A few weeks ago, I read the most obvious and simple parenting advice: sit on the floor and play with your kids.
Duh. I mean, how obvious, right? Except not to me. In my five and a half years as a parent, I have never been good at stopping everything I am doing to play with my kids. I’ll tell them to go upstairs to play, or get out the bin of Legos, or sit for a few minutes to read a book, but inevitably I am distracted by the dirty floor or the pile of laundry or the dinner that needs to get made (or, you know, to check Facebook). Even if I’m on the floor playing, I’m not 100% present because I’m thinking about the birthday present I need to order or the grocery list or why I still get acne.
So I decided to try the simple advice and play with my kids. Not only that, but to also be 100% present during those 15 or 20 minutes. This advice reminded me of Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes (which is required reading!). She started to say yes to her kids when they asked her to play, and as she points out, after fifteen minutes, they’d get bored and move on to something else. But for those few minutes she was completely present for them.
Read the book or watch her TED Talk to hear the whole thing, but here’s the gist:
15 minutes is all you need. I can totally pull off 15 minutes of uninterrupted time on my worst day. Uninterrupted is the key. No cell phone, no laundry, no anything. You have a busy life. You have to get dinner on the table. You have to force them to bathe. But you can do 15 minutes. My kids are my happy place, they’re my world, but it doesn’t have to be your kids, the fuel that feeds your hum, the place where life feels more good than not good. It’s not about playing with your kids, it’s about joy. It’s about playing in general. Give yourself the 15 minutes. Find what makes you feel good. Just figure it out and play in that arena.
Kids can sense whether you’re engaged or not with them. I’ve seen a huge difference in the level of whining and complaining when I follow my own advice and do this. It seems so simple and yet it’s highly effective. Kids know when they are your number one priority instead of an afterthought or bother. And it’s so simple, it boils down to this: get on the floor and play with your kids.
What are your favorite parenting hacks?
Thanks for reading Day 2 of NaBloPoMo!
Read other NaBloPoMo posts here:
Day 1: Created Equal