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!