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The Big Picture

My Top Ten for a Happy Family

Once again, the end of the year is staring me in the face.  I thought I would begin to bid farewell a little early by compiling my top ten lists of, well, everything.  Here is the first that came to mind. 

Top Ten Essentials for a Happy Family

10.  Red Sox baseball. Just kidding; I'm a big fan and with their World Series win last night, I couldn't resist. 

10.  A Clean(ish) Orderly(ish)  House.  This is last on my list because, while it certainly helps, it is just not as important as most people think. Someone told me not long ago they keep their house clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy. It's my new motto. 

9.  Be Flexible.  Home is where you learn how to get along with people-- the give and take, the ebb and flow.  If you can instill compromise in your kids at home, you are instilling it for their classrooms, college roommates, the workforce and marriage. A frequent reminder that no one is right all the time is a good thing.  

8. Fun.  This is my husband's department, hence the nickname Captain Fun. When we lived in Vermont and upstate New York, he forced me outside to play in the snow. When we lived in Florida, he dragged us all to the beach almost every weekend.  (We won't live here forever, he said.  He was right.)  So far in Virginia, we have been apple picking, firework watching, hiking, zooing, boating, and to at least two museums.  I'm tired.  But I know our family would not be as happy as it is without the Captain's nose for fun.  

7. Perseverance.  One of the first magazine articles I ever wrote was called "No Quitting in the Middle."  The editor renamed it "Built to Last" and it is still out there in cyber-land. The gist of it is that once you start something, be it a board game or a soccer season, you finish it.  I am hoping that as they move on to bigger things like careers and marriage, they will keep that commitment to, well, commitment.  

6. Share the work.  Every night as dinner ends, someone usually asks, "Is it boys' night, or girls' night?"  They take turns with the dishes, Ben takes out the trash, Emma unloads the dishwasher, Cory cuts the grass, Mary changes the litter box, Dorothy sorts the silverware, and Silas picks up after Hope.  And each one is in charge of one room of the house, besides their own.  Yes, I still do most of the work, but instilling a sense of family responsibility is crucial. (Mom Dot would fuss at me if I fail to tell you that she folds the laundry.)

5. Follow the Rules.  Rules are our friends, I tell my children from the time they are very young. If the sign says "wet paint" don't touch it; don't sneak food into the theater, cell phones sleep in my room and, no, it's not okay for parents to host underage drinking.  It's i-l-l-e-g-a-l, and there's a reason for that. Keep the rules and the rules will keep you. 

4. Grace. Grace is defined as "a sense of propriety and consideration for others." It's the standard at our house. If you want Mom to turn into a freight train, just call one of your siblings stupid or tell them to shut up.  Home is a place where mistakes are allowed, and we stick together because we are a family.  As Mama use to say, If you can't say something nice...

3. Peace. The Captain and I agreed long ago that we would keep arguments out of earshot of the kids. "You and Dad make it look so easy," Bethany once told me. After 27 years of marriage it is pretty easy, but it was challenging at times when we were younger and still getting to know each other. But we have an agreement and try very hard to keep it: kids deserve a peaceful home.  

2. Clear Roles. Parents are parents, kids are kids; don't confuse the two. A happy home requires parents who aren't trying to be the kids (or the kids' best friends). Kids cannot raise themselves, therefore making parents are necessary.

1. Faith.  I became a Christian when I was nine years old-- and by that I mean nothing less than trusting Christ to save me because I cannot save myself.  Being a good person to get into Heaven has never made sense to me. (If that is enough, after all, why did Jesus have to die?)  Just about every night before bed (and I give the Captain full credit for this) the Sims family gathers and reads a portion of Scripture. 

Daily, and without apology, we teach our children that faith in Christ is everything. We uphold Him as the bedrock of our household; not just a reason, but as the reason for our happy family.    

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.   
                                                                     Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NKJV)

4 Comments to My Top Ten for a Happy Family :

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Maggie Swanke on Thursday, October 31, 2013 2:39 PM
Love love love the list! Well, I love any list, but this one is really great....who does not love (both) #10s??!! The single tear comes from the fact that I cannot access all of your "don't quit in the Middle" article....such a better title than Built to last, BTW, because its in the middle that one is tempted to quit and when one wonders if its built to last!! Margie, you are an inspiration! Love you!
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Debbie on Friday, November 01, 2013 3:05 AM
You are a smart little sister! Lots of those lessons learned the hard way growing up! Love you so much!
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Tracey Fritz Smith on Monday, November 04, 2013 4:58 PM
It's always awesome to read things you wrote. My sons are grown and out of the house. I wish I would have had been stronger when it came to some of your rules. I hate to admit that I learned to "pick my battles" more than I should have, but I am lucky to have ended up with two good men! It warms my heart to know that my hubby and I decided to keep our disagreements to ourselves in a healthy fashion, at least I hope I did. I do have to say that I have watched my older son as he started dating the sweet girls that became his wife. They are so full of love for the Lord, their mission church and each other. Now they have given me a grandson that I so fortunate enough to spend time with by taking care of him when I am needed. I definitely need to keep up with your blogs. I worked outside the home when I had kids. Now that I am "retired", I hope that my grandson and any future grandchildren to come, will benefit from things I have read in your blog. I don't think I will ever forget the first time I saw you at our 10th reunion. I told you that I had thought of you so many times and you said something like when I think of someone, God has put that person in my heart to say a prayer for.

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