I spend a lot of time with my kids. A lot. And because I have unlimited time with them right now– being an at-home, homeschooling, DIYmom– that must mean that I make sure the time is quality, right?
The truth is, not always. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of keeping a home, helping my husband and making sure the kids don’t eat grass or the baby doesn’t climb the stairs that sometimes it’s really easy for me to forget to stop and just focus on the child.
It’s usually then that one (or several) of them start acting out or causing trouble that I realize, that I’m spread pretty thin and I need to stop and love.
So this list is just as much a reminder to myself as it is an encouraging reminder to other moms. People aren’t always easy to love– and miniature versions of ourselves are no different!– but there are some easy ways that require a little bit of effort but go a long way in showing our children that they are special and important and loved. Because the truth is that if our children don’t find support, encouragement and love in their homes, from their family, they will search for it elsewhere.
I don’t know about you but, personally, that worries me. As parents we only have a short span of time to influence our children for good and to instill in them our values, and ultimately, our faith. Let’s try not to waste it. Here are some things we, as parents, can do:
- Read to her
There are few things so simple yet powerful as reading to your child. It’s you, pulling her into your lap, giving her your undivided attention for even just four minutes that can make her feel special. Delve into her favorite genre and you’re pretty much a superhero in her eyes.
- Find out & cater to his love language
It’s important to know that not all people experience love in the same way. Taking a little bit of your time to “learn” your child and the way he responds to your loving attempts can make all the difference in his life. It’s also a good general rule of thumb to show him love in many different ways so that he begins to recognize and appreciate each way (even though he likely responds better to 1 or 2 ways).
- Include her in as much as possible
In our hurried lives, it’s easy to push her aside while we take care of something else that’s requiring our attention. And that’s okay. But how much better would it be if we brought our child alongside of us in all that we do? Doing so not only teaches her valuable life skills but also teaches her confidence. She will remember the times that you pulled up the stool and let her cook dinner with you. And she’ll look back on those memories and smile.
- Set aside one-on-one time
If you are a mom of many this can be tough or at least appear to be tough but I’m here to tell you that one-on-one time does not have to be expensive outings or whole days alone with one of your children. One-on-one time can be spending 15-minutes painting your daughter’s nails while talking about horses or playing a board game with your son right after everyone else goes to bed. Don’t be so paralyzed with complicated (read: impossible) ideas that you miss out on the simple, here-and-now options.
- Listen to him
With most children there comes a certain age when they just love to talk. They walk around chattering about with their plans and ideas and facts. It really is a beautiful thing but after multiple hours of this, it can get a little tiresome and it’s easy for moms to crave quiet. Let me give you some advice: listen to him. Set down your phone, put down the whisk, stop folding the laundry and just listen. Listen to him talk about his Lego creations and his fort and the time he caught a ladybug and his plans for building a robot and how he got to level 8 in Mario Brothers…
- Smile & laugh with her
Smiling at her will encourage her to smile. Laughing with her will encourage further laughter. Life is short and beautiful and busy, remember to take the effort to not be too serious.
- Hug & tell him you love him
Human touch is special. So are words. Use both daily. Stop what you are doing and give him a hug. Interrupt his video games to tell him you love him and, hey, go the extra mile and tell him why you love him.
- Take an interest in what interests her
This is yet another attempt for you to “learn” your child. By watching and listening you will soon learn what makes her tick. What drives her and brings her joy. When she is young this will likely change often, keeping you on your toes. If you know she loves animals, go out of your way to teach her more about animals, take her to the zoo with some friends, read her books about koala bears and kangaroos. Use her interests to not only teach her things but to prove to her that you are, in fact, listening and that you do, really, care.
On this journey along with you,