Parents are busy these days. There are jobs, kids, errands, relationships, and friendships to care for. Not to mention the PTA meetings to attend.
Some parents seem to move from task to task flawlessly. They have it down, you think, as they buy holiday gifts from Amazon while running on the treadmill.
But many feel tired, overwhelmed, and stretched thin. Tis the season for too many commitments and not enough time.
And in all of this busywork and go go going…our children sometimes feel left behind.
They shouldn’t, of course, because almost every little thing we do is meant for them in one way or another.
But they don’t know that.
They play quietly or together. They wait (as patiently as they can). And sometimes they yell out for just a little bit more attention.
We take deep breaths, we try to push the stress aside, and we sit down and engage with our children.
That’s what we should do, anyway.
Busywork is busywork. No matter the season, there will always be something. Stress creeps in at all different times in all different forms. We can find ways to manage it in the present, and avoid it in the future.
We can change.
But connecting with our children is a gift. The only way to truly get to know our children is to take the time to connect with them, to observe them, and to meet them right where they are.
Following a child’s lead in play opens the door to their innermost thoughts. They can teach so very much about themselves just by inviting us in.
Have you taken the time to observe what your child chooses to wear?
Have you asked him about those choices?
Have you sat and watched as your child works on a difficult puzzle or attempts to write a love note to you?
Have you taken note of what your child actually sees when you are out for a walk?
Have you rocked in the rocking chair and just simply listened?
When our children are infants we are encouraged to narrate our days to them – a strategy that helps build language development.
And so we talk and talk and talk.
But when the infants become toddlers and the toddlers begin talking, it’s time for us to listen.
We need to hear what they are saying and ask open-ended questions that result in detailed stories. The more we listen, the more we engage, the more we really stop to connect…the better we get to know our children.
As parents we are always instructing. There are skills to teach, rules to reinforce, and things that need to be done.
To some degree, this will always be the case.
But those small moments of enormous connection along the way? Those should never be missed. Those should always be our top priority.
Because to know your child is to provide unconditional love, and to provide unconditional love is to raise a confident, happy, and healthy child.
Before the holiday season becomes to busy…get down and play.
Because a child’s invitation to play should never ever be ignored. And some day…those invitations might stop coming.