We want our kids to feel the Spirit. We want to feel the Spirit ourselves. The Spirit can breathe hope and energy and peace into our lives, our homes, our relationships. I want God to guide our family, but I feel like too often life can become about getting from one task to the next. And I forget to ask myself how I can bring the Spirit into a given situation, how God can guide us through a problem, or how we can have peace during frustration and anger. So I’ve compiled this list of ideas. I hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.
1 Start the Day Right
I am amazed at the power that this has in our home. For the longest time I could not figure out why weekends were the worst days of the week for the moods in our house. I thought it was because we didn’t have a consistent schedule, but I’m realizing it’s probably the one part of our schedule that we’re missing which has the biggest impact: our morning devotional.
Our devotional is pretty simple. I read The Friend while the kids eat breakfast. This is soooo worth it. I am always amazed by the impact a few short stories that turn our hearts to Christ will do for our spirits through the rest of the day. Lately, I’m trying to incorporate our Becoming Guide into devotional, too.
2 Engage in Spiritual Activities More Often
Little kids have short attention spans, and to be honest, so do I (anyone else feel their attention span decrease since being met with a thousand tiny needs every hour and unlimited updates on technology?). While that’s something that we can improve upon, I also choose to meet us where we’re at. I try to have short bursts of spiritual learning more frequently.
This is going to look different for everyone. Don’t get discouraged, just find small snippets of time that work for you. Not all of these happen every day for us, but a few things that we do to invite the Spirit throughout the day:
I read my scriptures while I eat or during quiet time.
I listen to a General Conference talk, devotional, or spiritual podcast (I love Spiritually Minded Mom).
I tell the kids about something I learned in the scriptures. Or I ask them a question about God.
I teach a gospel principle. This is usually an object lesson or role play. When they are struggling with a principle like kindness, sharing, etc. I will pray and ponder for ideas on how to help them and the Spirit will direct me in how to best teach the principle for them.
We recite our memorization scripture of the week and read the scriptures as a family.
We listen to spiritual music.
3 Learn How Your Family Members Feel the Spirit Best
This is the most powerful thing I have learned the past month. It has entirely shifted my perspective. I highly recommend this interview with Bonnie H. Cordon, talking about how to help your kids feel the Spirit. Some of you may have seen it referenced on January’s Becoming Guide. In the interview there are so many great ideas for helping your kids learn to recognize the Holy Ghost. She also talks about how our learning styles can affect how we feel God and recognize truth.
After listening to this interview a couple times, I had a few discussions with my kids about how they feel the Spirit. They are all under eight, so it took about three separate discussions to get some solid answers from them. I’ve also taken time to figure out their learning styles. This is pretty easy to do if you are paying attention. There are quizzes online, but I find that for young kids, just being aware of learning styles and then observing your kids is the best way to figure it out. I shared one of my experiences with this on Instagram.
There is some debate about how many learning styles there are, etc. I think the best thing you can do is pray for guidance and pay attention to your kids. I remember one time I was giving my kids a little lesson and my little 3-year-old daughter was bouncing around and fidgeting and playing with things, and I thought she wasn’t listening, so I talked mostly to my oldest. Well, when I asked a question she piped up with a perfect paraphrase of what I had just explained. That was the beginning of my realization that she learns best while she’s doing something. God can help you have those “aha” moments too. If you pray for help, his Spirit will help you notice things about your family members that will help you teach them.
How does this translate to creating a spiritual environment? Take what you know about them, experiment, pray and try to do more of what works and expand what works into more. So. I know that my daughter loves doing things with her hands, I know that she is a quick gross motor learner because she was an early roller, crawler, and walker. She doesn’t like books without pictures. And then I thought about when she is happiest: when she’s helping. And then I asked her about what helps her feel the Spirit best: serving and watching scripture videos. (We watch Bible videos or Book of Mormon videos.) So my plan to create a spiritual environment for her is to invite her to help more, find ways for her to do service for neighbors and siblings, get some embroidery materials so she can embroider a temple picture, use more videos when teaching the Gospel, let her play with things while we read scriptures, and create active games for discussing gospel principles.
For my oldest, I know that he is a visual and auditory learner. He remembers almost everything that he sees and hears. He is slow to try new things, taking time to observe as much as he can. He has laser focus on anything visually stimulating, and he often asks me about things that I’m listening to or talking about with other people. I asked him when he feels the Spirit: when he prays and reads the scriptures. So my plan for him is to listen to scriptures and spiritual talks and podcasts within earshot of him while he’s doing quiet activities, continue our current study techniques, put more gospel art in his room, and encourage him to pray more.
Our small home is becoming a more peaceful place where we have great spiritual experiences because of the things we are trying. I’d love to hear what works in your small home.