As in, gave them your FULL attention and made them feel special?
It doesn’t take much, but it can be hard to do, especially if you have more than one child, are a single parent, or spend a lot of time solo-parenting.
I had a doctor’s appointment a few days ago, and I had a baby-sitter scheduled to watch the kids. I decided at the last minute to take my daughter with me, just to make things easier for the baby-sitter and to give me some alone time with her.
You know what?
She thought it was a blast! Now, she is only 4, so she’s certainly not hard to please, but it was all in how I presented it too. I made the ordinary feel extra-ordinary, so she bought into it, felt special, and we both had a great time.
“Hey, I have a quick appointment that I thought you might like to join me on. Afterwards, we can go shopping by ourselves. I am hoping you can help me choose….” vs “You’re going to come with me to my appointment. Then, we’re running to the grocery store.”
Now, I’d be careful with the “secretive” phrasing, but what I mean is letting them see another side of you, or doing something you don’t normally do. For us, that was a, “Hey, should we roll the windows down and crank up the music?” That was met with an enthusiastic “Yes! Let’s do that! (brief pause) What does crank up the music mean?” So, I told her what it is and that it’s something I like to do and she was all for it. Simple and free fun! Making the ordinary feel extra-ordinary and special. 🙂
As much as you can, make it about your child. Now, a doctor appointment and grocery shopping so that we had dinner and food for the next day isn’t exactly anything fun or about the 4 year old, but I let her pick out the snacks and lunch for the next day.
She asked if we could get a special treat at the store, so I let her pick out some candy for us to share. I topped it off with a “soda” (sparkling water) for us to share and she felt so big, so important, and told me how much fun it was.
To me, it was a trip to the doctor and a trip to the store. No big deal. It would have qualified as a mini-vacation if I’d left her at home and went out by myself.
But, I’m so glad that I invited her to go with me, as it was fun for me too (no sitting on my phone while waiting; instead making a game of flipping through the magazines), and investing in our relationship is important. And, I truly did have fun with her, even if she did ask to be carried into the store. Can’t blame her! She usually doesn’t get to do that anymore because her brother is younger than her. Yes, at 4, she’s possibly a bit “old” to be carried, but how much longer will she really want me to carry her? I am going to seize those opportunities when I can!
So, please, at least once a day, just put down your phone (or your work, or whatever you’re doing that’s taking your attention away from your kids). Look your kids in the eyes and give them your full attention. I know you’re busy. But, they’re only this little once and they need the reminders that we love them, and they’re special and important to us. Take a few minutes to give them your undivided attention (The Academy has activities for toddlers and preschoolers, making this super easy to do!). Spend a few minutes having fun, enjoying your child’s company, listening and truly hearing them. Your future relationship with your child will thank you!
Connie Deal is a former classroom teacher and the mom of 2 little ones. She runs a local co-op for parents of toddlers and preschoolers, does preschool at home, and enjoys sharing her activities with other moms so much that she created a program for it- The Academy from Lessons and Learning for Littles, and recently published two books- Learning with Yoga (available on Amazon) and Learning at Home. Connie is crazy organized and loves spending time outside. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as @LessonsAndLearningForLittles and at ConnieDeal.com