him on the couch while he reads.
  9. He helps the kids with coats and shoes in funny ways–“the sock is gonna eat your foot–yum, yum”.
  10. If the kids aren’t already up (they usually get up at the crack of dawn) he will go in and gently wake them up with a song and a pat.

Be Blessed as you work out the best ways to spend with your kids.

On Your Heart
Soli Deo Gloria
Hip Homeschool Moms
Top {Ten} Tuesday
What I Learned This Week
Titus 2sdays
Teach Me Tuesday
Domestically Divine
Heart and Home Linkup

Love Language: Words of Affirmation

The last two weeks I have written a top ten list and posting on the blog Many Little Blessings concentrating each week on one of Gary Chapmans Love Languages.  There are five love languages; gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.

This week is Words of Affirmation.  This is a hard one for me!  I’m not exactly a drama mama but I am on the loud side–I have 3 talkers and 1 talk/screamer.  Of my 3 talkers–one talks non stop, one asks questions non stop and the other is always singing–and they are never talking or asking questions about the same thing.  Sometimes by the time breakfast is over I feel like I’ve been a personal Google site with 1000 of hits.

I try to answer all the questions and patiently listen to all the comments but I find myself constantly saying the same things.  Such as this scenario:

  1. Get in the car.
  2. Go to the bathroom before you get in the car.
  3. We won’t be back for a couple of hours–get a water bottle before you get in the car.
  4. Get out of the car and go put some shoes on.
  5. Yes, please get your stuffed animal and get in the car.
  6. (sitting in the car getting ready to pull out of the drive way) Oh, wait!  I need to pee!  I forgot my book! Do I need a jacket?  and on and on and on.
  7. Repeat for the next trip.

Sometimes I get flustrated.  Shocking I know.  Sometimes I use words that are NOT affirming.  I give looks that are not affirming and I even have a prayer “Jesus, please help me” that is a little on the sarcastic side–lets be clear I’m not proud of any of these things–but in my quest to be authentic I feel the need to be honest.

I know how important affirming words are and yet I let getting in the car throw me into a tail spin.  I’ve really been working hard for about the last 2 years to use affirming words (since I listened to the CD).  The easiest way I found to start is to make a list so I have a go to move.  When I’m overwhelmed it is hard to say “have a super duper lolly luper day snookie wookums”.

So here is my top ten list–which I’m sure will be more like a top 40 because I have 4 kids and they all need to be affirmed verbally in a different way.  I do verbally affirm the kids (and my husband) but I also give them notes.  My personal favorite is hiding notes for them–in pockets, under their plate at dinner, write on their banana in their lunch, my son and I have a secret code . . .

Before I do the list I wanted to mention that words of affirmation is not my love language–good thing because I grew up with lots of sarcasm and rudeness.  I have found that as I get older I seek less validation from the world and more affirmation from my husband and kids.  This summer I had my kids keep a gratitude journal–that was very affirming for me–they think I’m the best Mom ever (on most days).  The gratitude journal is a way to practice using our words of affirmation.  Check out this September guide to gratefulness from Ann Voskamp.

These are my top 27 affirmations:

  1. I love you.
  2. I love your laugh.
  3. I love how you put your outfits together.
  4. You make me smile.
  5. Can you tell me a knock knock joke?
  6. I love you to the moon and back.
  7. Let’s play the “I love you more game”!  No, I love you more .  . .
  8. Can you read to me?
  9. Thank you.
  10. Please.
  11. Wow, that was such a huge help to me!!!
  12. Thanks for getting in the car without my heading spinning around–I appreciate that!  (said without sarcasm)
  13. You play the piano, guitar, drums so much better than yesterday.
  14. Can you play me the song that goes like . . . I love that one.
  15. I need a #1, #2, #3 and a #4 helper.  Which one do you want?
  16. I’m going to try to do everything without complaining or arguing–anybody with me?
  17. I am thankful for you.
  18. I’m so happy God made you my kid!  All the other Moms are bummed.
  19. I’m so lucky to have a girl like you!
  20. I love your freckles.
  21. I’ve never seen eyes your color before.
  22. Thank you for thinking of me.
  23. I’m going to try really hard be gentle, loving, kind and respectful–will you try too?
  24. Welcoming each day with a genuine, heartfelt “Good Morning!” and I have a little different “good morning” for each kid, “good mornin’ time”, “good morning beautiful”, “good morning–I missed you” and “good morning, how’d you sleep? or did you have a good rest?”  They know who is up by the words that I use.
  25. Cleaning goes so much quicker when I have your help.  or when you sing.  or when you read to me.
  26. A smile.
  27. My friend gives her son a “thumbs up” when things are going well.  I like non verbal “words” of affirmation.

I’m stopping there–partly because I need to get back to my real job of being a mom and the other is that I think I could write 100’s.  I work really hard to lift my kids up with positive words and with their own journals I hope that they are learning for themselves to see that “in everything give thanks” is the way to a happier day.

There are lots of apps out there that have reminders–if you have trouble getting started using words of affirmation–schedule them in.  We schedule everything else–why not?  There are also lots of apps for affirmations–I was surprised at how many.  I don’t have these apps but they were fun to look at–do I need my phone to tell me I’m beautiful?  No, but not gonna lie–I smiled.

Today I’m linking up with these awesome writers.

On Your Heart
Soli Deo Gloria
Hip Homeschool Moms
Top {Ten} Tuesday
What I Learned This Week
Titus 2sdays
Teach Me Tuesday
Domestically Divine
Heart and Home Linkup

Top Ten: Love Language of Gifts

Last week I  began to write about Gary Chapman’s five Love Languages.  My focus this week is on the importance of Gifts, another of the languages.   I have the CD and I find it easy to listen to in the car–it is just a bit here and there but I find that it gives me more time to take it all in and then apply it.  I process best tiny bits at a time.

I have one daughter that loves to “get things”.  It doesn’t really matter what it is but the fact that I’m giving her something is a thrill.  The bigger the bow–the better it MUST be.  The best thing in the world for her is if I find something that goes will one of her “collections”–it completely validates how she feels about her things.  For my daughter it is about the love.  I am not a “collector” kind of person and she realizes how hard it is for me to add more stuff–she knows that me giving her a stuffed lizard to “make the family complete” may drive me crazy so she will thank me to the moon and back and promise that they will stay together.  She understands that it isn’t “my thing” but I still do it.  She understands that I sacrifice my own sense of order so that she will find JOY.  She feels loved.  (and that is what I’m going for 🙂

I do work hard to keep the amount of stuff in check.  I also do not have a million dollars to spend on all the kids–so I don’t.  I don’t need to.  To make kids who respond to this love language feel that they matter and are cared for is really pretty simple–it just needs to be a “plan ahead” as I like to call it.

A plan ahead is anything that takes me more than 24 hours to pull off.

  These are my top ten “gifts” to give to my kids:

  1. A note in their lunch box with a chocolate kiss.
  2. Wrapping a plain ol’ cookie in a nice box with a bow.
  3. Stopping off for ice cream or getting one of those single serve ones at the grocery store!  (always a huge hit)
  4. Doing one of their chores for them so they can have extra biking time.
  5. Buy ribbon that is special to just that child–wrap new everyday items with that ribbon–like a toothpaste flavor that they like, or a special retro bottle of Fanta orange (it is so adorable–I bought it for her stocking!  she will upcycle it into a zillion things!!!) (and yes, I’m planning ahead for Christmas)
  6. Make a book for them–a simple 4 page book that tells why they are loved.
  7. Frame a picture for them
  8. Start a “red plate” tradition.  or any other plate–when I was growing up the person who had the CHIPPED plate was special.
  9. Recycle–turn and old t-shirt into a pillow or a purse.  Be creative.
  10. The best gift I think I have ever given my daughter was a Pandora bracelet.  I add maybe one bead a year.  I don’t buy the most expensive beads but ones that are very meaningful to her.   I know that she loves this tradition the best.

I have to remember that this won’t be her love language forever but it will probably be the one she feels most validated by.  Each kid is so different and with each stage that they pass through requires more “plan aheads” but that is what makes this job so much fun.

Be Blessed.  (words of affirmation–that is next week)

On Your Heart Soli Deo Gloria Hip Homeschool Moms Top {Ten} Tuesday What I Learned This Week Titus 2sdays Teach Me Tuesday Domestically Divine Heart and Home Linkup and with Lydia at Mindful Mothering

Top Ten: Quality Time

I was clearing out my husband truck and found the CD set of Gary Chapman–The Five Love Languages for Children (he also has one for marriages).  I remember listening to it a couple of years ago before the CD set too up residence in the truck.  I know my husband listened to it and I was grateful for that.  I think we should probably listen to it again–maybe together this time?

The premise of the book is that we all respond more to a certain Love Languages and they are:

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Words of Affirmation

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

So I wanted to share my top ten ideas of Quality Time.

  1. Building Legos–especially with my youngest who has some fine motor skill issues–he loves it so much when I build him a car.  The simplest thing is huge for him.
  2. Finding time each day to spend one-on-one time with each kid–when I was changing diapers this was easy . . . but now it takes a little more effort.  I’ll help them brush their teeth–alone in the bathroom–in our house just having 1 other person in the bathroom with you is a treat!
  3. I try to find time to walk/ride bikes/play soccer with my big kid–he needs to move so our activities involve movement.  His favorite thing about this summer is when we snuck off to the water park by ourselves–just us and a water slide.
  4. Craft time–the girls are working on cross stitch and I do enjoy helping them and they enjoy getting better at it.
  5. A family concert.  We all sit and listen to each child play.  We clap, they bow and everyone feels good.
  6. Taking just one kid to the grocery store.  or the doctor’s office or the ER.
  7. Having quiet time together.  Just “being” with each other.
  8. Having the kids “teach” me something–like Angry Birds–which I am still horrible at playing.
  9. Reading a book that they choose.  We read a LOT but often it is to accomplish something and not for “fun”.  Even if it is a book I’ve read 1000 times.
  10. My favorite quality time is when I’m at the cabin–I’m in my chair overlooking the lake, with a hot cup of coffee and a little kid gets up and snuggles down in my “nest” and then falls asleep again.  I treasure that quiet moment watching a bigger kid sleep–feeling their heartbeat, listening to them breath.  It takes me back to those middle of the night feedings where the world just stops and it is just me and my baby.

I remember when my daughter was about 2 and I was big as a barn pregnant again . . . I was trying to get her down for a nap and the phone rang–“Momma, momma the phone!” and I told her that she was more important than the phone.  The look on her face was pure joy!  She felt like she was the most important person in the world.

I want my kids to feel that way everyday.  I want to greet them each morning with a smile.  I want them to know how much they matter to me!

Disclaimer:  I am not perfect and I totally lose it on some days (or really any time we need to get in the car).  Each moment we are given another opportunity to show our kids how much we love them.

I’m linking up to these blogs–check them out!

On Your Heart
Soli Deo Gloria
Hip Homeschool Moms
Top {Ten} Tuesday
What I Learned This Week
Titus 2sdays
Teach Me Tuesday
Domestically Divine
Heart and Home Linkup