Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Living in the Moment with Our Kids
My son in this photo is 2.5. Yesterday he was a newborn I was meeting for the first time. Tomorrow he'll be six, then ten, then fifteen. My 12.5 year old is knocking on the door to becoming a teenager when I could swear just yesterday she was five and beginning the adventure of school and growing up.
I adore my kids, but somedays being a mother is exhausting. So I take the kids to the library and read a book rather than interact with them. Or we go to the park and out comes my phone so I can catch up on something. And of course, that's the day when there's a challenge to moms to get out of our phones and notice our kids. Ironic timing.
So how can we balance being present for our kids with the need to refill?
1) Remember parenting is a season. My kids need me intensely now, but I'm beginning to see that pulling away happening. I try to live with a willingness to drop what I'm doing -- I'm terrible at this most days, but I want to get better. To stop and plane trains with the 2 year old. Encourage the art pursuits of my almost 5 year old. Enjoy the nonstop conversations with my 9.5 year old. And be available at 11 p.m. for my 12 year old. All too soon, this season will end, and I'm told I'll look back with longing :-)
2) Listen to your kids. Actively engage with them. Get on the level of the little kids. Make eye contact with the older kids. I desperately want my soon to be teenagers to come to me when they need to talk. For that to happen, I need to be present and available now. Even when it's inconvenient or I'm tired.
3) Encourage conversation and family time. Dig out the board games, read a good book together, create something together. Work together around the house. Go for a bike ride. Even when they don't always want to participate, they'll remember those moments.
Parenting is tough. But I know it will be worth it. How do you engage with the kids in your lives? How did you parents do a great job with you?