You have many important roles that you play every day, all of which demand your time, your energy, and your attention. Parenting is just one of your many roles. Like your work, social, or family relationships, parenting requires connection with your kids. What does connection with an infant, toddler, or preschooler look-like? How can you make time to connect when you are stuck in online meetings 8 hours a day?
The current state of world can seem overwhelming right now, but today, in your family bubble, I want you to know that you have got this! You can foster connection with your child and make this day seem amazing in the eyes of your kids in small, simple, but effective ways!
Connection looks different with each child and with changing developmental stages, but some primary ideas remain the same. Kids want to know they are loved, valued, and have a place in the family. They want to feel important, and likely more important than the people you are on a business call with! So when they are screaming for you to "stop talking" or "come and play" what they are really saying is I need to feel loved, important, valued - I need to feel connection.
This can feel overwhelming when you are already pulled in so many directions throughout the day. We get it! As parents, we are in this with you. We don't get it right every day or every time either. But here are some strategies to help foster connection with you child one day, one moment at a time!
Give each child 15 minutes of undivided attention
This time has no guidelines, no structure, no formality to it. Let your child pick the activity or let them direct what this time looks like.
With infants, they cannot direct the play, but you can read or play with your baby when they show you they are ready to engage by looking with bright eyes, raised eye-brows, and an alert gaze.
Toddlers may not be able to verbalize the activity, but you can sure follow their lead. This may be reading them a story when the pull out a book and drop it in your lap. Older children are great at telling you what they want to do to play. It can be hard to drop everything and play, but spending those 15 minutes immersed in play with your child can give them that sense of connection they are craving.
Tip: When you have more than one child, it may be more feasible to plan these moments when you have other supportive adults (i.e. parents or grandparents) around to look after other children.
Make each day EPIC!
Wow, that sounds like a lot of pressure. But think of it in the eyes of a child. Each day can hold something exciting and seemingly epic but require little time or effort on your part. One day, have a jammy day when you spend the entire day in your pajamas. Or if that has become the norm (I know it has in my house), play dress up for the morning and get dressed in costumes! Make breakfast together and pretend you are hosting a cooking show. Turn a bed into a spaceship and go on a make-believe, intergalactic expedition! These ideas can take 5-10 minutes to set up and leave a lasting impression of love and connection. The key with any activity is to get your kids involved in the ideas or let them direct the play. Don't force it, just go with the flow.
Daily self-affirmations (you can use them too)!
Parents' words often become the self-talk of children. That is powerful! Daily affirmations can become like little mantras for our children. They can help your children when they are in stressful situations to help them be resilient and overcome obstacles. Imagine your child tries something new... and fails. What do you want to be the words they tell themselves? "I can do this", "I just need to try again", "this is hard, but I know I can do it". Affirmations are like rehearsals. You children practice telling themselves positive self-talk so that when they face a challenge in life, they can work through it.
When you use them is up to you and your child. I know for my own children, my 2-year-old loves cuddles in the morning and we do the affirmations then. My 4-year-old prefers to do them at night before bed as we talk through and help process his day. These are just some examples of affirmations and you can adapt your own to cater the words you would like to inform your child's self-talk.
For kids, I like to keep them simple:
I am patient
I am kind
I am caring
I am generous
I am brave
I am strong
I can work hard to fix to my problems
I am loved
As adults we can benefit from them too! Here are some others you can use in your own daily routine:
There is no one better to be than me.
I am enough.
I am an amazing person.
All of my problems have solutions.
I forgive myself for my mistakes.