The girls have been home 3 months. It has been even more incredible than I ever imagined. I have started writing down some adoption pearls and maybe they are just parenting pearls in general since both came for the first time for us. This is by far not everything but they have been priorities for us over the past 3 months.They are in no particular order but maybe they will help another walking the journey..
1. Invest in your marriage. Make it a priority. Go on dates. Regularly.
2. Keep water bottles available at all times. Everyone in the home should be drinking at least half their body weight in ounces per day. Don't do cokes/ sugary fruit juice/ powerade/ or gatorades.
3. Let your friends do a meal train for you. It is one of the biggest blessings to be able to enjoy fellowship with your kids without having to cook for a while.
4. Limit screen time :TV/ computer to 30-60 min/ day or less with a family movie night 1x/ week. Movie night is the highlight of our girl's week especially with me being back to work now. Don't let them use your cell phones/ I-pads to play games, etc at least at first. This will teach them important social skills and to engage with others around them.
5. Eat 3 meals/ 2 snacks/ day. Protein every time. Limit carbs, simple sugars. This will keep blood sugars from being on a roller coaster all day and impacts behavior, emotions, and energy levels.
6. Prepare them with a schedule before it happens as best as you can. Life happens and they have to learn flexibility but they do so much better with honesty and if you just let them know exactly what was going to happen. This was crucial with Mabel's surgery for both girls.
7. Give positive reinforcement. Both of my girls were starved for attention when they came. Not because they didn't come from wonderful homes but this was the first time they had experienced regular one on one time. It was very important for us to make an extra effort to give attention to positive behaviors so the negative ones didn't suck all of the attention away. Kids are smart. If they realize more attention is being given over a poor behavior, they will act out to receive attention in one way or another.
8. Observe the Sabbath. Pull away from your daily routine once a week. 52 times a year and be together doing something you love. "Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."- Mark 2:27
9. Bend down to listen. Get on their level. (Psalm 166:2) Please remember eye contact is shameful in some cultures so teaching this may take awhile. Be patient!
10. Consistent bed-time routine. This is crucial! Kids should be getting 9+ hours/ night. Try to turn down all lights (lamps only if possible) 1-2 hours before bed. Try to follow circadian rhythms of going to bed and waking up with sun. We didn't use to have alarm clocks. NO screens in bed rooms. Go to bathroom before bed.
11. Acknowledge their past. Life started before they were yours, even if it was just 9 months in the womb. I could write a whole lot about this. But, when you acknowledge past, you extend grace more freely. You understand lying, withdrawal, and manipulative behaviors much easier.
12. Simplify. Slow down. Life is not an emergency.
13. Say yes when you can.
14. Protect your attachment. One of the hardest things for us to do was ask our closest friends and family (even grandparents at first) to not hold our girls... yes to not hold their first grandbabies. But it was SO important for their attachment to us (especially me as their only "mommy"). They came from a very maternal society as most are and in the first few weeks- months, they would have gone home with any woman giving them affection. If we disciplined them, they would run to the next woman for comfort and it was very important to set those boundaries up front. We want them to fully bond with others, especially our parents but it was so important to establish roles as consistent parents.
15. Read to them every day. They are sponges.