Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How to like your kids more


A few years ago, I was struggling with patience. (Good thing I got that licked.) I was losing it with my kids way too much and trying to figure out how to fix it. One night, as I was praying for help, this idea came to my mind:
I needed to put my kids on my list. (You'll remember my post about my list-making? Well, Heavenly Father knew about my list-making, too, and He knew that that would be the best way for me to focus on my kids better).
And so I did. I wrote on my list:
  • 15 minutes with Emma
  • 15 minutes with Gabe
  • 15 minutes with Jane

(There was no Seth yet.)

I determined to spend 15 minutes a day with each of them, alone, interacting and focusing only on them. It sounds like a piddly amount, but the mothers out there know how hard it is to find that kind of time. Which is exactly why I needed to do it.

And I started liking them a little bit more. And being more patient.

Of course, like everybody (I hope), I let it slide. And then I start being more frustrated with my kids and wondering what the problem is. So I start praying again for help. And He tells me again:

"Hey remember the answer I gave you a few years ago. Still the same answer."

Starting last September, I've recommitted to it (due to another prayer like the one above). It has been the biggest blessing. Because I SOO like to check things off my list, I have found myself searching more for opportunities to spend time with each kid. There have been so many neat conversations and simply joyful interactions that I wouldn't have had, if I hadn't been trying to get my "10 min w/E".

Here are some things I do with them:

  • Read scriptures 10 minutes in the morning (I switch off with Emma and Gabe, every other day)

  • Read books of their choice

  • Just lay on their bed and talk

  • Help them finish a job and talk

  • Ask one to help me make dinner

  • Grab one to go to the store with me, if Ryan's home

  • Sit on the floor and play with Seth's animal collection

  • Sit on the floor and just watch Seth play with ANYTHING

  • Color

  • Build train tracks

  • Play a game (Jane and Gabe are my game-players)

  • Go for a walk

I DO NOT DO THIS EVERY DAY. I promise. But the days and weeks I do, I love them more. I want to be more patient and present, because I know them better. They are more content and happy because I've given them some Mommy time.


Remind me of this, please, the next time I post needing some advice about how to handle all these kids. I seem to have a tendency to forget.

36 comments:

Kristin said...

Such good advice. Our school challenged the boys to read 20 minutes every day, doesn't seem like a lot, but hard when you have a house full. I was impressed not only to see how they improved, but also to see how much I liked them more. Love the 15 minutes of playtime, I really need to work on that.

Annie said...

Love that. When I saw the title, I thought it might be my version of how-to-like-your-kids-more, which might or might not involve spending more time away from them :).

Really, your solo time is genius. I'll bet they love it.

Shally said...

My favorite time is my alone time with my kids. Zach and I trade off laying by Jaxon every night before he goes to sleep. It is amazing how much he shares with us in that 10 minutes. Cam is the one that gets the shaft on the one on one time thing, poor baby. Unless we are feeding or changing her, she is left on the floor playing while we attend to everything else. I need to put her on my list too.

Diane said...

You have cute kids! When ours were little we had what we called "Special Night". Every night we rotated which child got to stay up 15 minutes later than the others. We set the timer and the deal was that the child could do whatever they wanted with us for that time. Only with the person who was putting them to bed, that is. Maybe an extra story, a quiet game, or whatever. The top pick 99% of the time would be laying in bed in the dark and talking. When Dad had Special Night duty he would get questions like, "How do you make glass?" and "Why is cement white and the street is dark?" The kids loved this and it went on for years. Dad was really good at it and mom usually fell asleep! Your kids will always remember the feelings they have when you take time with them.

Elizabeth Caldwell said...

Some may think that it is easier for me because I have just one to spend time with, and I suppose it is. I do remember when he was younger what a good time we would have together, just hanging out. As he is growing older it is too easy to let him go his own way toward independence. Truth be told he is one of my very favorite humans on the face of the earth. Even in his 'teenagerish' moments. I think that I am going to tell him tonight that I heard about a way he can like me better - by spending 10 minutes a day with ME! I know I would like it :)

Me & My BOYS said...

I think that is a great idea. I get totally frustrated with my kids and I would like to find ways to be a better mom. And truthfully, I enjoy them better one on one.

So, please tell me how to get one on one time. How do I get rid of Joren to play with Brenner and vice verse?

Audry said...

I think your post is an answer to my prayers. Because I've been having the same problem. I think spending one and one time with them, is a great idea. Thanks for you thoughts. It's nice to know that I'm not the only crazy mom out their struggling to always like my kids.

AMY said...

Honestly, thank you. I'm totally a list person - and although I intereact with Aidan, he totally deserves my UNDIVIDED attention. He gets story time and talk time before naps and bedtime - but it's got to be sometime else. Play time is what I need to work on, even if that means playing trains (he's obsessed)- EVERY time.

I'm giving it a try!! I'll let you know how it helps.

shauna said...

I love this post! I love lists! I love YOUR lists. Wonderful, thank you.

Audra said...

That is really really cool. I am going to do this! Thanks for sharing.

Meg said...

After having 4 kids, I feel like I have to reteach myself how to have fun with them. Pretty pathetic that it's come to this. But I appreciated your post. Your goal has been on my rough draft of resolutions for awhile...and I can see that it needs to move to the final pen draft in some form. Thanks for helping ME remember! And me and 30(or so) others are here to help you if you forget... :-)

andrea said...

i'll take your advice, and instead of trying to post a witty comment on your blog, i'm going to go dry my daughter's hair before we go out tonight.
i feel better about motherhood already.

Lisa-Marie said...

GREAT advice. I have been keeping track of everything I eat lately and write my lists and notes on the bottom of the same page each day. I'm going to add my kids to the list as well. I LOVE IT! Thanks.

crystal said...

This is great! I'm totally going to copy you. I'm an infamous list-maker, too. I'm serious--I'm going to do the one-on-one time, daily. This is genius! (i'll just steal your answer to YOUR prayer instead of saying my own--I'm a spiritual giant)

Mike & I do daddy/daughter/son and mommy/daughter or son dates once a month or so, but the daily, short & sweet time...I like it! It goes right along with my word of the year, "moments."

Genius.

Lauren said...

Jessica,
That is so wonderful...it really helps me to know that we all struggle, but the fact that you continue to turn to Heavenly Father for help is such an amazing example. I want to be a better mom...I can get so overwhelmed sometimes, I just feel like such a failure and then I feel such guilt about it, that I don't want to turn to Heavenly Father because I feel like I must be such a disapointment to Him. I know He is there for me and He will help me if I ask. I don't have to be perfect...I just need to keep striving for perfection and without His help that quest would be impossible anyway. Thank you for your fine example, truly.

Lorena said...

That really does make a difference. I, too, have done this and have let is slide. Since I am a list-checker-offer, I will follow your advice and add this to my list. I think it not only helps the parent, but the kid, too.

Carie said...

I love this idea.

Ilene said...

Today after our nap, Jackson and I snuggled and talked. It was wonderful and made me almost okay with the fact that it was time to get up.

Now, I just need to get Dan on my list of "to spend 15 minutes with" list...

Abbie said...

I love this post. Thank you! I'll remember it when I have too many kids too.

K8 said...

okay so I am going crazy. My 2 year old is a hyperactive/focus crazy thing. She is so sweet but she has so much energy. She could go all day long. Bryan has started waking her up with him at 5am. It seems to help a little but she still won't fall asleep until 9:30, and that's with a 2 hour nap at 12. I don't know what to do. How do you keep seth in bed? Does he still take a nap?
thanks for the advice. I think spending more time with her will help too!

K8 said...

okay so I am going crazy. My 2 year old is a hyperactive/focus crazy thing. She is so sweet but she has so much energy. She could go all day long. Bryan has started waking her up with him at 5am. It seems to help a little but she still won't fall asleep until 9:30, and that's with a 2 hour nap at 12. I don't know what to do. How do you keep seth in bed? Does he still take a nap?
thanks for the advice. I think spending more time with her will help too!

TexasTwinsTwice said...

You are such a great example! I too have found that one on one time makes ALL the difference. One of my girls is EXTRA attention-hungry, so she needs her alone time or she gets to be a real DIVA. Thanks for your example!

Paige said...

But you forgot how playing guys or Barbies in my case is pure torture while the house is gross. the scripture thing is a great idea, two birds one stone thing (or two cross-outs for you). I also like them more when the have really good hair and new clothes. This is expensive. If i could get a picture like that one you have it might work too. Thanks for sharing. It also might help if my kids were perfect like yours.

Lauren said...

I forgot to mention that I really love that picture of your kids. The peering around the gate is really cute, and the packground is beautiful. As you were...

gab said...

Thanks! I need to work on this...

Bridget said...

Great post. I have been trying the same thing too. We call it "special time" and however menial the task is we are doing, they totally look forward to it. Your kids are just darling. Thanks for the reminder.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Why is it that we like them more when we stop blogging and play on the floor with them? Reason stands that I should love them the most when they play alone and let me do my thing. But sigh, you're right. I need to work on this, too.

rubberbandgirl said...

This is good for me as well. Thank you. I think three year olds are very hard to like (I seriously remember realizing just after his fourth birthday that I actually liked Dane again) and I do better when I spend a little time in the day with her(Ella, my emotional, irrational, dramatic, picky, stubborn 3 yr old).

Kara Jayne said...

Thank you Jessica. I really needed to hear this right now.

Pineapple Princess said...

This is such a great idea!!!

I'm wondering if your kids have caught on. Do they know when you are doing it with one of the others and do they try to butt in?

I think back in our mothering minds we know this, but it is so nice to see someone do it and have great results. Like most things, doing is better than knowing. I'm gonna try to be a doer today!

katie said...

that is amazing advice! Thank you. seems like 15 minutes would be such a short amount of time to set aside, and yet I don't do it - and to them, the 15 minutes is amazing. Thank you - I'm off to add to my list!

John Holly Levi & Faith said...

Good idea. There's so many things on my lists, but spending quality time with the kids is never on there. Where are my priorities?!!

I think it's great that you DO IT ALL!! You're supermom!

Oh, and the pic of the kids is so cute.

Tammy said...

Although I cannot comment as wisely as all of these other moms, I do think that this makes perfect sense. It probably helps them like you, too, so its a perfect thing to making people feel special, spending individual time with them, including hubby!

Karen said...

I just love this idea. I've read it on your blog before, and I need to follow your example. I find that I like my kids better one-on-one anyway because they're not vying for my attention.

Holly said...

This was so sweet, beautiful and very true, Jessica. Thanks for the reminder!

Jill said...

It's so true...all they want is a little mommy time and then they aren't so needy. Thanks for the reminder!!