Trying to find relevant, credible, realistic parenting advice online is a crap shoot. There are hundreds and thousands of sites you can search through, trying to find a style that fits your approach and comes from a credible source. So I was pretty excited to find a New Brunswick-based parenting coach with a focus on gentle parenting who was sharing information I wanted – and I just couldn’t keep her to myself! Alison Smith lives in Quispamsis with her family and is a wealth of online and in-person support.
Alison recently shared some thoughts on connecting with your kids that really resonated with me, but also left me wondering how to make those important moments happen when chaos seems to have taken hold before you even wake up. So I asked her to share some tips with all of the Pickle Planet community!
Hey there, Pickle Planet People! I’m thrilled to have been invited to share some tips with you about staying connected during the chaos of family life. That busyness and commotion can really get in the way of feeling close to our kids. Unfortunately though, the more disconnected we feel from each other, the more pandemonium can ensue. Then, well … you can see the pattern here!
The best way to interrupt this cycle is by focusing on the connection with our child. By nurturing those warm, fuzzy feelings of closeness with our child, we have the potential to turn even the worst day around. So let’s start with how we can do that during key moments in our day and notice how we are able to shift the mood in our home whenever a reset is needed.
Mornings will obviously go more smoothly when we feel like we’re all on the same team. Allow for a few extra minutes at wake up time to give a positive, joyful good morning. You can offer a snuggle. A wrestle. Tell them about a silly dream you had. Or have them tell you what they’re looking forward to. This may create a resilient bubble of happiness to protect both of you from the trials of the day. This is the gift that keeps on giving, because if we handle our day better, we’re in better shape when we’re back together in the evening.
Your next tip isn’t about what to do. Rather, it’s about what to avoid! You know what it’s like when you rush around barking orders and flinging lunch bags? You’re at greater risk of grumpiness and disconnection from your child. And when you’re stressed, you tend to push. Then your child is more likely to push back. Get as much ready the night before as possible, to set yourself up for a more relaxed and easy morning. A much healthier way to head out the door!
Eating as many meals together as possible each week will help everyone feel closer and therefore more likely to cooperate. Maybe your breakfast is in liquid caffeine form. We can work with that. Grab an extra large from the carafe and sit down with your littles while you all fuel up for the day. Mealtimes are prime connection opportunities. You’re all a captive audience for one another!
Evening meals are great for a good debrief, a laugh, or healthy debates about current hot topics. In our family, we like to share what we’re grateful for. It keeps us focused on the positive and is useful for learning what is important to our kids.
I can still recall the first time my then two-year old stopped the meal, looked me right in the eye and asked, “Momma, what you happy ‘bout?” They do hear us sometimes and they can be so sweet.
Bedtime. Ah yes, the word that can strike fear in the hearts of parents everywhere. I’m not promising rainbow unicorn kittens here, but a few tweaks to your routine can go a long way to making this time easier. This is definitely an essential time of the day for your child; big or small. They may have lots of thoughts, worries, or emotions to process. They need a compassionate parent to help them settle for a restful night’s sleep. Let them end their day with a little undivided attention from you, and your relationship will flourish.
A connected child is a more cooperative child. That closeness is really good for you, too. There’s nothing in the world like the unconditional love and admiration of a 4-year in a good mood. And a warm, contented bedtime cuddle doesn’t hurt either.
Looking for more tips on ways to connect with your child? You can download a free guide with 20 Tips at www.alisonsmithcoaching.com/freeguide. Want personalized answers to your parenting questions? Book a free 20-minute consultation with Alison, or sign up for an in-depth strategy session. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.