I had just gotten back home from grocery shopping on a Saturday morning last fall when my eldest looked at me and said, “Mom, can you play with me. Just for like 20 minutes.” My first thought was of the long list of the things that I hoped to get done that morning. At the time, we were in the middle of moving closer to the school, so that to-do list was pretty overwhelming to say the least (and it’s why you haven’t seen an article from me since August. Sorry!) The next thing I thought of was that my daughter is already 10 years old, and pretty soon might not be asking me to play with her anymore. And while I was feeling the stress from the list of things to do for our move, she had stress of her own. She was facing a lot of change and her parents had been very busy and distracted for several months. So when she asked me to play with her, she was really asking, “Am I important to you?” and “Do you love me?”
See, love is about feeling connected, and connection is something you have to work at. One of the ways we can create connection with our children and communicate our love to them is to take time to BE with them. Now, being with them is not the same as carting them from one activity to another or sitting with them while they do their homework. Being with our children is about really talking with them, listening to what’s important to them, and having fun together. Playing is a great way to do all of those things.
On the surface it sounds simple. Spend time connecting with your kids and they will feel loved. I also recognize that it really isn’t that simple. Time is one of our most precious resources. It always seems like there is never enough. (I know! That’s the whole reason we moved. Too much time was wasted driving to get to everything we do.) So, I recognize that giving extra time to our children can be a sacrifice. Think of it as giving them a gift. It is a pretty powerful gift. Children who feel loved and connected with their parents grow into adults with higher confidence and sense of worth - very important components of feeling happy and satisfied with life. The good news is that the gift can be given in small amounts.
So that day we had 20 minutes of playtime before I started my to-do list. And you know what? I don’t even remember what was on that list. We managed to successfully find a house and move with that 20 minutes given away. But I do remember the fun we had together, and we both felt better and closer for it.
Totally worth it.