“Mom, how come all my friends are characters like Tinkerbell and Elsa? How strange…,” remarked my four-year old daughter over breakfast. Her question struck a chord in me, and I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Was my daughter lonely? Did she need more friends? More play-dates, perhaps? Or maybe a younger sibling would do the trick? After all, she has been pestering me for baby brothers and sisters.
And then a second wave of guilt came over me as I remembered all the times she had asked me to play with her, but I was too busy to join her in her tea parties, mini fashions shows, and cooking sessions.
There are, indeed, a thousand-and-one little things that fill up the day of a stay-at-home mom like me. There’s cooking, homeschooling my three kids, ironing, grocery shopping, cleaning, bathing and dressing my active toddler, and making sure my two teenage sons and husband have what they need.
My to-do list goes on and on with tiny, seemingly insignificant things that constantly need my immediate attention. Sure, I am with my kids practically all day. But there is little room for bonding while running all over the house picking up toys and chopping onions in the kitchen.
Finding time to play with my daughter can be a such a struggle!
Many times, parents feel torn between spending time with their kids and facing the everyday grind of work, errands, and a million other adult things that clutter our minds and schedules.
Oftentimes, we forget that playtime with our kids should be intentional, yet spontaneous. It isn’t a question of finding the time to play with our sweet angels. It’s about making time for them, and taking quick advantage of the little moments, however fleeting, to make them feel special.
But where do we start? Here are a few tips:
1. Whip out that planner, and set a time each day for the kids
Plan simple activities, like talking to them about their favourite movies or cartoon characters, or playing dress up with them.
My personal favourite quality moment is right before bedtime when my daughter and I can talk about what happened throughout our day. Night time also happens to be the most magical part of the day, when we play pretend and lose ourselves in enchanted worlds of fairies, mermaids, princesses and dragons.
2. Take time to cuddle with your children, whisper, tickle, and kiss her or him
Look into their eyes and reconnect with them. When you meet them around the house, give them a lingering hug. A simple touch can convey such love and affection.
3. Unplug or disconnect gadgets
Use the time you would normally browse the web with, to be with your kids instead. It’s so ironic how we so easily keep in touch with our friends through social media, but often miss our chances to stay connected with our kids.
Strike a conversation with your kids. Ask them how their day went, or what they would like to have for dinner the next day. Perhaps you can get their thoughts on the next family outing.
4. Make meal times more memorable
Strive to eat at least one meal together, and make it a no gadgets and no phone calls breakfast, lunch or dinner. Involve them in meal-time conversations. . You’ll be pleasantly surprised about their insights.
5. Ask for your child’s help in making your to-do list, and, whenever possible, enlist their help in tackling your to-do’s
This will not just enable you to spend more time together, but it will also allow your kids to catch a glimpse of who you are, with all your flaws and strengths as you go about your daily routine. And, by watching you, they learn how certain things are done.
6. Don’t go on auto-pilot when you are with your kids
Make a conscious effort to really focus on your kids. Look at them, listen to them, and be there physically and mentally. Stay in the moment, and if it’s pretend-play, stay in character.
7. Plan a meal with a theme. Have a pizza party, or a taco night.
Do some Chinese or Indian. Have a cook-out and a picnic. Special meals will give your kids a chance to prepare meals with you. This can be a great opportunity to engage them in meaningful conversations.
My daughter’s innocent remark about her “friends, Tinkerbell and Elsa, was a jolting reminder for me that being her mother also means being a friend. And being her friend means devoting time to her.
She will be a child but once in her lifetime. Why not be a child with her?
READ: 9 Simple ways to make your child feel loved
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