I run a busy household. I have planners and calendars filled with work commitments, parent teacher meetings, work conferences, and appointments. Even during our less active weeks, I still have laundry, house work, library books to return, and groceries to think about. The go, go, go makes our lives run on auto pilot. We have our routine, and we know the plan and time flies.
However, when I feel like we are rocking our schedule, making every practice on time, and prepping our meals like champs, I have to check in with myself. I have to ask myself if I am actually connecting with my children among all the noise. Yes, I am driving them to sports and play dates. Yes, I am checking the boxes off my to-do list. But sometimes I lay in bed and ask myself, “Did I hug all my children today? Did I ask how they were feeling?”
I have to do a connection check-in with myself. I do not want to get so caught up in the busy I forget to connect to my family. Here are my check-in points and tips I use to make sure I am in connection with my children.
Physical touch is a great way to make a connection with children. But to be honest, I am pretty touched out from wrangling a toddler most of the day, so the last thing I think about is touching or being touched by anyone else. So I try to intentionally hug, hold hands, pat a shoulder as often as I can, especially with my older more independent children. I read somewhere to give yourself a challenge to hug your child 12 times a day. Sometimes I do not know if I come close to half that. But I try to make up for hugging with holding hands, snuggling up while reading, and rubbing their backs while they fall asleep.
I do not like it when people do not make eye contact with me when I am talking or asking a question. It is common and excused more often today as people often work from their phones or laptops. I am very guilty of doing this to my children when I am working or answering emails from home. I try my best to stop whatever I am doing, put my phone down or hands in my lap, and look directly at my child. I take the few seconds to stop and look at them they know they were heard and that’s what matters, even if my response is “I am working on something right now. Can you come back in 10 minutes and we will chat?”
I wish I could say I consistently chat with each child before bedtime, have one-on-one days with them, or have a family meal every night. That’s just not the case for my family. I have to use the time and opportunities available to me and get a bit creative with the time we are together. We chat one on one while waiting for a sibling to get out of practice, or I invite one child to run errands with me on the weekends. I also use things like doctor or dentist appointments as our own little daytime date. The key for me is to listen and truly engage with them as often as I can even if it’s a few minutes a day between school and activities. Make the time count!
Our lives are loud and fast. We have screens everywhere and music playing in each room and we are usually talking over one another about plans or schedules. We try hard to unplug and create a peaceful environment within our home that fosters connection. My goal is to make our home quiet so we can better hear each others needs. In my home this often looks like the whole family on the couch reading together, chatting about the week, or playing a family board game. We do this without the distraction of our phones, electronics, and social media for just a few hours a week so we can tune into each other.