Sometimes, I forget.
I forget that these small beings who attach themselves to me, demanding Go-gurt, cartoons or a trip to the park are actually people. That may sound totally callous, but it’s true. How easily I forget that these small, swarming, busy bodies are actually soul-filled little people, who have more than meets the eye brimming below the surface.
While I am busy, shuffling from one place to the next, one errand to the next, or trying to move from one chore to the next, I hurry them along with me. When I’m saying “yes” to something else, I may have to say “no” to them. We like to think of this as necessary, and sometimes, it very much is. There is always something in every day that must be done. How easily, though, that can cause me to disconnect from my children.
There will always be a million and one things clamoring for our attention, moms. We have to find the ways to balance that out with mothering our Littles. Here are a few ways that we can intentionally bless our babies.
1.) Say “Yes!”
Sounds so simple, right? But as we all know, it’s incredibly hard to do. There are a million and one things that we need to do every day. There can’t be guilt in washing clothes, momma, because everyone needs socks and underwear, despite what your five-year old son tells you. But make saying “yes” both a priority and a joy for you.
Whether you choose to be intentional about this every single day, or devote one day a week or month to saying “yes” to requests to play or for another cookie, or commit one special activity (Lego’s, coloring) to always being a “yes” for you, just make sure you find a way to do it.
This doesn’t mean foregoing discipline or letting them rule the roost for the day (unless you want them to skip nap time, color on the walls and eat Oreo’s for all three meals.) But, I think that you’ll find it really isn’t about that for them. It’s about that one-on-one time with mom, extra time to connect, and them being joyful about your being joyful to spend time with them. Or the comfort that they get, knowing that mom is always there for that special book or to play dolls with.
2.) Children > Technology x All of the Time
Make no mistake, I am not shaming you for using your smart phone, or for spending time in your desktop computer because you work from home. But letting your children know that they take precedence over technology is a big, big deal. You know something that kills me? When I leave my phone in the other room and my children excitedly bring it to me, as if they were bringing me a brick of gold. That let’s me know that maybe I’m on my phone too much. Even though they are being incredibly sweet, I’d rather them think I were excited to see them.
Our children will grow up in a world saturated with technology. Where they will rarely even use chalkboards in school classrooms anymore. No chalkboards, people!! Because technology is everywhere. Because all of the gadgets that we have now is probably just the tip of the technological iceberg.
And as with any good thing, there is such a thing as overload. When my children are excitedly telling me all about their day, I’m guilty of not instantly putting my phone down to make eye contact and listen to what they have to say. This is true even when I’m doing something frivolous on my phone that can definitely wait. Doing that lets them know that they’re important, and that what they have to say is important.
As with everything, there is a balance. I’m not suggesting foregoing all technology or not teaching them boundaries (mommy can’t always just stop for an hour to talk about insects) but it is important to let them know that they matter more than a screen.
3.) Get excited about…
Seeing them. Their Lego project that they just finished. Their profound million and one facts about bugs. Get excited about what THEY are excited about. Get excited about what THEY are doing. These seeds that you are planting encourage them to be passionate and excited about the things that they love doing. They will remember mom (and dad, of course) always being present and encouraging about their singing or dancing or their love of dinosaurs or their playing t-ball every Saturday morning.
They need encouragement and someone to build into them, and you as their parent are their greatest source for both of those things. A tiny bit of encouragement from a parent is a treasure to them, one that they will always keep.
Another great habit is to get excited about seeing them whenever you have been apart all day. I love that my children are excited to see me, and I love showing them that I am excited to see them after a long time apart. I want them to know that I was thinking about them while I was away. I like letting them know that they were on my mind, and this isn’t an exaggeration. It’s the truth.
4.) Make them do stuff
Sometimes, I throw my children outside. Even though I know that they will be back, in 12 minutes, with their noses pressed against my back door, wanting to come back inside. Sometimes, we turn off the television and I make them read with me. Sometimes, I just make them do stuff. I make them use their brains. I make them use their bodies. Because it pays to be old school. It pays to make them catch lightning bugs and stay-up late eating watermelon on a summer evening. It pays to play in the snow with them until everyone is shivering. This world is meant to be explored.
You really don’t gain anything productive or ultimately useful when they spend hours in front of the television or looking at an iPad. Great memories, for the most part, are not made sitting in front of the television. But, flying a kite on a spring day is something they will always remember. Riding their bikes or playing in dirt, touching this world and getting messy, that is something that they will always have. A great side-effect? It makes YOU do stuff, too.
5.) Pray with them
I know everyone isn’t religious, but I had to throw this one in here. Praying with my children is slowly becoming a larger and more important part of the day in my home. We pray for our meals. We pray at bed time. And we are starting to pray when things go wrong or just need extra prayer (someone is sick, for school to go well, for daddy to have a good day.)
Regardless of how you feel about prayer, besides teaching our children to have an intimate relationship with their creator, this also makes them aware of others around them. It makes my children aware when someone is ill, when someone is down, when someone just needs something. It makes them attuned to the needs of others.
And it is a tremendous blessing for me to hear my children pray over our day. It is amazing to hear my son be thankful for his meal when he knows that so many people are not as fortunate. It instills an awareness in them that I don’t think can be matched in many other ways. Encourage them to do it. Do it with them. And in the beginning talk them through it if need be. And ultimately, let them hear you doing it. There is no greater instruction than leading by example.
There you have it. There are of course a million little ways to bless our Littles. Share some of your favorite ways to connect with your kiddos in the comments below. Have a great weekend!