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happy family habits #1 : Share YOUR STORY with the kids

New Series: Happy Family Habits

Last week something kind of remarkable happened to me.  I had one of those rare days where everything just seemed to be flowing. The kids and I were connecting, I was getting stuff accomplished without feeling frazzled or distracted, and the whole day through I felt… happy.  It was so wonderful that once the kids were in bed that night I sat down and took a few minutes to reflect on what we’d done differently that day to make it so.

In fact, since starting the Raising Happiness program, I find myself doing quite a bit of reflecting on what makes our family happy.  It’s my firm belief that happiness is something that can be taught to our kids – and is also something that needs to be practiced.  Happiness is, quite simply, a state of mind.

Furthermore, I believe, from practicing gratitude to carving out one-on-one time with the kids, there are intentional things families can do to be more happy together. So today we’re announcing a new series here on MPMK: Happy Family Habits.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit (side note: research has actually shown that this number probably varies quite a bit from person to person but it’s nice and tidy for our purposes so we’re going with it). Here’s the plan – every 21 days Kristin and I are going to post a new “Happy Family Habit”.  The MPMK team will weigh in on ways we’re planning to form said habit and the rest is up to you.

I’ll do my best to remind you over the following 3 weeks to keep up your new happiness practice and at the end of that time we’ll reconvene to compare progress and start on a new habit.  Ready to get started?



photo credits: Kristin Eldridge Photography

Our first habit is to start sharing your story.  What does that mean?  Try to get into the practice of talking to your littles about your own childhood.  This is an excellent way to relate to kids of all ages as it helps them to realize that you’ve been in their shoes.  It also makes your kids feel special when you trust them with your most embarrassing, exciting, and even scary experiences.

Here’s Kristin with more on the idea…

Photos are my love language and pulling out a photo album with my children can help me remember stories about my childhood. Sometimes the stories are funny, but sometimes they are just to show the kids that they’re not alone in what they’re going through. When my oldest got into braces, my husband found a picture of him with braces (and head gear!). Seeing our boy smile through the tears of those first few days in braces was so sweet.

Another way I’m incorporating stories from my childhood is to bring them up when we are around relatives. My brother, sisters and parents will all chime in and the stories tend to build on each other. I notice my kids asking lots of questions and really getting into the idea that we were all kids just like them. And we got into the kinds of trouble they do!

When kids are younger, the idea of you being anything other than a mom is a hard concept to grasp. But as they grow, hearing your childhood stories builds trust and respect. They begin to understand that you are parenting them from a place of wisdom. We’ve walked the same road they are on today.

I hope you’ll join us of over the next few weeks and pull some of those stories out of the vault. It takes work to purposefully weave these into every day life in a genuine way, but it’s so worth the effort. Remember as kids turn into teens, we want to keep being relatable and keep them talking. We’re building the foundation that will ease them into adulthood.

As I said, now it’s on you.  Start thinking of a story to share at bedtime tonight, or go dig up that old photo album in the garage, and the next time your kiddo is sad, try to think of a relevant experience from your own childhood to share.  Holidays are also a really easy way to share.  Think back to those days when you couldn’t wait for the Easter bunny to visit your house and tell your kids a story about how you felt. Ready? Go!

P.S. If you’d like to try the Raising Happiness eCourse by Dr. Christine Carter of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, you can register here and use the code MPMK10 for 10% off any of the 1 month modules (use code Messy10 for 10% off the full 32 week course).

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You can also view our MPMK Continuing Ed Course Catalog which contains our full review of the Raising Happiness courses, as well as info. on our preferred courses for nutrition, parenting, finances, and more.

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Kristin is a former teacher turned children’s photographer in southern California. Visit her website to read all about her adventures in photography, cooking, and her love of style.