If you read the title and then said “Ice is back with my brand new invention,” you have made my day! But, today’s post is not about Vanilla Ice. It is about listening to your kids and giving them your undivided attention! Let me give you an example from my home and you can tell me whether or not you relate:
It is about 4pm in the afternoon on any given school day. We have finished up homework and I am busy doing some work on the computer. One of my children walks up next to me and talks for a good minute or two. I am so focused on whatever it is that I am doing that I just decide to answer with a simple, “uh huh.” Child walks away and a minute later I hear the front door slam.
I snap back into mommy-mode and start thinking, “What the heck did they just ask me? And which child was that who asked me the question anyway?” I am then out the door yelling for one of my kids and asking where they are going and what they are doing.
“You said it was OK if I went up to Ben’s house, Mom.”
“Oh, that’s right!” (attempted laugh) “OK, have fun!”
I then saunter back into the house thinking about what a crappy mom I am and how I need to pay more attention to my kids.
I decide to take a break from work and give some extra attention to the daughter who is left in the house. I stroll into her room ask if she’d like to cozy up on the couch to read a book with me.
“Nah, I just started playing with my Barbies, so I will probably just keep playing that right now.”
Sheesh. Knife through the heart, right?
Sound familiar? Why is it that when we have things to do the kids are all over us demanding attention? Then, when we are all finished up for the day and we just want to cuddle with that quickly growing child, they want nothing to do with us? (Read my Finding the Balance blog for more on this topic!!)
What I have learned in my short almost nine years of being a mom is that the times when the kids DO want us are going to get less and less frequent. They will probably want nothing to do with us in the teenage years, but then when weddings and babies come along they will be right back in our arms asking for help.
But what I urge all of us to do now is Stop. Stop what you are doing whenever your child needs your attention. Whether that child is one-year-old or eighteen, just stop and listen. Listen to what they are telling you and look them in the eye. Let them know you care. Let them know that whatever it is you are working on at that moment does not matter at all in comparison to whatever your child may need.
Then I challenge you to do this same thing when you are spending time together. For example, when you go to the zoo, or go out to dinner, or decide to play a board game. Be in the moment! Don’t answer your phone. Don’t text your friends. Don’t ignore them when they keep asking you annoying questions.
Right now the endless chatter will drive you nuts, but 10 years from now you will be yearning for it!
(Photo above is my dad, sister and me … many many years ago!)