Want to be a more present parent? Find out when your child needs you the most (no matter their age!) so you can make the biggest impact.
Raising kids in today’s world often comes with a side of busy-ness. Even if we try to not overschedule our families.
By the time we add up our personal schedules, our children’s schedules and our family activities, our calendars can get pretty full – especially for parents with multiple kids.
This is why it’s so important for us to be intentional about our interactions with our kids. Because even though we’re “with” our kids all the time, it’s surprisingly easy to let days go by without being fully present.
Think about it for a second from your child’s point of view. Their typical day might look something like this:
- Wake up
- Go to school for 7-8 hours
- Get home from school
- Grab a quick snack
- Head off to after-school activities
- Eat dinner
- Do homework
- Get ready for bed
- Go to bed
Were you there interacting with them throughout the day and taking them to their various activities? Sure.
But how many of those interactions were meaningful and intentional? And how many of them were just routine?
Of course, we don’t mean for it to be this way. But the nature of our schedules can condition us to go from task to task and place to place without fully engaging with our kids.
So what can we do to change that (and still get to everything on time)?
The answer is simply to work with what we’re already doing, and look for the moments that make the biggest impact. Because becoming a more present parent isn’t just about the quantity of time we’re devoting, but the quality.
6 TIMES TO BE THE PRESENT PARENT YOUR CHILD NEEDS MOST
It doesn’t take much to be more present as a parent. We don’t have to do anything fancy, give up all of our other responsibilities, or even go out of our way much.
All it takes is for us to be mindful in our daily interactions with our kids. To be conscious of how we act and what we do in the moments that matter most.
So what are the most important moments? Here are 6 that are especially meaningful.
1. WHEN YOUR CHILD WAKES UP
Have you ever slept through an alarm, gotten ready in a panic and rushed out the door?
When this happens, your whole morning (and sometimes day) can go on feeling rushed and unsettled. And it can make for a stressful day.
Our kids are the same way. Our first interactions with them can set the tone for their whole day.
This is one reason I love waking up before my kids, especially because I’m not a morning person. It helps me get all the kinks out so I feel refreshed and ready to wake my sleeping circus.
Remember, your kids haven’t seen you in several hours. Look them in the eyes and greet them with a smile and a hug before getting the day started.
2. WHEN YOUR CHILD GETS HOME
After a long day at school or at the end of an extracurricular activity, your kids need you, whether they know it or not. They need to reconnect after their absence and know they are loved and wanted at home.
And luckily, it’s not hard to help them with this transition. It just takes a few moments of being a fully present (and phone-free) parent to greet them and ask them about their day.
Because you are their safe place. You’re just what they need after a day of learning, following directions, and trying to fit in socially.
3. WHEN YOUR CHILD GOES TO BED
Are you noticing a trend here?
Transitions are a pretty important time to support our kids. Which is why I first wanted to mention the 3 that happen every day: when they wake up, when they get home and when they go to bed.
Bedtime is a struggle for so many parents. It’s the end of the day, they’re tired, and getting everyone off to bed is no small feat.
But it’s important to remember that this is often a time when kids open up most. So do individual tuck-ins when you can. Let them speak to you for a minute or two from their pillow. Listen to their bedtime prayers. Hug them and let them know how much they mean to you.
This brief connection can go such a long way.
Trust me, with 4 kids, I know how exhausting bedtime can be. But it’s my favorite way to sneak in a quiet moment with my kids and it’s almost always the time when they confide in me most. So it’s worth it.
4. WHEN SOMETHING STRESSFUL IS COMING UP
Kids get stressed, plain and simple. They’re not always as carefree as we might think. And even though the things they stress out about might seem like nothing to adults, to our kids, they’re huge.
When our kids are feeling stressed, they need us to be aware and supportive. But it’s important to remember that they’re still kids. They haven’t mastered the art of communication yet, and it can be hard to tell if they’re stressed.
Of course, we can try and talk with them. But we can also look for signs. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves:
- Are they acting different lately?
- Are they more withdrawn than usual?
- Are they easily bothered?
- Is there a big change coming?
- Do they have a test coming up?
- Is there something going on with their friends?
- Are they struggling with something hard or new?
Once we determine the cause of their stress, we can help our kids navigate the situation.
5. WHEN YOUR CHILD IS ACTING UP
Often, a change in a child’s behavior is a cry for help. Maybe there is something going on socially or at school that you’re unaware of. Or maybe what they just need some meaningful connection.
Either way, what your child really needs is you. (Though they might not show it.)
6. WHEN YOU’VE LOST YOUR TEMPER
This last one is important, because it happens to all of us. Even the best moms lose their temper.
What your child needs most right then is you. Because even though you’re the one that got mad at them, you’re also the one they want when they feel bad.
TIPS FOR BEING MORE PRESENT AS A PARENT
As parents, we often find ourselves pulled in a million directions. So being a parent who is emotionally present might feel like an overwhelming thing.
Don’t worry. The key isn’t to do more, but to be more intentional in what we’re already doing. Because one of our biggest jobs is to make our kids feel loved, empowered and validated.
That’s what parenting is all about!
But, as parents, we also love tips and advice on how to make it all easier, right? So here are 3 things that will help you make meaningful connections during the 6 critical times from this post:
1. Pause the distractions.
You have a million things to do, but for just a few moments, set it aside. All of it.
Are you looking at your phone when you pick your child up? When you ask them a question, do you sit still long enough to really hear the answer (including their tone and body language)?
Or are you still multitasking?
Nothing says “I’m here and I care” more than dropping everything momentarily to give someone your full attention. And establishing that trust will help your kids open up as they get older because they won’t feel like they’re always a bother or a distraction.
2. Establish routines
I’m such a big believer in routines because they make my life as a mom so much easier. They make it easier to get things done, they help my kids do things on their own, and most importantly – they make sure important things happen on a regular basis.
This is important for connecting when kids wake up, when they get home and when they go to bed. (Head here for a before and after school routine.)
Just remember, the key to establishing routines that stick is to keep them simple.
3. Make time to connect
This post outlined 6 times when your child needs you most. But we also need to find times throughout the day when we can take it a little further.
In order to establish a strong parent-child bond, look for pockets of time throughout the day to intentionally connect with your kids or spend one-on-one time with each child. (Routines are also great for finding these pockets of time!)
Not only will this strengthen your relationship with your kids and help everyone feel happier, but it’ll also help them feel valued and loved as individual members of the family, not just part of a group.
And this, in turn, will make them much more willing to open up to you. You’ll also get to know them better, enabling you to notice when they need you more than usual.
What do you like to do when trying to be a more present parent? Let me know in the comments!
OTHER HELPFUL POSTS:
- Can I Really Fit In One-On-One Time With Multiple Kids?
- Easy Yet Powerful Ways To Connect With Your Child
- Whining 101: Why Kids Whine And How To Make It Stop
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