Wherever you are, be all there April 14 2015 1 Comment
One of the biggest concerns for parents of more than one child is how to give all of your children equal attention. And ENOUGH attention. Obviously the more children you have, the harder this can get. For me, when we had our twins, I found this to be especially difficult as they are often needing the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Firstly I will say that I have not mastered this skill yet, but I am always conscious of finding ways to do this better. Amongst all of the other things Mums can feel guilty about, feeling that one of your children is being ‘left out’ or not given the attention they deserve, is heart breaking. This is unavoidable at times and as Mums we always need to prioritise and of course, often something has to give.
What I have found works for me is to focus on the little things. I try to make the fleeting every day moments I get with one one of my children individually count. If the little things are memorable, then it will all add up. Right? Please tell me I’m right!?
Like most families, we spend a lot of time driving in the car. Most of the trips are short and sweet but they are an opportunity for a little bonding time. Unless the situation requires a little bit of loud music and a dance-athon, I try to have the radio off and never use my phone when the kids are in the car. A captured audience often results in an excellent conversation. Finding out little details of their day or their thoughts on the world whizzing by the window is very interesting to me. Their unique stories and thoughts can be very insightful, if not humorous. When they are given a quiet moment to speak and know that I am fully listening, you can see their little bodies get a lift. It’s their little stage and their little 15 seconds of fame that day.
Getting all four kids dressed, packed up and rounded out of the house is another challenge. Even with the prospect of a scooter ride to their favourite cafe at the end of the tunnel, this can be a mission. So as I bend down to once again help put on another pair of shoes, I use the opportunity for a quick cuddle and perhaps a little secret whisper about what plans we have for our adventure ahead. We reminisce (again) about the Peppa Pig concert we went to last year as we put on their favourite Peppa Pig t-shirt and we gloat about how we are going to “beat” all of our brothers to get dressed. We exchange a knowing wink as we quickly grab the “fastest” scooter and “coolest” helmet before the others and we delight in the little wins.
Another delight for them is going to the supermarket alone with me. There is something about sitting (or standing) in the front of that trolley being almost at eye level to Mum and going up and down the aisles that is an adventure to them. They thrive on the prospect that they will get to choose some of their favourite treats to take home and distribute to the others that makes them feel very important. To you, it may be an everyday mundane task that you want to get out of the way as fast as possible. To them it is not. Make it an adventure, if only for ten minutes.
What I am trying to point out here is that there is always an opportunity to share something special with your child if you just slow down and notice it. Trust me, this definitely does not happen on the first day back at school after a lovely holiday break. On those mornings I can be a big scary witch (their words, not mine) but in every day life I try hard to be in the moment.
Wherever you are, be all there.
At its simplest, I just reflect on what that child is doing at that moment. Down at their level, gazing at them, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, kids just enjoy the focused attention. You have to do it anyway, so you may as well make them feel that there is nowhere else you would rather be than tying their shoe lace with them. Again.
Bed time is another obvious opportunity for one-on-one attention and I unfortunately could write a book about how to NOT establish the best bed time routine. As much as I have tried over many many years, with each consecutive pregnancy, newborn, toddler and cheeky older brother, our evenings have become more drawn out. Along with the snowballing exhaustion with each child, the end result for me is that I now have to lie down with each child for either a book or a good chat and a quiet cuddle before they eventually drift off to sleep. Luckily the twins love me to combine them together. Phew.
This probably sounds blissful and trust me, sometimes it is. But combine that with an older brother interrupting and Dad arriving home and the twins sneaking out of bed AGAIN……this process can be long and frustrating. I have learnt to focus on the positive aspects of it and know that before long I will have four stinky teenagers in the house who refuse even a quick kiss, let alone the thought of me climbing under their donna with them for a cuddle and a chat!
At the end of another busy day where perhaps they have felt too rushed or a little bit neglected or their patience has again been tested waiting for my attention, I want them to know one thing.
Of all the things I do and of all the people I am, I always tell them