Parenting often reminds me of the old game Perfection. The timer is set and we struggle, rushing to get all the pieces in the right place. We frantically try to accomplish it all: homework done without a fuss, a clean home, delicious meals (in my dreams), papers signed, play dates set, kids tidy, respectful and happy, a dog that doesn’t dig holes in the well manicured lawn or leave a mouse carcass on the front step to greet visitors. The impossible list is completed with a well rested, smiling mom.
Just when it feels like everything is almost in its proper space and you are ready to sit back and relax for a moment, time runs out. The board pops and all the pieces go flying without a warning. And then we have to start over.
Trying to be the perfect mom is not worth your precious time.
The things we do each day are important to the health and well being of our family, but what should take top priority? Does your life ever get so busy that you run out of time to simply be with your kids and enjoy each other?
I’ve decided that I’m going to focus on giving my kids a steady stream of love in simple ways, regardless of how many things remain unchecked on my to-do list. Building strong connections with my girls is my priority. Care to join me? Here are some simple ways to get started:
- Make a date with your child. Let them pick a favorite restaurant or activity and spend a couple of hours talking and enjoying some quality time.
- Wake your child up gently each morning with a kiss, a gentle “time to get up,” and a hug. It’s a sweet way to start every day.
- Cook their favorite dinner and let them help prepare it. It offers quality time and a cooking lesson all in one.
- Play together. Whether you are playing hide-n-seek, piecing together a jigsaw puzzle or playing Wii, take the time to enjoy an activity other than school work and chores.
- If your child is struggling academically or socially, make a commitment to help in any way you can. Be their advocate. They need you and your efforts will show your love and support.
- Ask your child to make a list of things that would make them feel loved. Their answers may surprise you!
- Create a new word or gesture that only the two of you know. Use it when you are out shopping or at a gathering. It will be your shared secret.
- Give them a genuine compliment beyond the standard “good job.” Compliment them on a specific achievement, effort or quality you enjoy about them.
- Celebrate the small victories and milestones in their lives with a cake and a mini-party. Some occasions could include losing a tooth, finishing a challenging book or winning a soccer game.
- Listen, listen and listen some more. Kids have a way of telling you what they need, but it requires you to be fully present and hear them. Sometimes they just need to vent. Don’t we all?
Things will still explode in your face every now and then. It’s part of the game. Put your dreams of being perfect aside. End each day with a warm hug and know that tomorrow will bring you a new opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your children.