In all the rush and hurry of going back to school, public holidays and settling into new schedules and routines, there is a lot than needs to be done, but in amongst it all, don't forget to be emotionally present. Ensure you are not just micro-managing and 'doing' your child like a project, but enjoy moments of 'being' with your child too.
It sounds like a tall order, but in reality, we spend more time with our children than we think - a lot of it just happens to be on the run, today. We need to learn how to be more conscious during that time and emotionally available to them. Have you noticed how easy it is to be physically with your children yet be emotionally absent? It is a very common 21st century parenting trap that we all fall into - don't get stuck in it.
By 'being' together we show love without necessarily saying the words 'I love you', which are said so often these days they have become almost a cliche. When you create moments of togetherness there is a certain kind of binding magic that feeds the happiness well in both parties and leaves a very warm sense of well-being.
Your time is such a gift to your children and provides a very strong demonstration of your love, filling their emotional cups both now and for their future. You never know when that well of love may be needed for your child to pull themselves out of a rough patch or a tough spot one day.
Knowing and believing they are loved and honoured may just be the difference between falling into a depression, falling foul of the law or falling into bad company. All of these things are choices which can be influenced by an emotional cup full of love, confidence and self-belief and an empty cup.
As parents we first fill that emotional cup for them and then we teach our children how to keep refilling their own. It cannot be done if you are not present in your child's life.
Here are some shoulder-to-shoulder parenting opportunities for creating moments of connection:
- Switch off the radio in the car and talk, but more importantly, listen
- Play word games instead of talking on your cellphone in the car -- they love the attention
- Bath together -- if still age appropriate it's a fun, relaxing and multi-sensory way of being together
- Cook and eat meals together -- ditch the screen in favour of each other!
- Make time to watch your children play sport or perform culturally -- your presence counts!
- Set family goals together -- it's fun and inspiring
- Talk to your children while you shop -- I'm amazed at the lack of chatter!
- Ask your child (if old enough) to show you how to use technology or play a computer / video game with them -- they love sharing their expertise!
- Set dates for family games nights -- play is the language of childhood, never forget it!
- Do DIY together -- they love it, it's a togetherness activity that builds trust and confidence
- Do the chores together -- they will if you will, and start this young!
- Go for family walks or exercise with an older child -- it's a great way to talk without having to look at each other and often more comes out that way
- Don't forget the bedtime stories!
Take advantage of any shoulder-to-shoulder time you may have with your children and make it count by really connecting and filling their emotional cups in that moment with your presence. In our busy lives we don't know when the next moment will present itself.
Invest emotionally in your children now and you will save on time, emotional pain, issues, sleepless nights and anxiety in the future as your children will be more 'emotionally resourced' to cope with life.
NIKKI BUSH. Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014), Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008), and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009). Find her at email@example.com www.nikkibush.com