“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” – Nelson Mandela
Be Present With Your Children
On my daughter’s first day of preschool, her teacher, whose daughter had recently graduated from high school, advised, “Savor each day because it goes by in the blink of an eye.” Even though I was in the thick of the 0-5 aged world, her words resonated with me. I remember various moments throughout my children’s lives when I wished I could freeze time–times when we were fully present with each other in the moment, and love and joy consumed my heart for these fascinating little souls.
On the other hand, there were blocks of time when the busyness of life, like a heavy, woolen blanket, suffocated these teacher’s wise words. As my children and I rushed from one event or activity to another, we sacrificed precious time together. The woolen blanket irritated our skin making us ornery; it kept us from needed sleep; and it deprived us of connection.
Busyness stole from us:
Something to Think About: What Legacy Will You Leave Behind In the World?
Four Ways To Engage With Your Children
Cherish your children–put down your phones, get off the computer, say no to extra activities, and insist your children come out of their rooms.
We can’t make a difference in the everyday lives of children if we are not present with them.
1. Play Board Games
My in-laws taught me about the importance of game playing. With every visit, they played games with our children, and my children and I discovered some valuable lessons. In contrast to video games, board games allow face-to-face interaction. Face-to-face interaction shows we value the other person, builds trust, increases communication skills, and teaches non-verbal cues. Moreover, playing board games teaches children how to lose graciously. So, search the closet for a favorite game, sit down at the kitchen table, and invite your child to play.
2. Take a Walk
Children need to spend time outdoors and many are severely lacking time in nature. The days of children running through the woods, climbing trees, building forts and using one’s imagination have passed in favor of Fortnite, iPads, social media, 24/7 children’s TV programming, and texting. Neighborhood streets are empty and silent, and it is haunting.
Go to a park and walk.
Enjoy the silence, observe the activity, take in the scents, and listen to the sounds. You may find nature’s majesty inspires meaningful and authentic conversations that strengthen bonds.
3. Cook Together
It is easy to pick up dinner with busy schedules; however, we sacrifice teaching children about health and nutrition with each carry-out meal. Exposing children to fruits and vegetables gives kids a positive experience with a variety of tastes, textures, and smells. Cooking teaches children reading and math skills and how to follow directions. It is also an essential life skill. Finally, preparing a meal together encourages families to eat together; thus, strengthening relationships.
Suggested Read: Family Recipes – Continuing A Legacy
4. Share a Hobby
According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, spending time with your child by doing something you both enjoy increases a child’s self-esteem. A parent’s passion is contagious. Compliment your child on their willingness to try something new. Encourage and support them; refrain from criticizing or shaming their effort. Laugh at your own mistakes and show them that it takes time and patience to learn a new skill. This is a vital life skill in a society that expects instant gratification.
Live In The Moment – Enjoy Your Children Right Now
The idea that time is at our disposal is an illusion. Show children that they are loved and appreciated now, here, in the moment, and every day. It is crucial that we find ways to connect with our children–our most precious resource–in this unprecedented age of disconnection.