Think about that feeling that consumes you after you watch a news article about a child who faces a tragic situation. Or when you hear about a child with a fatal medical diagnosis.
First, your heart sinks for that poor child. Then, what do you do next?
If you are like me, you quietly tip-toe into your child’s room while they are sleeping. You may whisper you love them, hold them tight, or just brush their hair out of their face.
Or maybe you send them a quick “I love you” text or hug them as they walk by.
Regardless of how you show it, it’s normal for you to face the realization that you sometimes take your kids for granted.
I’ve felt this feeling many times; therefore, I started to wonder how I can live in the moment more when I am spending time with my children.
What is Intentional Parenting?
Imagine that there is a row of rooms in front of you. Think of each room as a place for all of your responsibilities, hobbies, and tasks.
Maybe you have one room for housework, possibly one for your job, one for your husband, a room for your kids, and so on.
When I think of what it means to be an ‘intentional parent’, I imagine that when you are focusing on your children, you are in their room with them. The door is closed and you are absorbed in the moment with them.
Unfortunately for me and many other parents, the doors to our rooms are not closed. In fact, the walls have burned down. Metaphorically speaking, there are kids screaming in your “work room”, the dog is peeing on your “housework room”, and you are worried about vacuuming around the fallen stack of blocks in your “kid room”.
Once I learned what intentional parenting was, I was able to build the walls back up in my “parenting room” and dramatically improve the relationships I had with my children.
These are 5 simple ways to stop taking your kids for granted and live in the moment.
1) Limit Distractions When You are With Your Kids
For me, this was key. Even if I sat down to chat or play with my children, my phone would mysteriously find itself in my hand and my finger would automatically click on the Facebook app.
I’d think, “Let me send this quick text….I will quickly look up a recipe… I wonder what is happening on social media.” If technology was around, I was not fully focusing on my children.
My children noticed it. My son and daughter started to make comments when they saw my mind drift into a virtual daze. Once my daughter said, “Mom, you aren’t paying attention. We are more important than your phone, you know!?”
Unless it is necessary, try to save pointless technology time for when your children are sleeping, not around, or otherwise occupied. They deserve to have your full attention when they are with you.
2) Plan Activities Outside of the House
When you are at home, it is so easy to get wrapped up in other responsibilities and tasks. Occasionally, try to plan out-of-the-house activities. It allows you to focus on your children and reconnect while experiencing new things.
Try going to a zoo, museum, or even a local park. Sometimes, we will even walk around the neighborhood. We chat or make a game, such as ‘who can find the prettiest flower” or “who can find the strangest bug”.
3) Fit in Breaks for Yourself
By any means possible, fit in a break. If you have a chance to spend an hour at the spa, then go for it. If your break looks more like sitting down for a moment while your kid watches TV, that works too!
I used to avoid taking breaks, because I felt guilty, as if I was putting myself before my children. I learned overtime that when I was exhausted, I was an impatient mother. My sudden outbursts and frustrated sighs were more detrimental to my kids than my breaks.
Make sure you feel fresh and energized to enjoy and focus on your children after you take a break.
4) Think About Your Own Childhood
When you reflect on your past, you can use your childhood experiences to shape your own children.
Was there something that you loved about your childhood? For me, I loved growing up in the 90’s. We were glued to our bikes, had deep friendships, and were not overindulged. I am trying to raise my kids like it’s the 90’s by incorporating these mindsets into my parenting style (to read that post, click here)
What negative and positive memories do you have from your childhood? How can you use those to mold your children?
5) Encourage Communication
Talk to your children with an open heart and encourage two-way communication. When your child feels comfortable to talk to you, and senses that you are present in the moment, they will open up to you.
My eye contact, do not act rushed to end the conversation, and listen carefully to them. Whatever other responsibilities you have can surely wait.
Build back up your “parenting room”, by doing these 5 simple things. You will quickly notice what it feels like to parent intentionally, and your child will notice for sure.
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