The Most Important Things You Should Be Doing With Your Kids Right Now
As the saying goes, “your children will grow up in the blink of an eye.” One day there is a sweet baby sleeping in your arms, and the next thing you know, that baby is going away to college. Sometimes in the chaos of parenthood, it’s hard to take a step back and really savor the moments you have with your children. Between balancing schedules, meals, projects, activities, bath times and bedtimes, there are days you might feel like it takes all you have in you just to get through the day. But, your children will grow and change as quickly as the days go by. As difficult as it is to make time for everything in your daily life, the following is a list of the most important things you should be doing with your children today.
Interact With Them
This might sound funny to you at first. “Of course I interact with my children!” you’re thinking. You talk to them, you play with them, you eat meals with them… but how much do you truly interact with them on an intimate level? It’s so easy to half- heartedly respond to your child’s questions while you’re busy cooking dinner or doing the laundry, or to spout off commands without really taking the time to see how they comprehend or react to what you’re saying. But the simple act of looking your child in the eyes when they are talking to you will help you get into the habit of intimate interaction.
While our job as parents is to love and nurture and raise our children into healthy, vibrant adults, we can often overlook the fact that they are already unique individuals in their own right. They have feelings and emotions and express humility and pride and love and confusion – everything that we value and are sensitive to in other adults. But, because they’re little, and not fully mature, we can sometimes overlook the fact that they need us to place the same value on our interactions with them as we do with other adults. When your children are speaking to you – even if they are just saying hello for the 100th time – take a moment out of whatever you’re doing, make eye contact with them and show them that what they’re saying to you is important and well received.
Teach Them Your Values & Explain Your Actions
Your children watch everything you do. They absorb knowledge and information like a sponge, and copy your actions to explore their own capabilities. Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, it is never too early or too late to teach them your values. Every day, in every action, you have the opportunity to teach your children why you do things a certain way, and show them how to take pride in their actions. Explain to your little ones that you wash the dishes after every meal because you take pride in and value a clean home. They will take this information in and learn to value it as well. Explain to them why you find it important to say prayers before bed or to brush your teeth twice a day. Nothing is insignificant in a child’s eyes. They will watch you do these things everyday, but they won’t understand the importance of them unless you teach them and explain your actions.
Answer Every Question
Even if your child is in the infamous “why?” phase, it’s important to answer all of his questions. As mentioned before, children are absorbing information like sponges every moment of every day. Their questions might seem unimportant or even annoying to you when you’re busy, but they are extremely important to them. They come to you with their curiosity about the world and their surroundings. Dismissing their questions, no matter how insignificant they may seem, might discourage them from continuing their quest for knowledge. Remember that the world is new to them, and it is your job to introduce them to all of its wonders.
This is more for you than for your children. It’s so easy to get caught up in the tasks of the day. You’ll find in the chaos of parenthood, how quickly your days turn into weeks and your weeks turn into years. Take a few moments each day to really observe your children. Watch them intently as they play, as they sleep, as they eat, as they tell you a story. Take in their expressions, their gestures, their mannerisms. Embed these moments – the way they look and sound and smell – in your head. Years from now, you will have photos and even videos, but your memory will be your most sacred recollection of the youth of your children.
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Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder