Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A List: How-to Cherish Our Little Ones

As you probably gathered from her beautiful essay yesterday, enjoying her littles is one of Danielle's gifts. She's genuinely wonderful at it. We recognize that may not be the case for all of us. At least not every day :) On the heels of Danielle's essay about enjoying motherhood, we thought it might be helpful to have a few practical ideas to assist us in the quest, some baby steps towards more enjoyment and fulfillment. Today, Abbie shares a few things that have helped her be more present with her children and enjoy her job more...



I love my kids. I do. But there are days that I really struggle to spend quality time with them; and I wonder how I could possibly go a whole day of being with them, but never actually play with or really listen to or really see them. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I don’t want to regret not enjoying them as much as I can while they are still living in my home.

Here’s a list of ideas that help me in my efforts to give my children good mommy time:
  • Put the babes on the list. Each week I make a list of things I want to get done (I work much better on a weekly list than a daily list). At the top of each week I write their names with 15 next to it. This means 15 minutes of cherish time – giving them daily quality one-on-one time when I am fully present.
  • Time ins. Oh, how we love the timer. This idea came from The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Karp. Doesn’t it seem on the days we have a lot going on are the days the kids reeeeally need us to do every little thing with them? On those days I set the timer. “I’ll play playdough for 7 minutes, then Mommy has to get back to work.” Or I’ll switch it up, “in 20 minutes I will come color with you.” I go back and forth between my kids and my work.
  • Have them join you in the daily chores. We have a little broom and a little water spray bottle so they can "help" when I’m cleaning up. You can also invite them to join you when you’re making food or doing an organizing project. It may take longer (and maybe not get done to adult standards), but they will learn and it’s time spent together.
  • Blog or scrapbook. Take pictures of them (raise your hand if you took over 2,000 pictures before your baby turned one) and write down the little things they say. I know you’re thinking - duh, Abbie - but this one has really helped me enjoy them more. I reread our blog all the time and my favorite posts are usually the ones about my two tiny ones. When you’re recording the sweet moments, you find more of them.
  • Keep a time of day just for them and protect it. It’s not always easy to do this (and it will get harder as they get older), but I really try hard not to have anything going on from 6-7pm each day. And I give it to them. Baths, books, prayers, songs, and snuggling. It’s our time. I also try (TRY!) not to get stressed out during that hour (the freak-out-clean-up-dinner-dash is usually from 5-6:)
  • Look, listen, and hug. When I’m annoyed with my kids it usually means I’m not really listening to what they’re saying, not looking them in the eyes, or I'm trying to get away from them. I’ve recently tried to just listen to them, hear them, and hug them. I’ve started to notice that once I give them my ear, eye and snuggle – I like them a whole lot more, and they’re more likely to give me a bit of space when I need it.
  • Good transporting time. We all spend a lot of time in the car. An idea from Em is to make it more quality time: turn off the music, turn off your phone, turn off the DVD player. Talk to your kids about their day or have them tell you what they see along the road. Listen to their music and make the car fun for them. The same goes for city families: we like to talk about what we’re seeing out the subway or bus window, sing songs, and I always love when I have one babe on my lap and the other cuddled up on the seat next to me. Time in the car, bus, or train can be good quality family time.
  • Get down and play! I make myself get down and do something with each babe once a day. Cars, trains, coloring, puzzles, games, something. And I try (TRY!) to turn off my brain (I can meal plan, check email, clean the bathroom later) so that I’m really there for them. It’s all about staying fully present!
Your turn! What works for you? What are some things that help you enjoy the tiny people living in your home?

14 comments:

Jonesy said...

Abbie! I think you really hit the nail on the head with this one! I was raised in a home where you "work first, play later" and I've generally always abided by that--until I became a mother. Now there's just so much work to get done that PLAY NEVER HAPPENS! As soon as I'm done with one chore, there's another one waiting in the wings. I'm working very hard to reprogram myself after 30+ years of such rigidity, so I appreciate your list more than you can know. Now excuse me while I ignore the dishes and go make a box fort with my girlies.

Tiffany said...

We're thinking on the same wave length here. I wrote a post last Friday about how to love your little ones. http://www.simplymodernmom.com/2010/02/how-to-love-your-children/

We live in a Zoo! said...

Lol! The car is the best time for conversation with my kids (5,2,and 9mnths) My 5yrld talks almost non-stop about everything. We don't listen to music or watch movies in the car EVER! Not because I don't want to but because he just wants to talk. And my 2yrold puts in his word when he can and wants to. All the while my 9mnthold jibberjabbers away. Its fun to listen to :D

Rachael said...

You talked about two things that are key in our family--the timer and play first. My kids are so happy to play by themselves while I do something else if I've spent time with them beforehand--plus, they know when the timer goes off that it's time to move on, whether that signals the end of time with Mommy or without.

Valerie said...

I enjoyed all of your tips. I agree on giving them more hugs and listening, it seems when I am really busy they are the whiniest. And I might have to try your timer idea, that would work well for me. We also give an hour to the kids at night, bath, books, prayers, bed time. It's a good way to end the day together :)

One other tip I have to is to sit down and set up one on one dates with your kids, then put it on a calendar. We have our calendar on a dry erase board on the fridge, so my 5 yr old can see the days I have circled for his "special" days. Then we plan one or two family dates, then an individual date. Even somethign as simple as going mini golfing with Dad, or taking the little one to Costco, just he and Dad, grabbing some items and taste testing all the food samples ha ha ha. I have noticed that one on one time is amazing for them, and us!

Melissa said...

This list is awesome. If I made a list it would be just about the same. I like the "cherish time". I love little names like that for things. It helps me remember to do them. My mom had so many regrets about raising my sister and I. I don't want to have those same regrets. My girls are 8 and 10 and I already feel like there's more I should have done. I don't know that I could have done more because we do the best we can while we ourselves are learning and growing, but I would have liked to have implemented more ideas. I think my girls will remember that they were loved and feel that throughout their lives.

Heather said...

These are wonderful ideas! Thanks so much for posting them!

Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem said...

Great advice. I so need to be reminded to do all these things. Thank you.

Laurel said...

This is such a great topic! Thank you! If I were to add anything it would be "share your passions with them." Whatever it be, if you love it, include them in some way. Mine are music and reading. Before my kids were in school I did a mom/preschooler music group every week, just because I loved music. I also sing with them whenever possible. And we read together every day. I enjoy it as much as they do. Yesterday we took blankets and pillows outside (AZ weather) and laid in the sun while I read outloud. It was soooo lovely, (even though my house didn't get cleaned) that it is a memory I will always cherish.

danielle said...

All great ideas Abbie. Thanks for these ideas...I need them too!

I especially love the one about including them in chores. I am amazed at what even a two year old can do to help (although sometimes its not actually helpful exactly...but she thinks its fun and it teaches her the idea of helping). And I love what you said about writing cute things that your kids say down. Its so true that the more you think about the things you love about your kids...the more you seem to find to love.

Great tips!

Julie P said...

Thank you for sharing...It's good to know that I'm not alone in this! I feel so guilty when I'm annoyed at my kids. But we just have to jump in and do better.

Lesley said...

I honestly believe that there is no one better to write this post than Abbie!

I loved your ideas, Abbie. We are going to do the timer thing, just because you said so. And I can't wait!

Headle said...

I totally agree with Lesley! This post was incredible!!!! Abbie is amazing!! She's taught me soooo many things! Too many to list here!

I loved what she said about blogging and scrapbooking the little things. Its transformed the way I approach our family journal.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for that post! I needed it. It can be so hard some days to really be present with my kids. I loved the list of ideas. I'm definitely inspired to be a better mom! Thanks.