For our final #Stonyfieldblogger post of 2015, we were asked to discuss with our children how we can help them feel loved. Since my little ones are 5 months and 3 years old this conversation wasn’t overly fruitful (my 3 year old stared at me with wide eyes for a few seconds and then asked me for a treat, lol). So instead, I thought I’d reflect on some thoughts on life and raising kids that my husband and I have been discussing over the past few months.
(1) It’s time to disconnect.
We’ve all seen the greeting cards and internet memes out there that poke fun at our over-attachment to electronic devices. We laugh, we chuckle, because we’ve seen it. But if you stop and think about it for more than two seconds you should come to realize that actually it’s not funny – it’s quite sad.
Sad you say! How so? Think about it. We are spending so many of our wonderful life moments checking up on mostly nonsense. Next time you go out to eat, look around. How many couples are sitting at tables across from each other but not interacting at all – instead they are glued to their phones? How often do you sit in bed next to your spouse, each of you on your phones instead of cuddling or talking about the day. Once you start noticing it, it’s hard to stop – just like when you pick up on a lecturer who overuses “um” when they speak.
So I ask you, are those pictures posted by a high school acquaintance really more important than what is going on in front of you? Do you really need to know the latest going-ons of the ever-growing Kardashian family? Is that really important? How about having a conversation with the person sitting right in front of you. How about playing a board game at family gatherings rather than sitting in a circle, everyone on their phone. Or just talk? Sometimes it feels like we’ve all forgotten how to interact with each other in person.
And let me break for a second by saying that I’m as guilty of all-of-the above as many others. Sometimes my brain just needs a break, and scrolling through Facebook or People.com is a quick fix. But it needs to stop, or at least slow down. So lately, I’ve been actively working to curb my phone use – especially in front of my children.
When Ellie (aka – baby #2) was younger, I’d often be glued to my phone during nursing sessions – mostly as a way to try to keep myself from falling asleep. Then, one day, I was looking at something and noticed that on the other side of my phone my three month old was just gazing up at me with her big blue eyes.
It nearly crushed me. Here she is just looking up at her mama, and my entire focus is on this stupid electronic device rather than her sweet face.
Since then I’ve made a point about spending at least some of our nursing time just soaking up her sweetness. Someday she’ll be grown and I’ll long for these beautiful moments, and at least now I know they weren’t all spent checking up on Instagram. And while she is only an infant, and won’t remember the moment, at least she’ll be able to gaze up and see my eyes and not the back of my iPhone. I’m no child psychiatrist, but I believe in my heart this is truly important.
I could go on about this topic for another ten pages, but I’d rather y’all go play with your kids than read it. Am I advocating that everyone chuck all their electronic devices in the river? No, of course not. Being a WAHM, I often rely on my phone to get work done. . . and, in this day when few of us have landlines, cell phones are an important means of communications. My suggestions is to just evaluate your own cell phone usage and maybe try to set a goal to use your time more wisely. And most of all, try your best to not make your children feel like they are competing with it.
(2) Family “adventure” time is a must.
Prior to having children my husband and I were self-proclaimed homebodies. We’d hang out together, cook, watch movies, and work on our different hobbies. Yes, we’d occasionally go out and see friends, but for the most part we preferred to be home.
That REALLY changed once we had our first baby. When she was a bitty baby we stayed home (H was born during cold & flu season), but once she became mobile she was much easier to manage out of the house. She was (and still is) a REALLY busy child, and she gets bored at home quickly. Bored toddler = whiney, misbehaving toddler.
What we didn’t expect was that our need to flee the house with our stir-crazy toddler led us to have some incredible adventures together. We’ve lived in Charleston for 5 years now, and for the first two years visited the beach once.
It’s only 15 minutes away from our house, and we only went once. Once!
Now, we go once every 1-2 weeks. We’ve also gone downtown dozens of times, and have visited a bunch of local destinations (plantations, gardens, etc).
Yes, my husband and I might not get to work on our hobbies as much as before. . .and our house maybe isn’t always the most organized. . but none of that matters. What matters is that we are enjoying our little ones, and are enjoying our time as a family.
For me, it really clicked two weeks ago. We were at Folly Beach looking for shark teeth, Ellie was asleep in the Ergo and Hannah was walking through tidal pools. Then, it started to rain. Instead of running for the car and groaning because our beach adventure was over, we just kept on walking.
A few minutes later, we turned and noticed a beautiful rainbow off in the distance. It was such a beautiful moment, I’ll never forget it. Were we tired? Yes. Were we wet and sandy? Yes. Were we cold? Yes, a little bit. Were there mounds of laundry piled up in our house? Yes. Did I care at the moment? No. All I know is that our three year old was covered in sand, butt soaking from sitting in a tidal pool, and looking up at me with the biggest smile I’d ever seen. It was only the second time in her life she’d ever seen a rainbow, so it was pretty stinkin’ magical to her – and getting to watch her experience it was priceless for me.
One piece of advice, the more you venture out with little ones the easier it gets. Being out of the house with little ones can seem scary, especially as a first-time mom. I’ll be the first to admit it was tough. You just have to do it, and the more you do the easier it gets. You learn how to change a diaper and nurse a baby, anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve changed baby #2 in the trunk of our car or how often I nurse her while she’s riding in the Ergo carrier (baby gear essential in our house!).
So what is the moral of the story?
We are showing our children that we love them by giving them more of our most precious asset – our time.