Our journey as parents raising young children is one that yields many joys. But, as we all know, raising a family also comes with challenges. The stresses of our daily routines and responsibilities: ranging from household chores and maintaining relationships, to work outside of the home, community involvement, and time to take care of ourselves can tear us away from our young children when they are seeking our attention.
We all desire to make every moment for our children positive, engaged, and enriched. The reality is that giving all of the time is unrealistic and can lead to burn out and frustration. We need to identify a balance between perfection and what is realistic given the stresses of daily routines, responsibilities and raising a family.
I have found that performing simple acts of family life with intention and reflection can be grounding in my journey to be authentic and intentional as a parent and as an individual.
I have been inspired by the quote from Mother Theresa:
“Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”
Taking these words to heart and merging them with my desire to stay grounded and balanced, I have found that by breaking down my day into meaningful blocks of time with my children has made a positive impact on the flow of my days and has helped me to stay focused on the present moment.Each day I intentionally set aside uninterrupted time (without answering the phone, surfing the internet, or working on housework) to commit time and energy to my children. Activities with my children during this time do not need to be extraordinary, often times the simplest things make the most lasting impact. Some ways I enjoy time with my young children include:
:: connecting with children in nature – walking, hiking, skiing, or exploring
:: experiencing literature -reading a story or listening to my child read
:: sharing meals – sitting together, giving thanks, enjoying good food and conversation
:: creating– crafting organized projects and activities or open-ended art
:: structured learning – interacting through school work, a puzzle, or a game
:: baking & cooking– involving children in the process and celebrating the product
:: listening – following my child’s lead — learning about his or her unique, developing personality and interests through active engagement
In my experiences, the range of these activities has varied throughout the seasons. I work outside of my home as a teacher for nine months of the year, and I am able to stay at home with my children over the summer, weekends, and holidays. Some days I have more time and energy to commit to giving. Other days I have to be selective and more intentional to commit my undivided attention to my children – being called by the laundry piling up, unanswered emails, or sleep deprivation.
I have found that sharing meaningful, uninterrupted time with my children becomes a valued habit. Instead of being pulled in many directions, I consciously make myself present to my children and to myself.
Children grow to understand the balance between time with parent interaction and that of independence. They learn to rest, play, and imagine without constant direction.
I feel balanced knowing that I am committing blocks of quality time to my children, while still giving myself time throughout the day to complete necessary responsibilities, to reflect and to recharge.
We are constantly learning and experimenting on our journey of parenthood and our experiences with our children. I offer you these thoughts in hopes you can capture some wonderful, undistracted moments throughout your days with the children in your life. Keep giving, loving, and learning and always remember to work to create a balance in your life that keeps things manageable so that you are able to truly enjoy these passing moments of early childhood with your children.
Megan Devine lives with her husband and four children on the edge of the wilderness in Northern Minnesota. She is an early childhood educator and enjoys learning from all of the wonderful children that surround her in her life. Megan can be reached at via email here.