Seriously… stop it! Slow down. It scares me how fast time flies, especially once you have kids. My girls are getting so big right before my eyes and I’m constantly reminding myself to slow down and soak up these precious years. A million special little moments to be shared with them, hopefully not missed. This isn’t a lecture to you – this is a good reminder for me and hopefully a valuable take away for all you moms out there wishing there was a pause button… and more ways to truly connect with your children.
[ 1 ] Connect before switching gears: Maybe you can relate – for a while I’d find myself so focused on our agenda for the day, sorting out every detail of our family outing and determining where I could fit in some personal productivity, that the transitions were happening way too fast. Wake up, breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, play time, lunch… before I knew it, bedtime rolled around and I felt guilty that I never truly connected with my children that day. Yes, I took them to the park, I gave them fun crafts, but I never truly sat down with them and focused on those little moments. Now I’m making a conscious effort to slow down a little and do something meaningful with my girls before moving onto the next thing. Even if that means sitting and reading a book together, cuddling on the couch for 5-10 minutes, or simply playing with them and encouraging their imaginations to go wild. The contentment I feel (and joy the girls express) when it’s time for breakfast or lunch motivated me to keep that rhythm. Not only does it help them transition a little smoother, but it gives you that special bonding time that is so incredibly important.
[ 2 ] Put the phone down: My husband and I have made it a rule (we’re working at it) to keep our phones away while we’re actively playing with the kids (unless it’s Instagram story worthy, kind of kidding, not really) and give them our full attention. Trust me, we’re not perfect parents. There were days when the girls would be sitting by us playing with their toys and asking us to join, but we would both be sitting in silence staring at our phones saying: “sure, in one minute sweetie… be right there.” After 20 minutes passed we’d still be glued to our phones. The past few months have been busier than ever with his career, my marketing business and grace + clatter… obviously there’s work to be done. But one day it hit me. I snapped out of it and absorbed what was happening and it really bothered me. Now, I’ll pick and choose the gaps + opportunities to get on my phone when the girls are either eating, enjoying playing by themselves, watching a Daniel Tiger episode, or napping, Of course I reply to messages or phone calls in the interim, but overall my phone time is more structured and limited.
[ 3 ] Details of daily living are unimportant: dirty dishes, 3 loads of impatient laundry, dusty window sills, a pre-meditated agenda… none of that matters. Think about it. When your child is 21 and potentially living elsewhere, will you be thinking about the day your laundry room was filled to the ceiling in grungy clothes, or when the sink was overflowing with last night’s dinnerware? I’m pretty sure we’ll be having mom hangouts and crying over how much we miss our kids and wish they were little again. I have daily battles with myself over this – when my touches of OCD kick in and I’m aggressively staring at the sink full of dishes while my daughter is asking me to have a picnic with her and the Paw Patrol gang, for a moment I feel torn and sweat beads start forming. Sometimes I have to lecture myself on priorities, then proceed to pour a cup of tea for Sky (the pink Paw Patrol dog).
[ 4 ] Affection: play (like you mean it), make eye contact, hug, make them laugh, and listen (but really, listen). We all know when toddlers tell stories it could take 3 days, but so be it. When they tell you stories, look into their eyes and sincerely acknowledge them. It’s so hard trying to work from home and be an attentive “good” mom. But I shower them with my love and make it known how special they are. They are priority. Personally, I can’t go a day without making them giggle. I can get really obnoxious and do weird things, but if it gets them to belly laugh then my day was a success. I often look so crazy with whatever antic I’m doing that it makes my husband laugh too (are you laughing at me… or with me)? Either way, giggles and smiles are my sunshine. It’s the little things that matter. You have the key to your child’s heart, so do the things you do to show them your love, make them smile, or make them giggle… and hug them as much as you can, even if it annoys them. We all know time flies faster than the speed of sound.
[ 5 ] Try something new [together]: my daughters love when I come up with random games or adventures. What I love most is the fun connection I have with them during those moments – seeing their excitement and fascination trying something different. Often times the simpler the better. Once I took an empty laundry basket (once… on the rare occasion a laundry basket is actually empty), laid out a blanket on the floor (as the ocean) and pretended the laundry baskets were boats. I gave them wooden spoons as paddles, and we sang “row your boat” and Moana songs on repeat for 20 minutes. Then I got so into our boating adventure, I made a “crocodile” out of green construction paper and we’d throw it in the “ocean” – the girls would scream with excitement. I’m not patting myself on the back, just hoping to give you some inspiration. Things that have worked for me. Simply put: try and get creative with your space or what’s laying around and think of what else it could be used for. It’s healthy for your child’s imagination, and if you let yourself go and completely dive into the adventure… you’d be surprised at how much fun you’ll have too.
Motherhood. Parenthood. We all have our own ways of connecting with our children. Only you know what’s best for them and what’s manageable for your lifestyle. These are just some of the ways my husband and I have been consciously trying to connect with our girls on other levels, especially when it’s been such a crazy busy 6 months… and we were getting a little too distracted.
Share your stories in the comments below – would love to hear how you connect with your little cuties (or at least your attempts)!