Ummm...Parenting is HARD. I'm sure that's not news to anyone at this point. We try desperately to give our all to our children, our careers, our marriage and the endless to-do's, worries and things to research are always looming.
In the midst of all of this chaos, are we losing sight of what's really most important? I want my daughter to know that she comes before any work or social commitment. For her to feel my love even when I'm not physically with her. I definitely don't have it all figured out, but I do know that I want her to feel like she is my priority (and for me to feel like that too!).
There's no magical answer and every family is different, but here are 5 ways I have found to create a bond with your little one and cut down on the chaos of life:
1. Be Present — Put the phone down in the evening during family time, plan a 1:1 activity for the weekend or dedicate 10 minutes a day to focused play with no distractions. You probably can’t focus on your child 100% of the time but make the most impact with the time that you have together.
2. Incorporate your child into daily activities — Your child likes being with you. If you love to cook, teach them to "cook" next to you on the counter. Give them a manageable task. Do toddler yoga together. Bring them to the grocery store and narrate what you see. It might be faster / easier to accomplish tasks alone, but all activities have potential for brain building and connections — and more importantly — core memory building possibilities. You'll also contribute to their sense of ownership and validate their contributions to the family.
3. Maintain a schedule — Young children can’t anticipate what’s coming next on their own, but they thrive with a set routine. Cut down on the chaos by setting up a schedule for your family. Do your best to maintain a daily routine — for both parent and child. I have a friend whose 3-year-old son would ask about “the schedule” for the next day every night at bedtime. He knew it by heart, “Wake up, watch a video, eat breakfast, go to preschool…etc.” Knowing what was coming next is grounding for everyone and cuts down the feeling of chaos.
4. RSVP No — You don’t have to participate in everything. It’s ok to occasionally turn down a playdate invite, just do one extracurricular activity at time, or guard Friday as family movie night. FOMO is real, but exhaustion can also negatively affect relationships. It's okay to snuggle up and veg out!
5. Take a break — It’s healthy for everyone to have a little time apart — and it makes your time together more special. So, book that babysitter, send the kids to grandma for the night, or sign-up them up for that day camp! They will gain independence and you will get a much needed breath.
Studies have shown that creating connection with our children in the early years, especially the first five years of life, are shown to have lasting effects. Children take away a sense of confidence knowing that they can tackle big challenges or come to you with a problem when they need you. On a mountain of "to-dos," slowing down and being present is our most important task when it comes to raising littles! You've got this.
Editor's note: These tips are an except from an article originally written for Authority Magazine. You can read the full article here.