Engage with your child everyday
In the last article, I wrote about The Whys of Dad’s role in shaping their child’s behaviour, this one is about The Hows.
The inexorable march of time that turns babies into toddlers, schoolers, tweens, teens and before you realise they are adults. My daughter is in her teens, I remember the day she was born as if it was just yesterday. If you feel the same too, then you are not alone; children will not remember the shiny new toys you got them or the expensive gadgets, they remember the time they spent with their parents and especially dads. Let me ask you a question do you remember how many toys your dad gifted you? Or your best memories are a holiday together or a routine walk where you traded stories? If you are still with me, then read on.
Our lives are run by Google calendars, carefully planned each hour at the office. But when it comes to free time, the struggle is dividing it between me-time, sleep and family time. Here is how I manage that time, hopefully, it helps you too. And spending this time with them comes at the most unexpected spaces in the day’s course - yes, while you get quality time at a picnic or nature’s reserve, but it may also happen in the car on the way to their dance practice.
Practice Parenting Meditation - When you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, it is easy to go into auto pilot with your kids and probably lose out on those few precious moments. Instead, try to stay in the moment in which you focus on seeing your kids, hearing them, actively understanding them. Watching them play, share stories, help them with homework just be in the moment, it will help you to de-stress too.
Take Pajama Walks - The hour before sleep can be chaotic, especially with young children. One of the best ways to calm them down - if the weather permits - is to take them for a short pyjama walk. Not only will it help your child to calm down but also give some time to speak to you about things that they’ve probably wouldn’t have in front of the TV. By the time you’re back, they will be fresh-air tranced and ready for bed. Also, If you have to drop your kids somewhere close like a neighbourhood park or friend’s house, try walking instead of driving. The few minutes that we save by driving are actually great moments to get talking and slowing down the pace a bit. Tell them what you think, what your plans are, ask them about what they are excited about or more about their friends, etc. Hold hands if your kids haven’t gotten too cool for that yet, but make these moments special by putting in small efforts into your daily life.
Have Special Dinner Nights - Dinner with the family is special in itself, but your kids will be even more eager to engage in the dinner if your meal has a theme. Weekend dinners at their favourite restaurant is fine but I’m talking about weekdays, you can cook anything, from plain eggs the way your child likes to a fancy Mexican dish, make sure they engage in the process of understanding the process of cooking, enrich themselves culturally and broaden their knowledge by exchanging some general knowledge about the food preparation. They can probably also help in washing the vegetables, or setting up the dinner table so that these skills are inculcated from early on and they also have fun while doing it. Your wife will appreciate it too if you are one of those spoilt husbands, like me, who cooks once in a while.
Mr Fix-It - Whenever a situation arises that demands fixing or repairing, always try to involve your children in it. Home improvement is a great way to get the conversations flowing and understand the dynamics and responsibilities of keeping a household afloat. Ask them to hold the flashlight, talk to them. Once they’re older, hold the flashlight for them, and so on.
Shared hobby - More often than not, your children will have few interests common to yours, programmed in their DNA. I like music, my children love music too, we love talking about music, listening to music together and have Karaoke nights at home. This is my favourite way to spend time with my children. Pick yours - if you play a musical instrument, teach or practice with them if you don’t have a hobby, then see what your child likes to do, it will also help you to peep inside your own childhood and remember that is what you liked as a child too but just couldn’t keep up with the inexorable march of time.