I like every parent wants the best for their children and often wonder how I can best nurture a relationship with them that will allow them to trust me to know what is best for them. I know as I grew older I certainly didn't think my mother knew anything, but truth be told if I had listened to her wisdom and advice I would have saved myself from untold heartache and pain.
The thought came for me a while ago that in order to develop the kind of relationship I desired with my children I needed to be present in their day. It seems simple enough right? But what does that actually mean?
For myself it meant that I needed to become apart of my childrens world instead of just bringing them along for the ride in my world. So often I would just drag Auron around the shops looking at everything I wanted to look at, and quickly calling him away whenever he stopped to look at something that interested him because I was in a rush to carry on with my own agenda.
Yesterday for example I needed to go into town to pick a few things up. All I wanted to do was get to the shopping centre, do what I had to and then get home. We got 2 mins down the road and Auron decided he wanted to get out of the pram and walk. Usually I would insist he stay in the pram, but this time I let him get out. Our usual 20min walk ended up being a full hours walk but I assure you it was worth it. We stopped to look at weird looking sticks, pointed out numbers on mail boxes, and practised crossing the street safely. By the time we reached the shopping centre he was ready to hop in the pram for a rest. If I had have made him stay in the pram at the start I would have most like spent the entire walk arguing with him to stay in the pram and we both would have arrived at the shops frazzled and upset.
Here are some other ways I have found to be present in your child's day
- When you have a whining upset child, skip the housework and sit down to read a book, or do an activity with them.
- Try to say "yes" as often as you can.
- Turn off the TV/iPad/Phone for an hour and devote that time to simply being present with your kids
- Make parent/child dates a part of you routine.
- Get out photo albums and tell stories and reminisce as you browse through the memories
- Surprise your kids with something fun. Eg a trip to the pools, ice cream parlour, a water slide in the back yard etc
- Spend time each night sitting with them on their bed to talk about their day/reading a book/reconnecting
- Write them a little letter or quick note to tell them your favourite things about them
- Take time to ask them what shops they would like to go to at the shopping centre
- Learn a new skill together. Take your teenagers to a night class eg Pottery/cooking/something boy-ish that I can't think of right now
- Instead of just giving them a new activity to play with get in there and enjoy it with them
- When little ones are talking to you, get down on their level and look at them when they speak.
- If things are getting crazy, just stop count to 10 and start again. Don't let things escalate into utter chaos
- Teach them to cook, some of the best and most important conversations will happen while you are cooking together.
- Remember it's ok to get dirty and to make a mess. Those things can be cleaned up in no time but memories, and relationships will last a lifetime.