Kids are all different and sometimes we need a few creative ideas to help us show them our love! Julie Lavender, our guest, brings us some great encouragement and tips to show love...creatively!
Julie Lavender is the award-winning author of several books, including 365 Days of Celebration and Praise and Creative Sleepovers for Kids!, and coauthor of Come and Behold Him. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and curricula, as well as many magazines, such as The Upper Room, Guideposts, Homeschooling Today, ParentLife, Clubhouse, Today's Christian Woman, and Focus on the Family. Julie has a master's degree in early childhood education, taught public school in three states, and delighted in homeschooling her four children in six states during her husband's Navy career. She writes faith-based articles for her local newspaper and is a regular contributor to several websites and blogs on parenting topics. Julie lives with her husband, David, in South Georgia, not far from the charming city of Savannah.
Today, we’re talking about her book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child.
In 365 Ways to Love Your Child, Julie encourages moms, dads, and anyone who works with children to show kids every day with simple but meaningful gestures and activities how very much they are loved. Join Julie in expressing tangible acts of love to show your kids they are valued by their parents and, most especially, by God.
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What is The Connected Mom?
Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Welcome to the Connected Mom podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, your host, and I have with me today my amazing and illustrious cohost, Sarah Wildman. Hey, Sarah.
Hello, Becky. So I just us know that people are going to get something from this no matter what today, so I'm so excited. Go ahead and introduce our topic for today.
Yeah, I'm really excited, too. So our guest today is Julie Lavender. And Julie has written a phenomenal little book that you, Mamas, are going to want to get, particularly if you have young children. It is called 365 Ways to Love Your Child. And I just love that. And so I want to tell you a little bit about Julie. Julie was a homeschooling mom. She raised four kids in six states because her husband was in the Navy. She has a master's degree in early childhood education. She's an award winning author. And beyond. Writing 365 Days to Love Your Child. She's written 365 Days of Celebration and praise. Creative sleepovers for kids. She's just written a lot. She's been a guest on Focus on the Family, and she's my dear friend.
Hi. I am so glad to be here. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Hey, we are excited to have you. So tell us a little bit about what inspired you to first write this book. It's such a practical book, Julie. I love it. So what was your inspiration?
Thank you so much for your kind words, first off. But, uh, as a mom with four children, um, I loved all the little moments we spent together. Uh, sometimes I noticed that some of the most spontaneous turned out to be the most fun. One day, we were outside playing in the yard and we were visiting my mom, and the children got a little bored. And I noticed that, um, the dog was kind of wandering around. They have kind of a bigger farm. And I told the children, I said, oh, let's pretend Zoro is a spy and let's follow Zoro and see what he's going to do. My children still remember that it was so spontaneous. It was off the cuff, and they just remembered it so much. But, um, I just seemed to notice those little moments. One time we paid, um, the money to go to a theme park. Now we got discount tickets because my husband had just returned from a deployment. And it was fun. We had a good time. We spent a lot of money, more than we should have, but we did get discount tickets. Well, on the way back, I asked my kids. I said, what was the best part about the vacation? And my oldest said, jumping on the beds in the hotel room. We could have just rented a hotel room and jumped from bed to bed. Now, the funny thing is, we let them jump on the bed at home. It wasn't that. It was that they could jump from one bed to the other, and they had this great imagination imaginary game going. My husband joined in the fun. We stood on either side so they wouldn't get hurt. We kept having to scoot the mattress back over and we said, oh, it's a moat, watch out for the alligators. And it was just the most fun. Well, I thought about that afterwards and I thought, you know what? It's the little moments that my children have treasured the most after all this time. So I decided all these little moments that I had come up with, some that friends had suggested and some new ones, and I decided I wanted to put them all in a book so that someone else could treasure them as well.
I love that. And it's funny because we've gone on vacation with our adult kids now who have littles and I mean, jumping on hotel beds is a favorite. I really understand that.
It's always a favorite. And sometimes it's just those little things, and those get stuck in their minds and their hearts, and they're just treasured memories. And I wanted to be able to share that with other people because we had so much fun with those little moments.
Yeah, well, I'm excited to pick your brain on so many things in this book because I'm a mom of a six and eight year old, so I already previewed some, and I'm like, oh, this is exactly what I need. But in your book, you write that children need to feel loved and valued and appreciated every day, which is so true and such a good reminder. What do you think most often prevents them from feeling this way? A little more serious. But what often prevents them from feeling loved, valued, and appreciated?
Well, I think, unfortunately, we moms and dads get so busy with just the logistics of life that we often forget to be intentional, to show that love to our children. And we sometimes feel that by feeding, uh, them, getting them dressed in the morning, getting them to school, taking them to their activities, teaching them ourselves, if we're homeschoolers, we may think that those things convey our love because we are taking care of them. We're helping to raise them when they get a little bit older. I think our older children can recognize that, but especially when they're little, that just doesn't always translate that way to them, I think. That doesn't always translate into feeling loved. So I think we have to be intentional to show and describe that love. And it can be just in the little moments. Quick hugs and kisses each day. There were days that would go by and I'd think, could I even hug my kids today because I was so busy? Um, love notes, kisses, affectionate words. It doesn't take a lot. But if we're not intentional sometimes, I think we'll forget that, like like I did oftentimes. Um, but the only thing I have often shared with people about my book is my intention with 365 Ways. I hoped moms and parents could use this for over several years. I certainly didn't want to add one more thing to I don't want a mom to think, oh, my goodness, I got to add one more thing to every day. That was not my intention of 365 Ways, because there are days that I felt like I did good by getting them up, uh, dressing them, feeding them, bathing them, putting them right back in the bed again, because that might have been the day I was a single mom while David was off deployed. And so I think when we have those kinds of days, I think, as moms, we should just give ourselves mercy and grace and know that tomorrow is another day to show that love, and maybe we won't be as busy that day, and we can be more intentional that day. But unfortunately, I really think so much of it, we don't do it intentionally. I think it's just the busyness of our lives these days.
Yeah, I do, too, Julie. And, uh, one of the things that I love about your book is that I think we forget sometimes that parenting is supposed to be fun, and we can have fun with our kids. We can be silly with them. We can encourage their imagination. And when I think about God, when I think about Jesus in the New Testament, he was a lot of fun. Sometimes we missed that. But he went to parties, he danced, he loved the little kids. He wasn't scolding them, telling them to behave. He had fun with those kids. So how does having fun and building these intentional memories with our kids, how does that help our kids see God a little differently, do you think?
Well, sometimes I think even as an adult, sometimes, especially the pictures that we can see portrayed of Jesus, sometimes in books, they don't show Him smiling as often as I feel like he did. He stopped what he was doing to say, let the little children come to me. And he gathered him in his lap And I just can't imagine what all they talked about, and they probably laughed and giggled and had so much fun, but I think you're right. Um, I think I want to hope and believe that some of our parenting just helps our children naturally see that God is so much love. But that's not always the case. And I hate to keep using the word intentional, but I do think we have to be that way with our children. But on a daily basis, if we can remind them, if we say to them, if we're about to say, oh, I just love you so much, I think we can add to that. I love you so much, but God loves you even bigger than that. And when you're out running errands, you can say, I have so much fun with you when we run errands, but God just sings over you and has even more fun with you than I could ever think about doing. I think if we can kind of help our children see, especially when we're having fun, this is how much I love you and this is so much fun. But words can't even describe how much God loves you and let them have that little comparison, maybe from the very beginning. Um, and I also think it's important to, uh, get them to church activities, get them into situations, uh, where they'll have some of that spiritual blessing, but reading Bible stories to them so that they can see God's love and faithfulness, that it is a thread from Genesis one one all the way to the very beginning. It just does it doesn't just show up with Jesus in the New Testament, but his love is a thread all the way through. And reading those Bible stories. Um, this may sound like a shameless plug because my other book is called Children's Bible Stories for Bedtime, but I have a collection of Bible story books. I have loved collecting children's Bible story books since my kids were little, and we would go through a different one each year. And I just wanted them to be familiar with those Bible stories so that they would know how much God loved them.
So I'm going to put you on the spot, Julie. Like I said, I have a six and eight year old and obviously you're sharing a 365 ways in your book. But as you think back to elementary years, maybe could you share a few ideas, maybe one or two that are in your book for elementary kind of age? Because we know our listeners have kids in all age ranges. So I'm just going to pick kind of a spot and maybe some ways that they could feel loved and something fun. Maybe some of your favorites in that book.
Well, my husband's a biologist and so we liked the outdoors anyway. But my boys and my girls, actually, we all loved the outdoors. And I had to be careful not to, um, take my grocery list outside while I watched them playing or, uh, I don't even know what else I would do. Maybe even talk on the phone. We didn't live near home. And I might use that time to call my mom while I was keeping an eye on them. But I was watching them and those tasks I still needed to get done. And I did want them to play on their own. But I made sure that when I was with them, I was really with them. And randomly I might say, okay, let's have a stick race, um, in the stream, in the backyard, and we'd have to all pick a stick, and we had some kind of identifying way to know that it was ours. We'd toss it in on one end, and we'd run to the other end to see whose stick would win. And we might have to, um, prod it along with a stick or something like that. I, uh, can remember one time we built a stick, a string fort. We found some trees that were close enough together that we used string and some old yarn to put three walls, uh, on those trees. And then we would sit in there and have a snack. Or just they would play one side with their toys or something like that. One thing. My husband, he loved to do this. I think he just never outgrew this part of his childhood. We would clean up the toys every night before they went to bed. The kids, of course, would help us, or at nap time. But my husband would love to create this imaginary scene. Like, if this was a particular time my boys were into dinosaurs. Then when the kids went to bed, he'd pull the dinosaurs back out and arrange them on this mountain over here on the dinosaur map or something over here. He did do it all the time. But it was so much fun for the kids to wake up and, uh, see that their daddy had. And so it's like they were just thrust into this story, and they just started playing with the toys right away. So there's just so many little things that we did to just let them know we were thinking of them at all times and to let them know how much fun we actually had being with them.
I love that. Julie, I think you're underscoring how important it is for us as parents to play with our kids, to not just parent them as far as, like, all the do's and don'ts and, uh, get them up, remind them to brush their teeth, brush their hair, and all of that, but to really play with them. And I just love that, because that really develops their imagination. One of the sections of your book is called Making Memories When We're in the Kitchen. And I loved that one. Tell us some of the things we can do when we're in the kitchen, because I think for a lot of moms, they hear kitchen, and maybe they're rolling their eyes right now, like, oh, man, you should see the pile of dishes in my sink. Or, I have no idea what I'm going to serve for supper tonight. Or maybe their husband's cook, which is awesome. But what can we do as far as the kitchen to make memories with our kids to show them that we really love them?
It's interesting that you ask that, because one of my girls, some of my boys, some of their favorite memories are outdoors. But some of my girls favorite memories are being in the kitchen. With me. Um, in the sink, I had a stool that they could stand on that had sides, so I wasn't worried about them falling off. And I would fill up most of the time I had a double sink. We live in base housing a lot, but most of the time I had a double sink. And I would fill up one side with warm water and fish detergent and create a lot of bubbles. And they could play for the longest time with their little guys. Uh, it was usually some kind of, uh, toy animals. They were really into animals, and they were just little tiny animals, and they came up with just the most imaginary creative. And even though I was over here doing more dishes or stirring up some biscuits or something like that, I would join in on the play. I would make sure I was still tuning in with them, so I was still getting my chores done, but they were right there next to me, and I would join in on the game, and they just delighted in taking part in that with me, being in the kitchen with me. Of course, there's ways we can find to let them help us do the cooking or something like that, but we all know that sometimes, uh, we have to allow more time, if that's the case. And then if it was a day I was in a hurry, I just would have to do it on my own. But if I could take the time, then I would let them help me roll out the biscuits or something like that. We also did a lot of, um, playing with our food, I like to call it, and that I could incorporate, um, into some fun times in the day. But we would make penguins out of marshmallows and rolled Tootsie Rolls that we had pressed in our hand. And, um, I love the holidays, the sillier the better. And so I turn their milk, whatever color, to fit the season. It was pink. If it was Valentine's, it was orange. If it was fall, it was green. If it was, um, St. Patrick's Day, I've colored mashed potatoes. I've colored their rice before silly little things like that, where even if they were in their room playing or doing school work, since we were home schooling, when they would come to the table and I had green milk and green rice, it was like they knew I wasn't just in there trying to prepare a meal. I was thinking of them and trying to be creative. They might not have thought of that at the moment, but that memory later will be like, oh, my mom did that just for me. Um, so I loved a lot of the silly kitchen ideas that I came up with. Those are fun.
They are fun. And I'm thinking now of times in our home where we would make cookies together as a family, and it was always a colossal mess after always flower from the ceiling to the floor. And honestly, my husband would get just as silly as the kids and making these silly shapes. But I think that those build, uh, a good relationship with food, too. And they definitely help the connection between you and your child, because they realize that fun and meal times are fun. And I love the idea of coloring their food. That's amazing. So much fun.
Well, speaking of messes, um, in the kitchen, although if my mom's listening, she'd be like, uh, sarah is messier than the children in the kitchen. So that's just my truth over here. That's okay. Well, because when I make crafts, like, transitioning to another idea, um, crafts can be a real mess. And some of my dear friends, who are much cleaner in their life than I am, will be like, Sarah, I can't do it. Too much mess. Um, but we know how important creativity is. And so one of our questions is, how can our kids feel loved when we're doing projects with them? Why is it important to do that? Maybe it's not always a huge mess, but in terms of projects, what have you seen work really well with your kids and making them feel loved?
Well, I know that I've had some friends that weren't too into crafts because they just didn't like the mess. And sometimes there were days I just didn't want to fool with the mess. So, I think my advice would be you could think about that a couple of different ways. If you just can't handle the mess, then I say pick other activities. And in your mind, you can be like, okay, well, we'll let them glue the macaroni in Sunday school or BBS.
Or something like that.
You can do it a couple of ways, because we do know our limits. If crafts are not our thing, I would never encourage anybody to do that. But I would say, okay, then make sure you get creative outside. Um, get sidewalk chalk or paint work outside, so that all it takes is a water hose to clean up that mess. Um, you could do the craft outside. I've tried to keep old, um, tablecloths and blankets or sheets, and I would do the craft outside. And then you can either. Um, especially if it's an old, cheap tablecloth that I had gotten on sale at a party store. I might just wide everything up in that tablecloth and throw the whole thing away. And then that was a quick, easy cleanup from the mess. Um, but I think there's ways around it, but you also have to accept those limits if you're not prepared for that. One of the things my kids like to do when they were early, I think even kindergarten are still toddlers, uh, but also kindergarten in first grade. They love to play in rice bucket. I used to put rice in a big bucket. Well, I would just spread out a big sheet, put the rice bucket in the middle. They played with their little excavators and toys and cars and measuring spoons. And then at the end, they took great delight. And we all got a corner of the sheet. We all walked to the door with it, kind of folded it up and shook it on the sidewalk and driveway. And then we would take turns sweeping it up. So I think there's ways around working, cleaning up the mess, but I also don't think it's not going to be worth it if we're going to be miserable when the whole thing is over. Yeah, you can just decide somebody else is going to do that. Creativity. But I believe God gave us all creativity in some fashion. So I think it's so much fun to encourage that in our kids and see where their creativity takes them.
I love that. Julie so I have, uh, four adult kids and a lot of grandkids. And my one daughter is like, yeah, we don't do crafts. We send them to Mimi's house, which is my house for the crafts, or we send them to Auntie Bear's house because Aunty Bears are good at crafts. She's like, I just can't handle the mess. So you do have to know your limits, and I really like that. One of the, um, suggestions in your book is about making paper airplanes, and I particularly love that because in our family, we have, as I mentioned, four adult kids, and we have 14 grandkids. And they all, or most of them come Sunday at four for Sunday dinner. So we have glorious, chaotic time. And there's toddlers running through the house. And the bigs, what we call the biggs anybody that's six and up is a big. And so they have started this airplane business. So they're making paper airplanes. They call it fly high. And then we as adults have to go downstairs to my basement and we all have to buy paper airplanes from them. And so I keep a jar with loose change in it, and I'm pretty much paying for all the paper airplanes. But they love that. And they say they're saving to put strobe lights in my basement. So, I don't know. But talk to us about paper airplanes and just something so simple like that and how can that help your child feel loved by you?
Uh, what entrepreneurship of your grandchildren? My goodness, how clever. That is just the cutest thing ever, I think activities, um, any kind of activity like that, but just something as simple as paper airplanes that helps a child and an adult, a grandparent, um, a mom and dad, I just feel like that bonds them together. When we have these shared experiences within the family, it's like we have our own language. We might say in my family, we have this lavender image, uh, lavender language. One child. Sometimes all it takes is two or three words, and every child knows that memory, knows what activity they're talking about. One might just start tackling over here. It's this shared experience, this shared language. Yes, another family might play with paper airplanes, but not the same way my family did. And we've got those memories. We can't hardly talk about flying, uh, airplanes in my family without us remembering. One time on one of the stations, duty, uh, stations where we were, we went to the top of a, uh, playground. We shot them off from there. The wind just my daughter's, my second child, hers, just kind of fell to the ground. It didn't get lift or anything. The wind picked up my son's and carried it to the tallest pine tree we'd ever seen. It just took it and we couldn't get it back. But that is a memory. Now. My daughter, that's not a happy memory for her because she was so jealous that his flew so well. But my son, it was just this wonderful it's this sweet memory. That all we can do. We said a couple of words about that and the whole family members, the whole story. So it just brings you that warm family feeling of that time spent together, of those minutes that we shared as a family. Memories that we may forget when we get a little bit older. But it's memories that are engraved on our heart and our mind, and basically, we're just never going to lose those memories.
I love that.
No kidding. Speaking of memories, I think a lot of us, when we think back to our childhood, have memories about the holidays, right? I mean, that's often a time that just sticks out. And I was kind of thinking back to what you started with. But sometimes just in the routine of doing life or doing the holidays right, we can kind of, I don't know, lose the perspective of how our children are viewing it. So there are so many holidays. I love holidays, but not everybody's like that. Maybe drill down on a holiday or two and give us some ideas about maybe what made kids feel especially loved in your house during, I don't know, say, Christmas or one of those special holidays. Any tips? I think this podcast is hopefully just bringing a lot of brainstorming ideas for mamas and how it works in their life. So anything you can share on holidays would be awesome.
Well, um, we're all about holidays as well. Christmas, uh, probably the memories that my children have, most are spending it with grandparents because since my husband was military, that was the time for sure during the year that we'd get to go see grandparents. But before we went home, then, uh, I would love to do several things to help let them help me get decorated. And one of my favorite things is doing a gingerbread house each year. And I would put together just from the kids, um, one for each child, and they would get to decorate those. And we would have so much fun decorating those to the point that we kept doing them as they were adults. And every now and then they kind of rolled their eyes at me like, oh, gosh, we're still doing this after 30 years. But yet it's also one of those fun memories. They would invite friends every now and then, or a cousin would help. Then they would have this game. Whoever came to see them, the friend had to try to guess by knowing the four children which person that was gingerbread house was which. So we did a lot with decorations. But honestly, in addition, my children would have to probably make me say in addition to those big holidays we celebrated, I'm all into holidays, the sillier the better. And I like all those crazy ones that come about every day. There's national, um, aviation Day, like we talked about. Planes. Becky talked about planes earlier. But over that day, I might give them some of those, um, uh, inexpensive balsa wood planes that you kind of put together. I might have that on the table when they woke up with a note that said, your love gives me wings. And then we would go outside and play with those. There's a button and the cheesier the better. I loved leaving cheesy notes like that. It was National Cheese Day one time, and I pulled my grater out of my cheese grater out of the pantry and had a note on the table that said, um, my love for you is great. And of course, I spelled it grate. And then in my home schooling class, we, of course, had to talk about hominyms, that is the end, and spelling, of course, but there was a button day. So we would take that day and I said, okay, we're going to go count the buttons in the closet. Or I might say, we're going to find something with buttons that is gently used that you don't wear anymore, and we're going to go donate it to the women's shelter. So I loved those holidays and the sillier the better. I incorporated usually some cheesy love note to go with it. And those are some of the funnest memories my children have of, uh, their childhood, is all these silly, crazy holidays we celebrated. And it all goes back to Psalm um, 118 24. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. And we can rejoice in his love every day, hopefully by showing love to our children.
I love that. Julie, I am a big fan of the holidays as well. Um, my husband was a pastor for years, like 34 years. And so I was worried that our kids were going to grow up and hate Christmas Eve because we had so many Christmas Eve services. So I just went out of my way. To make Christmas Eve fun. They got new pajamas Christmas Eve. Santa always came while we were at church and filled their stockings. And I always went prepared with candy canes or whatever. And now that the kids are adults, I ask them, like, did you resent Christmas Eve? They're like, no, mom. That was one of our absolute favorite holidays, even though sometimes they had to go to four services. So there's ways to make parenting and motherhood fun. And I agree with you, Julie, that, um I love that verse. This is the day the Lord has made. I'm going to rejoice and be glad in it and passing that on to our kids because I think you've done such a great job of showing us that motherhood and connecting with our kids can be so much fun. So, Julie, before we wrap up in a minute, I'm going to ask you to pray over our mamas who are listening. But how can our listeners connect with you? Because I know they're going to want to do that after hearing this podcast. Where can they find you?
Well, thank you very much. I have, uh, a website. It's Julielavinder Rights.com. Uh, it's very simple to remember. Um, and I'm on most social media, um, uh, Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. And, um, I would love to connect. I love talking to moms. I love talking about home schooling, about I used to be a former teacher about teaching, about writing. But I especially love to talk with moms. Uh, I'm on a little bit of the other side of it. And there are days the only advice I might give is, you can do this. And there are other days we might just celebrate all the fun that they've had that day. Uh, but it really is the best job I've ever had.
Yeah, I love that. And so as far as you mamas who are listening, I know you would love to win a copy of Julie's book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child. And so we're going to give away two copies of the book in order to win. We need you to post something about the Connected Mom podcast and tag me, Becky Harling in your post. We'll see that. And then we're going to choose two winners for this book by Julie Lavender. We know you're going to want to win it, so we'll mail it to your house. We'll get in touch with you. So I hope you'll do that and give us some type of review on Google podcast, apple Podcast, Spotify, or Player FM. Um, we love having these conversations about motherhood, and we really want you to feel like we're in it with you. So, Julie, to close us out, would you just pray over all the mamas who have been listening today that they would be encouraged that they would know their loved and that their kiddos would know their love?
Yes, I surely will. I'd be honored to dear God, we thank you so much just for life and for each new day that you give us. It truly is a gift. We thank you for the opportunity to be moms, Lord, however that comes about with biological children, adopted children, fostered children. Maybe we're just that favorite aunt or that favorite grandma, but we do thank you for the opportunity to be able to love on children, lord, help us always remember how huge your love is for us and help us to be able to convey that to our children. God. Motherhood is hard. It's harder than ever it feels like in this day and age. And just give us the strength to be able to get through each day. Some days are harder than others. But help us treasure those moments, Lord. Help us treasure those moments. Add them to our memory bank and just grow closer and closer to our children each day and help us to draw them to you through everything we do. In your name we pray. Amen.
Amen. Hey friends, thanks for listening today to the connected mom podcast and we hope you're going to join us again next Thursday where we'll have another episode go live of the connected mom podcast. Until then, know that we're on your team and we want to connect with you. Thanks so much for joining us.