A Little Family Ritual

4 years ago
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I can't remember exactly how it started. Maybe L. was having a hard time sitting still enough to eat her dinner or maybe J. had already started showing her how to take deep breaths when she was upset...I honestly can't remember which came first.

Either way we ended up with a little family ritual.

Every evening when we sit down together at the dinner table we hold hands and take three deep breaths. All together. Sometimes we take a few extra breaths.

It's wonderful. It makes me feel calm and centered and connected to my family. I think J. feels the same way. L. loves it. She asks to hold hands as soon as we sit down at the table.

I see L. taking deep breaths other times of the day too. If she gets upset I can remind her to take a deep breath and sometimes she will. Sometimes she does it on her own. There have been a few times when she's noticed I'm frustrated and she reminds me to take a deep breath. She'll say, "deep breath mom? Okay?" and she'll take my hands in hers.

I admit I was starting to worry about what kind of mother I am when my two year old is reminding me to take deep breaths. I don't want her to remember me as being stressed out and frustrated all the time. I don't think I am...but I was starting to worry with how often she asked me to take a deep breath.

But then she came up and asked me for a deep breath when neither of us were upset. I was reminded of something I read--kids like to do things over and over again (like reading a book) not because they want to hear the story over and over again but because they want to recreate the happy experience of sharing the book with someone they love.*

I think L. asks for deep breaths because she loves that moment each night before dinner when we feel so connected as a family.

When we don't eat together I miss that moment. I think she does too.

This morning we took some breaths to make up for the one we missed last night. We spent a few minutes watching the rain in our pajamas, holding hands, and taking deep breaths.

It was a sweet moment. She smiled and wiggled her toes in the rug.

*I'm 99% certain I read this is Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D. but don't quote me on it.

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