2020 had me scrambling for many ways to ensure that I stayed connected to my kiddos. Throughout the year, I sourced activities, made sure we were creative, exercised, and were mindful together. Some things worked, some didn't.
And while I was ok with that, 2020 certainly was not a year where my children's oh-so-common one-word answers satisfied my parental desire to know how they were coping with everything that was going on in their lives:
"How are you feeling"?
"What's on your mind"?
THAT drove me crazy. And it worried me. How could I know whether this lack of communication was just 'normal' or whether it was a reaction to a feeling that the effects of this pandemic had on them?
There was a particular point a couple of weeks ago where I truly worried. Josephine (8) was getting quieter and quieter, and something was bothering her, but she would not (could not) share what it was. No matter how much I asked about it or tried to get information playfully, all I got was "fine," "good," "nothing." This went on for days.
I sat for a while, contemplating what to do. I then remembered something wonderful: a tool that would hopefully not only help Joséphine and I communicate better right now, but that would encourage a more in-depth, long-lasting conversation.
When I was a little girl, my mother created a journal to write back and forth to each other. Whenever I wanted to share a thought, concern, or question, I would write it down and then place it under her pillow. She would answer my question/ add to it/start a new conversation, etc., thereby encouraging a meaningful exchange. She would then place the journal under my pillow.
For years, this went on: even after I had moved out, I always made sure I brought the journal home when I visited. I would write a few words and put the journal under her pillow before my departure. She would do the same whenever she visited me. We now have journal entries from Florence, Paris, New York, London, Munich, and Newport Beach.
Journaling helped us remain connected on a deeper level for several reasons:
it was a confidential conversation, something solely between the two of us
it was a judgment-free zone where we could express ourselves openly (without interference from nosy siblings)
it encouraged more extensive conversations that often went beyond the initial question/ concern
So I suggested a Mummy and Me journal to Joséphine all I can say is: it worked.
She is writing and sharing and loving this form of confidential and honest communication. I make sure that I ask at least one question to continuously keep the conversation flowing and I always make sure never to correct her spelling.
I have learned so much about what concerns Joséphine in recent weeks, what her worries, dreams, and hopes are. We write, we draw, we doodle, and then wait - in anticipation - for the other person to reply.
Joséphine and I prefer a simple lined journal - a blank canvas for all the future conversations to come.
But if you are looking for a more interactive journal with suggestions and templates for a creative exchange, there are many lovely "Mummy and me" journals out there, such as the
As Joséphine has been writing more and more, she is feeling the benefits of putting her pen to paper. Sharing is no longer uncomfortable or embarrassing but a joyful activity that creates unity and trust. Plus, it's so much fun!
Try this with your child and you will be amazed!
Lots of love,