Growing up, my mom was always my best friend. I always felt close to her and could tell her anything. I crave that same bond with my own daughter. I want her to feel so special, and so loved. I want her to know her mommy is her biggest fan. I want her to talk openly with me and feel comfortable knowing I’ll always listen to her. I’m finding that the best way to create this bond is to just be together.
It doesn’t take a lot of money or a lot of thought, but what it does take is my time. The greatest gift you can give anyone is your full attention and your time.
We live in a time where we spend more time on our phones, computers or other devices than we do sharing eye contact and making memories. I can’t think of a time, when I was a child, looking at my mom and seeing her zoned out the phone or computer. It just wasn’t a thing back then. But how often do our kids look at us and see that our full attention is on our phone? We are great at limiting their screen time and blocking what they see, but how well do we limit our own screen time? There are so many screens in our lives; the TV, the phone, the iPad, the iPod, and all the little gadgets and electronics that we can be consumed with. Our parents didn’t face this problem to the extent that we do.
This is something I struggle with, if I’m being completely honest. It’s hard to quiet my mind sometimes or to just put everything down and have no distractions.
Maybe the problem isn’t just technology. Maybe it’s worrying about keeping a clean household, or finishing all your work. Maybe it’s your gym schedule or your make up and hair routine. Maybe it’s running from play date to play date or karate to swim to gymnastics! We are all together way too busy trying to do everything.
One day, I noticed my daughter, Brynn, was particularly agitated. She kept whining and grabbing at me for everything. It was 9am and I already was losing my patience. Her big brother, Brax, was at school so this was my time to run errands. I needed to do laundry, clean, try to fit in a workout and prep some dinners for the week. “Come on Brynn, give me a few minutes pleaaaaase,” I whined back at her. When I stopped and heard the sound of my voice, I realized I was throwing a fit right back at her. Don’t we do that sometimes? Throw our own fits! I may not have done a body slam onto the floor and cried like kids do, but I came close! I wanted to do what I wanted to do.
LIGHT BULB MOMENT.
I realized, she’s only fussing cause she wants to do what she wants to do!
So I stopped, pulled my fit together and became an adult again, bent down, hugged her and said, “Brynn bunny, what do you want to do right now?”
Her fit stopped instantly, she looked at me with a sparkle in her eye and joy in her heart and she jumped up and hugged me so tight I almost fell over. She grabbed my hand and said, “Namir” (it’s her way of saying “come here”). Then she walked me to the door and said, “go on a walk with mommy, pweeeease.”
She loves when we go in nature walks and talk about what we see in the great outdoors; birds, trees, flowers, airplanes and more! How could anyone say no to her excited face? Sometimes I just need to STOP for a moment, DROP what I’m doing, and GO along with my children….
I left my phone at home on purpose, left all my to-dos on the list for a later time, didn’t care that my hair messy and we walked. We laughed. We shared sweet moments that would have been lost forever and never gotten back if I chose my tasks over my baby girl. I know she’s only 2 and won’t remember or care that the laundry wasn’t done or the dishes were in the sink. She may not even remember our walk, but she will feel the love stamped on her heart. She will feel important to her mom. She will feel secure and confident in herself one day knowing that her needs matter to me. The bond we are making now will be engraved in her heart forever. I like to picture us going on walks when she’s older and she will open up to me about bigger things in her life.
My kids THRIVE when I take them outside and kick the ball around, or go on a nature walk. Just being. Just looking. Just learning. Just breathing.
It’s easy to get caught up in the to-dos and the tasks of right now. It’s easy to think we need to sign our kids up in endless activities so they’ll be well rounded. It’s easy to put pressure on ourselves to do it all.
Might I suggest, that doing it all will get us nowhere. It’s doing less but doing it well that creates success. Spending one on one time with each child and learning who they are. Asking them what they want to do and watch them take the lead. Getting down on their level and belly laughing with them.
Kids find joy in all the small things, we really could learn from that.
After all, one day I will be throwing a fit for my daughter’s attention and wanting to talk. Maybe she will be the one on her phone (if phones haven’t morphed into something even crazier by then. Like a device that’s implanted into our hand and we never have to put it down!) I hope and pray that she will put her busy teenage cares down every once in a while to tend to me. Until then, I’m going to model the behavior I hope she chooses. I choose relationships. I choose connection. I choose love. I choose her smile.