How can I be a more present parent? Living in a house with five children, I often find myself just going through the motions to get my check list for the day done and dusted. As we all know so well. Something urgent and unplanned for always seems to crop up as soon as we think we’re finally organized. Busy day, busy mom.
I was looking for a specific video the other day, and came across countless snippets of my children. Some were of them taking their first steps. Others of them riding their bikes for the first time. The videos just kept coming, and I couldn’t stop myself from watching. I must have spent hours “ooh’ing and aah’ing” over these little videos that captured cherished memories.
Then came the inevitable sobering moment – OH MY WORD – where has the time gone!? I don’t mean the time spent on watching the videos, I mean the time captured in them.
When you have little ones causing chaos, leaving you perpetually exhausted, people often try to offer encouragement by saying, “you’ll get there, they grow up sooner than you think”. But I honestly didn’t think it would happen so soon. I don’t have babies anymore, not even a toddler. We are officially in the pre-school to tween phase. None of them will ever take first steps again, or say their first words, or even learn to ride a bike – they’ve done and mastered all those things already. But they are still young, and there will be many more precious moments. So I take comfort in the fact that I still have a little more time. A little more time to savour the moments that I might not remember one day.
It got me thinking… How can I be more present? I know we are all as present as we can be, especially with how busy our lives are. But, there is always room for improvement. Right? So here is a challenge that I have set for myself on how to be a more present parent. A list that I can be more intentional about.
1. Smile / laugh more often
I laughed a little when I thought of this point. My daughter and I were on our way to her dancing class the other day. She was trying to tell me something that had happened earlier in the morning, something funny, apparently. Truthfully, I wasn’t really listening, but rather contemplating how I was going to get to the other side of town to purchase a few things and get back home before dinner.
She raised her voice and said, “Why do you look so grumpy, this is a funny story”. Her comment shook me out of my thoughts. I started telling her that I’m not grumpy, I just have a lot on my mind. Her reply – you could of at least smiled.
I think of myself as a person who smiles and laughs a lot. Someone who is quite “dorky” around my children. But this moment made me realize that maybe I don’t smile or laugh as often as I could.
2. Forgive a little Easier.
As parents, we teach our children about forgiveness. If a friend or sibling has been unkind and apologized, they should forgive, mend fences and start afresh. I find that I hear my children say it to each other more than I say it to them. I’ll hear my daughter tell her brother – “it’s OK, I forgive you”… But have I ever said that to my children?
I know I give a cuddle and say it’s OK. We all make bad choices sometimes. Let’s start again. But, I don’t think I’ve ever told them I forgive them. Imagine the restorative power of having your little one sitting on your lap, or next to you on the bed, looking them in the eye, taking their hand, being present, and having them hear you say the words “I forgive you”.
What’s your take on this? I’d love to hear what you as a parent thinks.
3. Hug them a little longer.
We are an incredibly affectionate family. There are lots of cuddles and kisses throughout the day. However, someone once said that if your child doesn’t let go, then neither should you.
My eldest turns 12 next year, and we are in full swing of the tween years. So I thought that he would start pushing me away a little. Too “cool” for hugs. But, he has started to hold on to me a little longer. Especially when he goes to bed and I go in to say goodnight. His hugs have become stronger, harder and linger.
This has become an incredibly special moment for me. It’s a few extra moments between the two of us. With no other children around, just him and me.
4. Show Them You Love Them Unconditionally
Let’s face it, we all loose our temper, get irritated, moan and whinge. As I mentioned above, we all make mistakes. We all have moments when we push our loved ones away. When we are too exhausted to even want to have a conversation. It’s in these moments that our children need to know, that it’s not them. It might have been a situation or an argument that made us want to be left alone. But it’s not THEM. That they are loved unconditionally, and always will be.
Verbalizing that in a way that they can hold onto, is definitely something that I want to be more intentional about.
Being a parent that is intentional about being present in every moment, so that when we look back one day and see all the photo’s and memories that we shared as a family. We will smile, maybe even laugh, at how those moments changed us, and how hard we worked to raise, loving, caring and giving children.
I hope you enjoyed 4 Tips On How To Be A Present Parent? If so why not pop over to 5 Cognitive Learning Examples That Enhance Critical Thinking or 5 Ways To Deal With A Disappointing Report Card