Does anyone else feel like your kids are growing up way too fast? My oldest son turned 10 last week and it seems like just yesterday we became a family of three.
For almost three years it was just my little buddy and me. We had so many fun adventures together and he was the recipient of all my undivided attention. Fast forward several years and we are now a family of five.
With each new addition I have been amazed at how much more love I feel. But I have also felt a bit of guilt that I don’t always have as much time as I would like to show that love to each child individually. These little people are everything to me. In an ideal world I would spend at least 15-20 minutes with each child each night, tucking them in, reading together, snuggling and sending them off to sleep with sweet dreams. But the reality is, there is just not enough time in the day or enough of me to go around most nights.
Another occurrence I have noticed in life is that my older kids get less time with me because they are more self-sufficient. I suppose that is only natural, but it is not unusual for a day to go by that I have had only a few brief conversations with my oldest son since he is the busiest and least needy. That is so sad! He is growing up so fast and I want to make sure we establish a close relationship as well as good communication skills, especially before he hits those middle school and high school years. These thoughts have been on my mind quite a bit lately. After reading and researching as well as chatting with some other moms who I love and admire, I have compiled a great list of suggestions to help us show our love and make personal connections with our kids individually.
Never too old to be “tucked in”- No matter how old your child may be, night time is always a good time to check in, talk about their day (if they are willing) and express love. I will be the first to admit that by the time my oldest goes to bed, I am past ready for my mom duties to end. But after talking with some dear friends about their relationships with their teenagers, I’ve felt a stronger desire to make sure those moments happen. The end of the day is a natural time for kids to open up about their thoughts and feelings. Both of my sons turn into chatter boxes when I take a few minutes to lay by them and scratch their backs before bed. I’m sure their main purpose is to stall bedtime, but I also know they enjoy this time with me when I give it to them. I am not distracted by my phone or other people in the room. I am able to just listen, laugh and converse.
A dear friend of mine told me that when her daughter was younger, she used to love to hear stories about her mom as a little girl. This sweet time together became less and less frequent as life got busier and her reply for stories was more often than not, “not tonight.” After a while, her daughter stopped asking for stories and my friend said that is something she has always regretted. I am grateful for her hindsight. Her story is a good reminder that it is a lot easier to establish these relationships and traditions now and that it is worth our time to maintain them. I hope I can always keep that perspective as I move forward raising my children.
Do an activity together regularly- Creating one-on-one time is not always easy but it is so very important for your children. I love the idea of setting up regular one-on-one dates with your children but that is not the only way to share time with a child. You can do an activity at home, run an errand together, or even have the kids be assigned specific nights that they help you with dinner or the dishes. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as you are together. I have so many memories of doing the dishes with my mom and still today love to talk and work together while we clean up after a family meal.
Put it in writing- I love writing little notes to my kids to tell them how proud I am of them or encourage them when I know they need a boost. These notes are often just me expressing feelings but writing can also be used as a form of two-way communication. One of my friends has a journal that she and her son use to write to each other. At the end of each week, he writes his mom a letter with all the highlights of his week and anything else he feels worth sharing. Then she responds by writing a letter back in the same notebook. This is such a great way for the mom to stay informed and the son to express and it is a great way to journal too! This friend of mine has 5 boys but she only does with her 2nd son. It is there special thing. Isn’t that such a great idea!?
Take interest in their interests- One of the best ways to relate to your children is to understand their interests. It is way more fun for your child to come home and tell you all about their lacrosse game if you at least have some clue about the rules and know at least some of their teammates. Take the time to learn about what your child’s hobbies are and who they are doing them with. Ask them about their hobbies. Let them explain things and listen so that they know you are really interested. Know their friends and teammates. Taking interest in your child’s activities helps them feel loved and supported.
Always be positive- Being positive with your children is important, but this tip is actually about how you to talk to others about your children. Do your best to always talk positively about your children, especially when they are present. This doesn’t mean you need to brag about them, but you most certainly don’t need to tell everyone about their struggles or mistakes. If something difficult is going on in their lives, find a positive perspective to talk about. I think this is especially true about teenagers. Society labels teenagers as moody, lazy and difficult. While those words can describe them at times, teenagers also have a lot of hard things going on in their lives. School, friends, hobbies, family life… they face a lot of pressure and hearing your positive words will help encourage them to keep trying harder and stay positive themselves.
I hope you find these tips helpful with your children. Our kids grow up so quickly so let’s make the most of our time with them!