The past few months have been really trying. I have always loved choosing to staying home rather than going out all the time and I am always promoting contentment with doing exactly that, but IT.HAS.BEEN.SO.HARD. There is so much going on in the world and I am not good with the ‘unknown’, but I usually manage and figure it out. The most trying part of what I have been going through has been that of being a ‘mom’ and a mom trying to navigate how to help my children get through some really trying times. It has been hard… I. will. not. lie. The hardest part has been nurturing and fostering the emotional health of myself as well as my children. For more on my quarantine thoughts on “mothering” read my latest post on that HERE.
As mothers we can be struggling with a current situation but then have to (in the very same moment and challenging situation) soothe, calm and reassure our little ones. It takes a lot of deep digging and pushing past my own fear and emotions to be strong for them right now…but I DO IT…and the hard work is so worth it. Ever since my children were little babies, I have always placed an importance on providing each of my children “one-on-one” time in order to foster our relationship with each one individually. The benefits that we reap are tremendous — especially for the amount of effort and resources that we sow into such a harvest. As life gets busy, it can be easy to simply NOT put intentional time aside for each of them and we eventually see the consequences of this on the flip side as well. There is ALWAYS a reason that children act out — ALWAYS. I am a very reflective mother. I do not beat myself up about mistakes and missteps, rather, I am always seeking to improve and be proactive with my children and their development. It has taken me YEARS to get to this point, because as a motherless mother (my whole mothering career) I have had years of complete uncertainty and insecurity about how to actually DO THIS THING called mothering. Scheduling intentional one-on-one time with my children has been the single most effective parenting strategy that I have ever used with some of the quickest and most positive results.
In the beginning of quarantine, I slipped. I was thrown off by the chaos of it all. I was tossed around by the gravity of the “new normal” that we were all dealing with and you know what? One-on-one time suffered. I began to wonder why I felt so at odds as a mom…why behaviors were changing and tempers were flaring…and then…I stopped. I noticed that one-on-one time had stopped as so many other things had stopped. However, I quickly came to realize that this was one thing that I just could NOT afford to let go of during this time. Something HAD to change. After a few months of getting my bearings at home during family isolation, we began our one-on-one time again, and LET ME TELL YOU… we saw INSTANT changes. The payoff was HUGE and the gratification was instant. Our children NEED US. Let me repeat that…they need US. They don’t need all the stuff, the activities, and all the extras…they just need us. So let’s talk about that for a minute.
For us, one-on-one time doesn’t have to be activity based (this may work better for children under 7) but it ALWAYS happens without digital devices and/or distractions. We escape to a quiet area of the house and spend time ALONE. Lately, it has been just the two of us chatting and talking about fears, desires, the future and things of the like, but it can be about whatever your child wants it to be about. For me, I always am conscious about how much talking I do and try to listen more than I talk. I also do a LOT of reassuring. I want my kids to feel safe and connected as much as possible. I want them to feel comfortable sharing and opening up to me and sharing their inner most thoughts and feelings–without judgement. One-on-one time can be every day or once a week; for me it is about having set times and sticking to them. With this, we make a large chunk of time once a week (my kids are tween/young teenager) and you can set this to whatever works for you and your child’s age and/or development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics there are numerous benefits to a child’s development including promoting their social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills. I now make the space in my week to spend one-on-one time with my children even when it can be a challenge because setting this time aside is like making an investment in the single most important asset that I have. It helps me to forge bonds and strong foundations that are preparing me for even more difficult conversations and topics. This time communicates to my children that not only do they matter to me, but they MATTER MOST.