This process of being present for your kids really starts with being still. Our busy lives and major to-do lists keep us going a mile a minute, and we know that slowing down might cause us to not get it all done before nightfall, or whenever your mental deadline may be. Being present starts with calming the crazy in your body and taking a deep, deep breath. Be very still. Thank God for this beautiful moment and your ability to do your work and love your family. Take one more deep breath and then open your eyes.
Step two, sort of important, is to go and find your kids, or maybe just one. Observe a bit, what are they up to? Find the beauty in precisely what they’re doing. Yes, even if they’ve gotten into the flour. Even if you notice they’ve taken off their diaper and have no idea where it is. There is beauty in your child’s mischievous doings. Their little personality is shining through. They’re full of curiosity and constantly conducting their own experiments. Just be sure they’re not going to put themselves in the hospital.
Third step, and this one will really make their eyes light up, ask if you can play with them. If you do nothing else, just ask them if you can join in on the fun. To you babies, you’re the cool kid in class who has just invited them to sit by them at lunch. You’re the princess asking if they’d like to wear the crown today, or the pirate handing over the ship. Do you get how special you are to them? Yes, they’ll love you if you come in and play without asking, and they’ll love it if you take over or perhaps change what they’re playing to your liking, but let’s put their playtime in their hands.
Fourth step: Be there and enjoy your kiddos creativity.
There’s more to being present for your kids than just playing with them, and it really isn’t that hard to do, but you might have to turn around some bad habits. We all have them, no need to feel special here.
Scenario #1: Preparing dinner is a chore during the worst part of our day. It is pretty typical to hear a bunch of whining and sobbing alongside the sizzle in the skillet. My nerves are worked to their breaking point at this time, but I’ve come along way and patience is a virtue I have come to know better (not well, just better). Give your child a safe chore to help you prepare dinner. While your child is working with you start up a conversation. This could be a learning experience about colors, counting, how to make a meal, or you could discuss what they loved about the day, or what they want to do tomorrow. You know what to talk about…
Scenario #2: Driving around in the car is pretty typical of parents with kids. Take the time to turn off your radio, or maybe turn it up. Interact with your child by singing to them or maybe get them to dance in their seat. If that isn’t your thing there’s another learning moment here, teach them left and right with each turn, find the road signs and name them. find examples of objects beginning with the letters of the alphabet.
Scenario #3: Grocery shopping with little ones is a chore. Talk to your babies about what you are putting in the cart and why. Ask your older kid to get the item off the shelf for you. Let them put the items on the conveyor belt. The grocery store is where we learn a lot of new words and all the same learning experiences in scenario #2 can be used here as well.
It is best to go to the grocery store when you are NOT in a hurry. In fact, you probably need to work on that. Stop hurrying your loved ones everywhere so much. Put yourself in their shoes. How does it make you feel if your boss is snapping her fingers at you telling you to get with the program because you’re lagging behind again, saying “Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”
The key to being present with your kids is getting them talking. The more they talk they more you learn about them and learning about who they are becoming ultimately helps you when those same kids are acting like fools.