Our relationship with our children should be filled with conscious interactions, motivation for their goodness within, and energy that sends messages of love.
Too often, we become caught up in the world and all we have to do in it. Mom experts, therapists, and friends all tell us to stop worrying about the dishes, let the laundry go, and spend some quality time with our children.
I do not know any mother who does not know that and want that for herself. But, I know few moms who are actually able to do this as often as they’d like. The bottom line is – the laundry still needs to be done, the sink will eventually overflow with dirty dishes, and the house will become so cluttered it is unmanageable.
Be that as it may – we must constantly remind ourselves of the things in life that really matter. We must take steps to ensure that we give those things enough attention and that we recognize them as the treasure stones of our lives.
Here are some ideas for creating high-quality time with and for your children:
Before your children go to bed at night, spend a few moments with each child and tell them something you are proud of them for; speak of a kind moment you noticed during the day; or give them a hope you have for them for the next day. Bedtimes are often rushed and harried times. We are eager to get our children to sleep so that we can unwind from the day. This special time with your children takes thirty seconds per child and will have a lasting impact on their very being.
Create quality moments for your children. Generate valuable experiences throughout the week for your children. Set the table with a tablecloth to make breakfast a special way to start the day. Surprise them at school pick-up and take them out to ice cream. Spend alone time with one of your children while the others play.
Remind your children how “happy you are to have them in your life” – a declaration my husband frequently makes to our children. Positive feedback goes much further than harsh criticism, and – yet – loving pats on the back are less likely to come out of our mouths throughout the day. Pay attention to how you speak to your children. Try to limit the “don’t do this…”, “stop that”, and other harsh commands. Instead offer more of “I loved how you…”, “I’m so proud of…”, and “You worked so hard on…”.
Teach your children to express gratitude. Beyond the positive kudos you offer them, teach your children to be grateful for that which they have in their lives. You may want to start your meals with a word of thanks. Show them how to look beyond themselves and notice the sun setting in the sky, the majestic mountains in the distance when you pull onto your street, or the rainbow of flowers blooming in your neighbor’s garden.
Help your children understand that there are others who are not as fortunate as they are. We always keep McDonald’s gift certificates in our car so we have something to give the homeless person standing on the corner. Once the children are old enough, put together family outings that involve doing some good for someone else. Clean the hiking trail at the state park, visit a nursing home, or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Involve them. If you are overwhelmed with too much do, start with a task your children can help with. Make a game out of it and enjoy the time together. It doesn’t matter what you are doing – your children will benefit from the extra interactions and attention from you. If you have to sweep and mop the floor, for example, invite your children to put on socks and skate around, cleaning the floor.
There are many ways to create positive and nourishing interactions with and for your children. Most of them take little time but help to build your child’s lifelong confidence, their feelings of being loved, and their ability to relate to others in a positive manner.