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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?

HAPPY FAMILY HABIT #1: SHARE YOUR STORY

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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.

*Post contains affiliate links

 

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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.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann @ The Scrapbooking Housewife March 28, 2013 at 7:13 am

This is fantastic! :D My daughter asks often for stories of our childhood, she just loves hearing them. My only problem is my memory isn’t so good anymore! LOL! But bringing out the old photo albums sure helps! Looking forward to following this series!

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Glad you’re as excited for the series as we are – we’ve got lots of good stuff in store!

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kristin eldridge photography March 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

You’re right Ann…sometimes it does take a photo to trigger that memory!

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gina March 28, 2013 at 9:06 am

I love this idea! My son is in the stage of saying “When you were little did you have to eat all your veggies” “When you were little were you afraid sometimes” When you were little….”
I never thought of sharing old pics – sounds like a great thing to do this weekend!

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

My kids are in that same “when you were little…” stage. I think it came from us trying to share our story more.

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Lisa West March 28, 2013 at 9:45 am

wonderful, thank you so much for sharing! We need to stay focused on “happiness” and the joys of life. I’ll look forward to the next thought in 21days! Lisa

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Looking forward to having you along with us Lisa.

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Marnie March 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Love!! We just returned from my home in Maine. One night I snuck out with a friend and returned home to get the opportunity to listen outside my door as my mother told stories to my 4 year old about his mama. He was curious and engaged…oral storytelling is sadly a lost art! Thank you for this post! ~ Marnie

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kristin eldridge photography March 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm

You’re right Marnie! Oral storytelling is a lost art. I try to ask questions of my grandparents, so I’m able to pass on stories, like how they met.

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 7:30 pm

That such a great idea Kristin. I have a great aunt who just turned 100 (!) – I’d love to get more of her stories to pass on.

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Gina March 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Is the code only valid on that module – I wanted to use it for the Nag Less Coach More but there isnt any place to enter a code

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I’m looking into it Gina, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Hi Gina,

Looks like it’s working now. Go here and use the code MPMK10 for 10% off :).

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Gina March 29, 2013 at 7:34 am

Thanks Steph! I just signed up!

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Stacey March 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm

What a great idea! I took the Raising Happiness class quite awhile ago now. I will be very happy for some reminders.

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mpmk March 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Did you do all 32 weeks Stacey?!

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D Bond April 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

So I have a question: This sounds like a good idea, but hat do you do if your story isn’t a happy one? That’s as simple as I can get it; my childhood and growing up was not good and some days I’m surprised I made it. I’m ok as a person now, but it’s taken me years to come to terms with and let go of my past (childhood included). I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks

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Steph (MPMK Founder) April 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Hi there,

I think it’s OK to share the not-so-happy memories too. My father had a rough childhood as well but it was something he always talked about openly with me and it made us closer (I always felt honored that he’d share with me). Of course, you need to be mindful of what’s appropriate to share at different ages. Also, my Dad’s always had a great sense of humor and a lot of his stories were in the vain of “wait ’till you hear about this one time”.

Also, your stories don’t have to be big. It could be as simple as telling your kiddos about your favorite TV show or teacher growing up, or the first time you remember seeing snow.

Hope that helps!

~Steph

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kristin eldridge photography April 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I agree with Steph…focusing on the positives is a good start. I actually thought about this as I wrote the post. My parents also had some negative experiences growing up and they chose to make a change for us kids. It’s part of knowing their story and I am so proud of them that they were able to parent me so well, despite the way they were parented.

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Steph (MPMK Founder) April 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I totally agree with Kristin. Knowing my dad’s upbringing always made SO impressed that he could break the cycle and be such an amazing parent to me.

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