Here is a secret to enjoying children: parenting in a slowed down life is 10 times more fun than parenting rushed.
How can we free up more time for our children? Well, it may mean waiting with some things, or even letting them pass by. For example, being on that committee, upgrading our qualification, or even just trying to achieve a weed free garden! One older mother once said to me; ‘everything you say yes to, means saying no to something else‘.
The weeds and countless opportunities will ALWAYS be there, our children will NOT. They will grow up faster than we can believe. Once they are teens they won’t ask us to sit and play lego or read them a story anymore.
Two of our daughters have already grown big and are living far away and I’m still stunned. Like, how did that happen so fast? Now it is rare to even get everyone in a family photo!
So slow down now. You can speed up later if you really want to!
If you’d like to do more sweet things with your kids, and less rushing like grownups, here comes a batch of ideas. Sweet ideas.
Some simple ways to have more sweet times with your kids.
Practice being child-like. Sit down and play! If you forgot how to, your kids can give you a refresher course. Build legos, go for a bike ride, play with play dough or bake cookies. Maybe you could even sleep out with them in the cubby on a summers night.
Saturday lollies. One of our family traditions was getting the kids some candy each Saturday and only on Saturday. In Sweden this has been a tradition for a very long time. Our kids found it very exciting and I am sure their teeth benefitted from zero lollies the rest of the week! (Additional bonus is that they never complained at the supermarket as they could happily go and choose their lollies for me to buy and put away until Saturday.)
Saturday pancake breakfasts. It is so festive to have a special and slower breakfast on Saturdays! A lot of families do this and we have done it on and off for decades.
Have a Birthday tablecloth. We have a particular tradition on Birthdays and it is a special tablecloth. We use this colourful cloth for every Birthday, and only on Birthdays. I got this adorable idea from my neighbour Eva when we lived in Sweden. That cloth brings back hundreds of memories from all our Birthdays! It is especially great if you move or travel a lot as it is a very portable tradition! If you get one, get a good quality one so it will last long term.
Doing things really out of the ordinary.
Occasionally doing something zany or out of the ordinary is fantastic! My favourite memory with my Dad was one time when he woke me up very early and took me to Kings Park in Perth and we played on the playground. We got the fun playground equipment all to ourselves as it was so early. That memory has stuck because it was out of the ordinary!
Have your children read to you. One of my best motherhood experiences was when my 8 year old daughter read me the Clarice Bean series over a year or two. She had raved about the Clarice Bean novels and I wanted to read one. However it is not easy for us Mums to get time to read. She was also encouraging me to get my exercising done, which is also hard to fit in. So we devised a plan whereby I did my stretches with my weights while she read me Clarice Bean. A couple of evenings a week I’d roll out my yoga mat on her bedroom floor and stretch away while she swept my mind into the child-world of Clarice Bean. I loved it! I entered girl-world with my girl. And my daughter LOVED reading to me and bonding over the shared experience of the story. It was a special time and we will always remember it. (An added bonus is that when kids read regularly their reading and writing improves.)
Read to your child. We used to read to our kids at bedtime, often their children Bible. When they homeschooled for some years there were read-aloud books I read to them as part of the curriculum. They were stories about kids in other countries and eras and we all learnt so much. Some years ago my husband and our youngest daughter (the same daughter who read me Clarice Bean), wanted to read the Hobbit. He decided to read it to her in the evenings whenever he could. It became their thing. They even had a great time with their insider jokes about being Tookish! She says that he always stopped at a cliff-hanger moment so she was longing for the next instalment!
Special outings with just one of the kids at a time.
Another highlight of our kids’ lives were ‘Special Time Out’ outings we did with one child at a time. One parent, one child. We made a list so we could keep track and the kids were keenly aware when their turn was coming up! Each daughter had a one-to-one time out with each parent, once or twice a year. They only happened now and again but they’d talk about it for the whole year. Like it was the best. day. ever.
We usually went to a café and they got a baby-chino or milkshake or something. Otherwise we stocked up on yummies at the bakery and ate them on the grass by the beach. After that we took them to shops where they got to choose a small gift to remember the day. Usually the budget was only $10 but those were treasures they kept forever. Having your Mum or Dad all to yourself for a morning out can fill a child’s love tank for a long time! We still do one to one outings, even though they are in teens and in twenties now.
We parents can feel inundated with must-do’s but sweet times are our chance to relax and recharge the batteries together. Everyone needs that. Taking time out for this also pays big dividends as children who feel well connected to their parents are less likely to act up. If a child is regularly acting up and you can’t get anywhere, try filling their love tank. That is when miracles happen.
I hope you got some inspiration on how to make life a little sweeter for you and your beautiful children. Part two of this article is here.
If you are wishing you had more time for play, you might want to read some of my earlier blog posts. For example this one on intentionally slowing down the speed of your life.