“Enjoy it, it goes by fast.”
I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard this.
It used to bother me so much. I just couldn’t understand the point of why people felt the need to tell me this.
Don’t you think I know that between the endless chores, hectic schedules, work, and school, I need to find a way to enjoy my kids in the midst of all this chaos? And making me feel guilty about not enjoying it more was certainly not helping.
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However, now the phrase doesn’t bother me because I finally realized something very important. It has nothing to do with you and is all about them.
They are grieving. They still have their son or daughter, but they do not have their child anymore and they are grieving.
And I finally realized this when a grandmother started crying watching my two girls play and explained to me just how much she missed it.
And yes, I know one day I will miss this too. That isn’t the reminder I need. Instead, I need to be reminded of the little easy ways to cherish each day.
Ways that I can connect with my kids. Ways that my kids can feel loved. Things that I can actually do so I “enjoy it”.
This list is certainly not novel. I am not reinventing the wheel, but I find that it is so easy to get caught up in life that we often forget these simple things that can make a big difference.
Hug them every day
If your kids watch Trolls, then I am sure you are aware of the hug watch. Some days I wish I had a hug watch because I do need to be reminded to hug my kids.
Children need physical touch. There are countless studies that show the more affectionate you are, the happier your kid will be in the long run.
What a simple thing to do for once in the parenting realm that can make such a big difference.
It’s why weighted blankets help children sleep. It’s like being wrapped all night in a big secure hug.
I try really hard to remember to hug my kids in the morning, before and after school, whenever they leave the house and before bed. By making it habit, it is more likely to happen and my kids ask for them when I forget.
I honestly am going to hug my kids until they won’t let me.
And then I’m still going to try because I don’t think anyone is ever too old for a hug.
A wake-up routine
When they first wake up, it is a brand-new day. Those first few minutes can set the tone for the day. Make waking up fun.
I wake up before my kids (or at least try to) even if it’s just 20 minutes before. This way I am up and can greet them happily instead of groggily.
I like to wake my kids up with back rubs if they are still sleepy. My mom used to sing a song to me every morning. I like to tell them how excited I am to start the day with them and all the things we are going to do for the day.
An extra bonus is connecting right away makes the morning go by so much better. The cooperation you will get is amazing.
Give them Special Notes
My mom always added a sticky note with a note, smiley face or picture to my lunch every day.
I can’t tell you what a single one said but I do remember the surge of happiness and love I felt when I read them. They really helped me finish the school day when it was a bad day.
Here are a few ways to add special notes to your kids’ days:
- In their lunch boxes
- On their bed for when they come home
- Add a mailbox outside their door for mail
Remember it can be a silly face, a picture, a card, simple note, or even a letter. You can also trade off days with your other half. You can both do it every day too.
It can really help if they are missing you such as in school. If one parent gets home a lot later or works long shifts, then have that parent leave a special note for them. That way they still feel the love even if you aren’t home for bedtime, etc.
After school routine
The minute your kids get off the bus or jump in your car after school, connect with them. They will be wanting to tell you all about their day. If you wait, then the moment is over.
Additionally, if something went bad, they might not be willing to tell you later. However, connecting right away will help them feel secure and loved.
The routine I use to ensure my kids and I connect after school in a fun way is that we do two truths and a lie. They absolutely love the game and we all have a good laugh over the crazy things they come up with.
You can also do a snack time together or play a board game after school with your kids. Maybe you always grab bagels after school or just on Fridays as a special treat. Just pick something that works for your family and stick with it.
Throughout the day I am constantly asked by my kids to do things either for them or with them. One way to reduce the whining and tears when I can’t do it at that moment is that I do a check-in time.
What is check-in time? Every day, I give them my complete undivided attention to do whatever they want to do. It doesn’t have to be long; a simple 15 minutes will work. It is just a way to make sure they feel heard and get that oh so precious mommy time.
I have also learned kids will go to great lengths to get that attention if they can’t find it with you.
Things that we might do during this time are:
- have their favorite snack
- fix a broken toy
- help with homework
- learn something together
- practice a sport
- read their favorite book
- do an art project
- sometimes, they just want me to listen or they want to show me things or just have me watch them play.
Dinner time is such a wonderful time to connect as a family. We try to eat together as much as possible.
When I was little, my mom would let one of us pick out the table cloth every night. I absolutely loved doing this. My mom had gone to a fabric store and picked out a bunch of fun kid fabrics. She then cut it to size with pinking shears so it wouldn’t fray.
My favorite ones were themed robots, balloons and space. I really remember the fun I had in getting this responsibility and how much more I liked eating dinner because there was a fun design on the table.
Another dinner time tradition that I added for my own kids is each child is in charge of one dinner a week. This all is with my help of course. This means that before the week starts, each one will pick a meal. They will then add the ingredients needed to the grocery list and help cook that night.
It is a great way to teach a life skill and spend quality time with your kid. They also get to feel valued and that they’re contributing to the family.
Another fun dinner time activity is to start each dinner out with a silly or fun question. All too often, our dinner table becomes adult talk and we forget to include kids in the conversation.
Another fun one is that everyone takes a turn talking about their day. If you have some picky toddler eaters, definitely add this game to your nightly dinner to get them to get some new foods.
The bedtime routine
Putting my kids to bed is sometimes the hardest part of my day because by this point, I’m exhausted.
However, I know that I want my kids to go to bed feeling like a million bucks. I think there is no better way to end the day. Therefore, our bedtime routine is the usual of reading books, brushing teeth, and putting on pajamas, but it also includes a chatting session at the end.
I like to start out by talking about everything that they did that day and reflecting over it. I follow up with asking them what their favorite part of the day was.
I then tell them my favorite part of the day, such as “I loved watching you swim at the pool today” or “I felt so lucky to spend time with you at the park” or “I was so proud at how hard you worked on your school project”.
I end with tucking them into bed with an I love you.
Pursue a memory with your kids today
Not every day is perfect and usually far from it. These are the things I strive to do every day. Making sure you enjoy motherhood with all of the chaos can be as simple as a special note in their lunch box or bedtime cuddles. Throughout the years, they will remember the effort you put in and the time you spent together. So, start by just adding one thing to your every day.
There are three really important times each day: when they wake up, when they come home from school and when they go to bed. These are the perfect times to connect with your kid. They are also great places for routines so that you can create some awesome memories.
What are some ways you make your kids feel loved every day? I’d love to hear from you in comments!