21 Ways To Improve The Relationship With Your Child
The Mom Guilt
Parents spend more time with their kids than ever before, according to this study. Moms in 1965 might have spent more time at home with children, but they only spent 54 minutes on child care activities. Moms in 2012 nearly doubled that, reporting 104 minutes per day. But at the same time, parents are becoming more and more distracted by their cell phones than ever.
Like many other parents, I constantly feel guilty for not being present enough around my kids. Even if I spend the whole day with them, I always end up feel guilty for something at the end of the day.
But how can I be present when I work full time, trying to keep the house clean and get dinner on the table at the same time?
You could multi-task spending time with your kids while making dinner. But the truth is that a great relationship needs attending to, every day. Especially the relationship with your kids.
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How To Become More Present
Our kids are growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss a minute of it. But I am going to miss things. Everyone is. But what I am going to try to do, is to be present as much as I possibly can. Here are 25 actions that both you and I can take to become more present with our kids.
1. Look at the situations from your child’s point of view
Make dinner with your kids and if they want to pretend that the sauce is the ocean, the potatoes are islands and the meat is sharks, then play along! My son loves to pretend that the water in the shower is fire. So when he squirts water at me, I scream for my life (and hope that our neighbors don’t hear me).
2. Plan ahead
Take a trip to the grocery store with your kids and buy groceries for the entire week. This might seem overwhelming, but if you plan ahead and make a list by categories, it will go much smoother. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can get the shopping done with your kids in the same amount of time as when you go alone. Make sure you have some extra time so you won’t feel stressed. I usually give my son a few items to remember so that he feels involved.
3. Take a walk with imagination
A walk with a toddler doesn’t need to be about exercising. Take a walk outside and start imagining! Maybe a dinosaur made that tree fall or is there a lion living in the den over there? We’re often searching for footprints on our walks and fantasize about who might have made them.
4. Focus on one thing at a time
Take a step back and try to only focus one thing at a time. This will make you more patient and you’ll be less likely to lose your temper. If you’re thinking about everything that needs to be done, then you will definitely feel stressed. Try to enjoy eating breakfast with your family and when you’re done, start thinking about putting it away, and then about brushing your kid’s teeth’s and so on.
5. Take a (short) road trip
But make sure that you leave all of the electronics at home. There’s no better way to make everyone spend time together than being in a cramped car. Instead of letting your kids watch a movie in the car, you can sing songs together, talk about what you see outside the window, everyone’s dreams for the future or playing car games (check out Stuckonyou for ideas on games).
6. Put away your phone
Don’t put down your phone right next to you. Put it away in another room, preferably on mute. This way you won’t get distracted by all of the notifications that shows up and your child will feel like your top priority.
7. Know your limits
Sometimes we need a little time to ourselves to refill the power meter. This does not make you a bad parent or selfish! Take a day to yourself and do something that you like to do, visit a friend, go to the gym or treat yourself to a manicure. When you come home you are likely to have more energy and patience for your kids. Do you find it difficult to get alone time? Read How to Get Alone Time as a Mom.
Alone time does not make a mom selfish. Sometimes we just need to refill the power meter. Klicka för att Tweeta
8. Do nothing
By this, I don’t mean to let your kids watch TV all day. Kids need to be active and social but sometimes we need to stop scheduling every minute of their lives and let them have fun on their own terms. Try to not interfere with what your kids do and let their imagination run wild. Let your kids pretend that the bed is a spaceship or let them draw with their feet if that is what they want to do!
9. Balance planned activities and downtime
Days that are full of planned activities can be overwhelming and exhausting, to be honest. And staying at home for more than a day is often super boring. Try to strive for a balance where you make plans for a couple of hours a day but plan for just staying home for the same amount of time. Balance is the key to happiness.
10. Make your kids wait
But what, wasn’t this an exercise in becoming more present? And that is exactly why you should teach your kids patience by letting them wait for a minute. When you’re finished unloading the dishwasher or talking on the phone, you’ll be able to give your kids your full attention.
11. Prioritize time
Quality time is a myth. With kids, it’s quantity time that matters. Think about two friends or family members that you have. Who do you have the closest relationship with? The friend that you see once a month or the one that you meet for coffee every week? Do not expect to gain a good relationship with your kids if you don’t spend any real time together.
12. Start a journal
Kind of a weird thing step into becoming more present, huh? A while back I started to write in one of those 5-years journals* and I almost exclusively write about sweet, funny or crazy things about my kids. Writing about my kids in the journal motivates me to create more memories with my kids, and I know that I will treasure this journal for the rest of my life.
13. Accept the messes
Being present can sometimes be messy, but good messy! My son loves to paint and this often ends with dirty fingers and clothes for both me and him. Try to focus on the time you spend together, the memories you make and how your child is learning new things, instead of the dirt on her pants and the grass in her hair. Doing laundry will be a lot more fun when you know how much fun you’ve had getting the clothes dirty.
14. Choose your least favorite activity
There’s always at least one activity that parents don’t really like doing with their kids. For me, it used to be bath time. But one day I decided that I didn’t want to have to tell my spouse to bathe our son anymore. And instead of bathing Anton, we started to take baths together and all of the sudden, bath time became fun. Try a new approach to your least favorite activity and see if you can make it into something to look forward to.
15. Practice the art of conversation
Start asking your kids open-ended questions and answer your kid’s questions thoroughly. My son can ask “Why” a thousand times and though it makes me crazy sometimes, I try to always answer his questions and explain what I mean. It is the answers to these questions that he learns and evolves from and every time I wish to answer “uh-huh”, I think of this. Research even shows that when a young child speaks, it is his parents that we hear.
16. Have daily routine
No screen mealtimes, reading before bedtime, talking in the car on the way home, hugging, cuddle, and kissing. Having some sorts of daily routine and activities that gives your kids attention and affirmation is a great way to bond with your kid again.
17. Sleep tight
Studies show that the recommended sleep length is 7-9 hours. Make sleep your priority and start practicing a relaxing bedtime routine. There’s no excuse for being cranky and short tempered against your kids, just because you didn’t go to bed at a decent hour.
Don't be short tempered against your child just cause you're tired cause you stayed up too late Klicka för att Tweeta
18. Keep eye contact
Both kids and adults want to feel heard. Like their opinion and feelings matter. Look at your kids when they talk to you or ask you a question. If you really are too busy to stop and look at them, ask them to wait until you can give them your full attention.
19. Join in on the fun
Stop watching your kids and join in on their fun. Play with them, play soccer with them, run with them or whatever. Just enjoy the moment and let your inner kid take over! Playing with kids isn’t always that much fun, but I can see the joy in my son’s eyes when I join him, and that really warms my heart.
20. Keep calm
There is no way for you to be present and peaceful if you are angry or in a bad mood. Being in a good mood is important when you’re making decisions trough out the day. You’ll want to be able to make the most positive decisions that you can, for your kids’ sake. If you need to calm down, try to count your blessings or dance it out!
21. Settle for being just enough
If you’re going to beat yourself up for never being enough, not playing enough, not working enough, not talking enough with your kids, well, you’re setting yourself up for the guilt trip my friend. The sooner you accept the fact you’ll never be able to perform a hundred percent at your job, at home, in your relationships, and with your kids, the sooner you’ll get free from the guilt.
Being a present parent doesn’t come easy and there are no quick fixes. To be present, you’ll need to teach your kids patience, have daily routines, prioritize time, and be aware of your limits. Put away your smartphone right now, and don’t look at it again until your kids have been tucked in. Does it feel impossible? Well, at least I believe in you!
Let’s chat down below! What’s standing in your way of becoming a present parent?
6-DAYS TO A BALANCED LIFE
Become a more happy and healthy you, by prioritize and make changes in your life to achieve long-term balance.