With work, chores, money worries and stress, how often do we actually take time to stop and just enjoy our children?
You sit down with your toddler to play but as she happily stacks her bricks, your mind whirrs: Do I have time for this?
There’s the washing to do, that work email to respond to, dinner to cook…
As parents, we have so many jobs to do that we often forget to slow down and enjoy our children.
Mother’s Day is the perfect moment to take stock.
Fi Star-Stone, parenting advisor at childcareisfun.co.uk, says: ‘We are often so busy that we don’t notice the little things our children are showing us, things which may seem unimportant, but which one day will be the things we wished we’d stopped to notice — that hand-print painting, the Lego tower, or the special sticker given by the teacher.
‘It’s so easy not to pay proper attention, because jobs and tasks take priority.’
Children are aware of this.
Fi says: ‘Upset, worry and relationship stress can all be picked up by them.’
So if you long to slow down and enjoy your children, but feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, what can you do?
Fi says: ‘Set aside some quality time — even for just 10 minutes at the end of a busy day. Turn off technology and screens.
‘Get your children to tell you three awesome things and one rubbish thing about their day. It sounds simple, but you’ll hear things you never thought you would.’
As parents, we can forget that taking time out to play with our children can be beneficial for us too. The ‘feel-good’ hormone oxytocin is released when we interact and bond with our kids.
Fi says: ‘Playing with your little one isn’t exactly a relaxing spa break, but the pause from the hum-drum routine focuses the mind on something else for a moment. Trying something like baby or toddler massage can be relaxing for you both.’
If you are worried or have lots do to, making lists or keeping a journal can help you order your thoughts and clear your head.
Fi says: ‘Routine is key. Make one-on-one time part of your routine. If you have “play-time” scheduled into your busy day, you’ll find it easier to stick to rather than “we’ll play after I’ve put the wash on or answered this email”.’
Interaction can be woven into other things you do, such as a simple walk.
Fi says: ‘Fresh air works wonders for tired mums and is great for fraught toddlers and babies too. A face-to-face pram is perfect for chats with your child about the world around them.’
So, this Mother’s Day, if you long to play or talk more to your children but feel overwhelmed by life and chores, remember to pause — because these young years don’t last forever.
Edited by Julie Cook
5 things to do this Sunday
Switch off. Put the phone on silent, turn off the TV and read together or play a game.
Kitchen dance. Music is good for the soul and the grumpiest of toddlers or pre-teens. Try having a dance-off in the kitchen to lift your mood.
Recharge. Take time for yourself. Mother’s Day is a good starting point. Don’t feel guilty about regular me-time — a happy mum means a happy child.
See the positives. Parenting isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Look for the positives in stressful situations.
Join a class. Enrol in a mum-and-toddler class such as baby sensory or swimming, so that each week you set time aside to bond with and focus on your little one.
For more information, visit childcareisfun.co.uk