I’m a busy mom. Of course, I believe all moms are busy moms, because being a mom isn’t a task that you can put on hold or that is ever completed. Being a mom will never be checked off a to-do list. It is a constant job. It is also quite often a joyful one, but that doesn’t change the simple facts of our overworked, over scheduled, and overwhelmed lives. And that means that sometimes our kids experience us as less than what we want to be for them.
And that can really hurt both ourselves and our children.
I can’t tell you how often I have sat back and taken a look at what’s going on in a moment and felt the sinking sense that I am falling far short of what I want to be as a parent. I don’t want my daughter’s experience of me to be rushing from moment to moment, too caught up in working for the future or stuck in the past to really be there for her in the present. And kids are so wonderfully adept at being truly present in ways that adults often lose sight of.
So, here are some keys ways to pull yourself back into the present with your child:
Get down on their level
Imagine if you had to tilt your head back and peer way up every time you wanted to communicate with someone. It would be frustrating and potentially lonely. Get down on the floor and experience the world at their eye line, and connect with them where they are.
Engage with them on their terms
I’m a planner, but I don’t expect my daughter to conform to my tendencies. So, when I get on the floor with her, I ask what she wants to do or try to join her in her play. She always welcomes me!
Believe me, I know it’s hard to put the smart phone or tablet down sometimes – it seems like our lives are interwoven with those little devices in so many ways. But setting it aside – or, better yet, turning it off – for just an hour won’t cause your life to come unraveled. It will still be there when you pick it back up. Giving your child an hour of your time will bring far more value to your day. And, it’s the perfect set up to ask your child on a lunch date!
Stop and ask yourself how your child sees you in that moment. Do you believe it reflects how you want them to see you? If not, what can you do to bring the two visions in line with each other?
Tell your little one a story
I’m not talking about reading to them (although that’s also a wonderful way to connect!) tell them a story. About how they came into your life, about why you chose their name, about something from your own childhood, or about something you love about them. Kids are ever hungry to be the focus of our attention and this is a beautiful way to show them how they are, even in ways they may not see.
Let some chores wait
My mother has a throw pillow in her house with the following inscribed upon it:
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.
In that spirit, ask yourself – does the laundry have to be done right now? Can the dishes wait until later tonight?