Part 2: On Being Present
There’s a difference between being present physically and being present relationally and emotionally in your home.
While both are important, it’s the latter that truly meets needs.
Not the present-but-cranky, distant or distracted parent and wife I have often been, but the one that engages, sees, and builds up those in her home.
Through intentionally choosing to be fully present, we are able to nurture our families in ways that would not happen otherwise.
If we’re not careful, the busyness of life will distract us, and we’ll miss the importance of being available now, not tomorrow.
What does it mean to be present at home in practical terms? Here are some ideas for wives and moms.
How to be Present in Your Home
1. Do life together
As a mom
Involve your children in what you’re already doing. If you run a business out of your home, include them. If you’re remodeling or redecorating, bring them alongside you to participate and learn. If you’re baking, exercising, writing, spending time with Jesus… invite them in. In these ways, do life with your children.
And while you’re at it, talk to them. Find out about their hopes, dreams, thoughts and insights. Share yours too.
As a wife
Maybe your husband is not going to join you in doing the dishes each night after dinner, but maybe you can serve him with your presence by joining in with his projects or hobbies.
After the kids are in bed, I like to go out and sit in my husband’s shop, to talk with him while he works. As time goes by, he’ll ask me to assist in some small way. It becomes a fun, relaxed, meaningful time together. I get to see and be involved in what he’s doing.
2. Meet emotional needs
As a mom
Dr. John Perkins defines a child’s three most basic needs as the following:
1. To be loved and feel belonging
2. To be affirmed and considered significant
3. His own space, a place which is no one else’s and the sense of assurance no one is going to take it away.
I love the little grin I get out of my 4-year-old daughter (my oldest) when I say things like, “You are so much fun to be around! I love hanging out with you. You’re my little buddy. I’m so glad God gave you to me!”
She makes no effort to conceal her delight in the fact that she is enjoyed and valued.
These little phrases take so little effort, yet do much to let our children know how we feel about them– that we see them, that we like them, that we want them. Yet how often do we fail to tell them, due to simple lack of awareness of their needs?
And, what’s more, how often do our actions, tone or even our words convey a much different message. One that says, “You’re annoying me. I don’t want you to talk. You’re not important. I’m “busy” (on Facebook). Go away.”
I’ve been guilty of this tone more than I care to admit in my moody pregnant state. It’s no excuse.
Also, a child’s need for personal, safe space is often overlooked in the name of making them share… or the desire for the younger ones to stop whining. Reflecting on this as a basic emotional need has helped me to respect my kids personal space in new ways.
As a wife
In the same way, our husbands have emotional needs (as do we of course). These vary from one to another, but in a recent marriage class at church we read a chapter from Willard F. Harley Jr.’s Fall in Love Stay in Love where we learned about various possible emotional needs and filled out a questionnaire to discover our own and our husbands.
If you’d like to do the same, Dr. Harley has made all this information available online. You can find it here.
I found it a fun and enlightening process. Knowing each other’s top emotional needs has improved our marriage and allows me to be more present in the ways that matter most to my husband.
3. Give the gift of delight
God models this for us so well. As a good Father, He delights in His children! What a gift for us to relish in as Christ-followers!
Has the full force of that settled into your life? If not, spend some time looking at and thinking about these scriptures.
Let this truth change you. Your ability to give the gift of delight in your home will overflow from a right understanding of God’s delight in you!
As a mom
When we know God’s delight in us, it’s easy to see how life-giving this is. Delight is something I can say my parents did very well for my siblings and me. They thought we were fun, that our jokes were witty, and spending time with us was clearly pretty great to them.
When was the last time you sat back and watched your child be silly or do a performance and just visibly and totally delighted in them. It’s powerful.
As a wife
Our husbands notice if we like them. They notice if we desire them. If we enjoy their company. Each of these factors greatly impact how
I hope you like your husband. I do. But for me, life circumstance, hormones, unrelated emotional turmoil or stress can cause me to target my innocent husband with grouchiness rather than enjoy him as the blessing and gift from God that he is.
Our task is to overcome what we feel in that moment and instead intentional choose gratitude and delight in our few short years on this planet.
Do yours know that? Do mine?
Let’s take time this week to do just that.
What would it mean for you to be more present at home?
The ideas in this post are adapted from Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund.
This is Part 2 of 10 in a Series on
Establishing a Strong, Simple and Settled Home: Exploring the Deeper Aspects of Homemaking
To follow along with the series throughout the month of April, and to ensure you do not miss a post, I would encourage you to subscribe to the blog by email below.