Parenting Tips I've Learned Over the Years
I had only one child for 7 years. During that time it was very easy to spend quality one on one time with my daughter. Shortly after she turned 7 however I had another child. Then following our second daughter we had another daughter and a son each spaced about two years apart.
Suddenly I felt like I was drowning in responsibilities and small children needing my help every moment of the day. I'll never forget one particularly challenging day when my oldest was at school but I had a 2 year old and a newborn at home. They both started crying because they needed me. I set my toddler down on my bed so that I could change the babies diaper.
I worked as quickly as I could but it was unsettling to have two children crying for me and only being able to care for one at a time. Once I was finished changing the baby I set her down so I could care for my toddler. Again, I heard constant crying as I tried to attend to the needs of one but couldn't meet both of their needs at the same time.
Thankfully over the years I have learned a few things about parenting multiple children. I know that it's important to give each child undivided attention (even just for a few moments) every. single. day. So, I am going to share a bit about what that looks like for me and what has worked to help me maintain a relationship with each child even when life is busy and as I have needed to divide my attention between more people.
Every family situation is different and my hope is that by seeing what has worked for me, it will spark some ideas for YOU in how you can find ways to connect with each of your children on a regular basis. I would also love to hear what has worked well for you.
Parenting Tip #1-Daily Goals
When I was feeling the most overwhelmed I decided to write a small list (and I mean small) of things that I would make sure to do every day. That way, no matter what else happened during the day, if I finished that list, I would feel accomplished and successful. It was a powerful reminder for me to make sure that I prioritized the MOST important things and focused every day on doing them.
One of the things on my daily list was to spend one on one time with each child, every day. I never specified what or for how long. Some days it was as simple as singing songs together while I got them ready for the day. Other times it was cuddling up and reading a story one on one or playing with toys or baking or doing their hair. No matter what, I made sure to have special alone time with each of them, every day.
That tradition carries on even now and sometimes it's a simple check in with my oldest right before she goes to bed or tickling her arm while she tells me something about her day. Sometimes it means having that special time to give each child some hugs and kisses before they go to bed or singing a song and dancing around the house with a carefree abandon.
Parenting Tip #2- Parent/Child Dates
Did you stop dating when you got married? Not me! I go out on weekly dates with my husband AND we each take turns spending one on one time with our kids by taking each of them on a "date". We give them some suggestions or ideas of what we could do and then they pick the activity. I will take all of the kids on a date within about a week of each other. Then about 6 weeks later my husband takes each of them on a special date as well.
It works out that everyone gets to have a special one on one activity with one of us about every month and a half. We try to do activities where we have a chance to have fun but also so that they can talk to us and have our undivided attention. It always amazes me what I am able to learn when I have a chance to hang out with one of my kids for an hour or two.
Some of our recent dates have been taking them to get an ice cream, playing at the park, running errands together, having a picnic lunch, school clothes shopping, visiting the library, a walk around the neighborhood and lots more! It's always fun to see what they come up with. In the summer it seems like we have a LOT of ice cream.
Parenting Tip #3- Figure Out a Fun Tradition That Gives You an Excuse to Hang Out
This year we are starting another new tradition. Our parent/child dates are really fun but they tend to only last about an hour and we decided that we want to spend more time with our kids giving them individual attention. So we are going to do that by letting each kid pick an all day activity (around their birthday) and either mom or dad will take them on an all day adventure!
It's easy as parents to get caught up in all the things we want to teach our kids and sometimes parenting just feels like a lot of work. It's so healthy for our relationships to add in some fun and for our kids to see that we also know how to have fun and find balance in our lives.
Parenting Tip #4- Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Kids using one of these ideas
If you are feeling overwhelmed and want some simple ideas that you can start using right now to improve your relationship with your kids, try some of these suggestions:
- Make eye contact when you say "I love you".
- Give them a hug every morning and every night.
- Put down all your distractions and really listen to what they are saying.
- Ask them thoughtful questions. They may not have an answer right away, but follow up with them later and let them know you genuinely care.
- Find a new skill to try together! Let them see your vulnerability and how you are open to doing something that is hard.
- Let them see your fun, silly, goofy or playful side!
- Let each child have a chance to make decisions and let them know that their opinion matters. It could be something as simple as what to make for dinner or where to have your next family outing!
- Set a timer and tell your child that they are in charge for that amount of time. See where it leads!
Do you have any ideas or suggestions that have worked for you? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. I think that all of us are better parents when we learn from each other.
Do you have a hard time finding ways to connect with each of your children on a regular basis? I hope that you can use one of these parenting tips to inspire you to start doing something now to connect with your kids each day.