We live in a fast-paced world where we rush from one thing to another. We start the day rushing the children out the door so we can drop them off on our way to work, then we spend all day at work thinking about what has to happen after work. Back to pick up the children, take them to sport or music lessons then get them home, cook dinner and start the homework process before hitting the bed late at night, ready to do it all again the next day.
By the time we get to the weekend, we are totally exhausted, but it doesn't stop there. Usually, there are more sporting activities, fundraising events and any number of parties. Throughout it all, we just keep going without much thought to what we are actually doing other than meeting all the obligations we have committed to.
Whoever said this parenting gig was easy has obviously never had children. It's not easy, it's the hardest job you will ever do in your life and you only get one shot at it with each child. You only get one chance to enjoy them. You only get one chance to really see and feel what is happening in their world.
When you rush from place to place, you tend to forget that you are actually raising children, not just keeping them busy and meeting deadlines. Your job is to be there with them through all they go through, not just physically, but also mentally. Sometimes that is a tough call when you have so much else going on in your life, but out of everything you do; work, paying bills, housework etc. etc. nothing is more important than being present in the life of your child.
The one thing parents regret when their children grow up is that they didn't treasure the little things while they had the chance. They didn't take the time to smell the flowers or make daisy chains. They gave up those experiences in exchange for running around to meet endless deadlines, but never really appreciating what went on in the day of their child.
If you recognize your own routine here, then please take some time to read the five ways you can be more present with your child. You won't regret it.
- Ask your child what they want to do. Don't assume that just because you were great at swimming that your child will want to do the same. Ask them what they are interested in. Find out what they like doing and let them explore that direction. They will come to their own conclusions as to whether they really like it or would like to try something else. The important thing is that they enjoy what they are doing without feeling pressure to perform well.
- Don't overbook your child. It is one thing to want a child to do well and to enjoy extracurricular activities, but it is to their detriment when you book them into so many activities that life is just about driving from one place to the next and rushing around. Let them excel at one activity. They don't need to have an activity every night of the week. It is OK for them to just be children and go home after school, watch TV, play with their friends and do their homework.
- Don't overbook yourself. It is fantastic to take part in the fundraising activities at your child's school or sporting event etc., but you don't have to do everything. You don't have to take on all the roles thrown your way. It is important that you actually take the time to enjoy the event with your child. It is OK to say no when asked to participate in too many things.
- Turn off all devices. Spend the time actually watching your child doing what they love. Absorb their happiness in playing sport, learning music or whatever their interest is. Share their joy at learning new skills and don't be preoccupied by work, social media or online games. You will never get this chance again.
- Enjoy the simple things. Life doesn't have to be structured all the time. The children don't have to be involved in sports and lessons all the time. Make sure you spend time on the weekends just being a family. Have picnics in the backyard, go to the beach and collect shells, go bush-walking together or anything else that feels like it is great fun and stress-free. You will all benefit from being together as a family and the down time for the everyday routine. You will also be able to connect with nature, which is vitally important in our busy world.
Parenting is something many never get to enjoy. There is no way to get back the lost opportunities and special moments. Make sure you make the most of your parenting journey while you can.