As a working mom, we know how important it is for us to have regular, meaningful connections with our children. We're not just talking about the routine mom duties like dressing them, getting them out the door and off to school, making sure they eat and excel academically. But the memories that will last a lifetime, that sustain us when we have to work long hours and when we are away if duty calls. These are memories that we also want our kids to have to make them feel like they are always connected to us, to let them know that they are at the top of our minds and that they matter more than they will ever know. It doesn't have to be complicated. We can create simple ways to be present with our children. When we decide to show up and be present with our children without distractions, we show them they are worthy of our time and attention. We begin to foster positive relationships and an entry into their world. You may begin to see them opening up more, listening more attentively and behaving in a calm manner.
1. Stop trying to control every situation
As physicians we are wired to want to control every situation. We are used to making the tough decisions in our work environment and at times having the final say. We give our patients a treatment plan and expect them to follow through. When dealing with our children we have to give them space to try new things and also to try things on their own. Obviously we are not going to let them get hurt but it's okay if they fail every now and then. We just have to be there to encourage them and teach them how to push pass their failures.
2. Make a play date
We often run around making play dates for our children with their friends. It's about time we schedule our own play dates with our children. Kids like to see their parents having fun, so let's show them how fun we can be. It may require getting a little dirty and messy but they will remember these treasured moments for a lifetime.
3. Eye contact
Make sure that you are totally present. This means turning off all electronic devices and avoiding any distractions. When your child has a story to share or a question to ask, pay full attention and look directly at them. They will always sense when you are not paying attention and this may make them feel like they are not being heard and even worse that you don't care. So look deep into those big eyes and give your full attention.
4. De-stress before coming home
There is nothing worse than bringing home your own **stress **and anxiety. The energy that you bring into the home can be toxic. You may be irritable due to something that happened at work. This may cause you to not be fully engaged or present and your children will pick up on this. We need to learn to de-stress before putting the key in the door. If your day was stressful or you had a hard case that you had to deal with, make time to take some deep breaths before you come home. Stop and pick up a cup of tea or walk around the block before you come inside. Take whatever steps you need, so that when mommy's home she is present.
5. Create memories
Leaving behind sweet nothings for your children is a way to connect and to let them know that you're thinking about them. Sweet nothings are not only for couples. They can be shared and extended to parents and their children. Examples of sweet nothings are sending text messages after they get on the school bus or after they leave your car if you're dropping them off. Leaving notes in their lunchbox is a nice surprise and can brighten their day, especially if your child is having a hard time adjusting. Leave encouraging notes on the refrigerator. This is the one place they are sure to visit. Create memories during the holidays, birthdays or during the summer when they are out of school. This not only gives them something to look forward to every year but also creates special impressions that will last a lifetime.
6. Connect during mealtime
Mealtime is an important time of the day to connect with your children. According to an article published in the Washington Post, by Anne Fishel "It turns out that sitting down for a nightly meal is great for the brain, the body and the spirit." As busy families, mealtime often happens on the road and is not spent together. Breakfast or dinner can be a time to catch up on what's happening in your child's life, to reconnect with stories or shared memories and to create a time to have discussions on events happening in the world. I know that having every meal together may be tough. The best way to achieve this is to plan in advance. Look at everyone's schedule and see what days and times work best.
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