Once we have children, our lives change dramatically. Our previously typical routines and daily life have been altered to completely revolve around our kids. From the baby stage through toddler years and beyond, our goals and regimens evolve to fit the needs of our little ones and our family as a whole.
Although our ultimate goal as a parent is to keep our children happy and safe, we have other responsibilities that require our attention, as well. Unfortunately, dinner needs to be made, the house needs to get cleaned, and the laundry needs to get done. Not to mention, errands need to be run, activities need to be planned, and appointments need to be made.
Geeze, being a mom sounds like a lot of work!
If I am playing tea party with my daughter, I feel guilty that the mound of laundry isn’t folded. If I’m tidying up the playroom, I feel bad that my kids are plopped in front of the television. And if I’m ordering take out, I feel like I’m spending too much money.
The struggle for us moms is that we just simply can’t do it all. We can’t give 100% to every aspect of our life, so some things need to get put on the back burner and that is ok! There are some days when I can’t remember the last time that I cleaned the bathroom or changed my bedsheets, but I do try to remember all that extra time that I get to spend with my children.
If you’re feeling guilty that you’ve ordered take out and fast food 5 out of the 7 days this week or that the dust collecting on the mantle is one-inch thick, try and remember the ultimate importance of life. For me, that is growing happy children that appreciate the love and attention that I can offer them.
The lesson is simple: our kids don’t care if the house is clean or if we’re making a homecooked meal. I’m sure they see more disgusting dirt on the playground and eat worse food from the school cafeteria! How many times have you heard them scoff at the pile of dishes in the sink or mounds of clothes in the laundry bin?
Never, because it’s not what matters to them.
After their basic needs are met (like food, shelter, and oxygen), there are still a few things that children really need from us. Below are the things that they just can’t get on their own, but that you should be offering or showing them on a daily basis.
If you can accomplish these 6 things, the fact that your house isn’t cleaned should not bother you.
Affection and Love
This goes without saying, but our children need to feel nurtured, cared for, and loved. They need to know that they come home to people who will always keep them safe. The simple hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s” are helping them to understand the pure emotion of love.
From this, they will feel secure and wanted, but even more than that, they will go on to show the same caring and emotions for others. Raising a child in a loving and affectionate way will promote their ability to offer the same to their loved ones now and in the future.
Laughter and Silliness
Children need to laugh. A lot. It’s part of being a kid. Sure, they can make fools of themselves on their own and alongside peers, however, they also need it from their parents and adults, as well.
Life gets too serious between going to work, paying bills, and balancing it all at once. We have to remember that our kids don’t have these responsibilities. They don’t understand the stress of having to meet a deadline or balance a million things at once.
What they do need is joy, excitement, and fun from their parents. So play dress up with them, make up funny songs and dances, and pretend you’re a kid again! Tickle them till they’re begging you to stop and just enjoy getting a little silly once in awhile.
Give your child that one-on-one time to just sit, play, or talk with you. I’m talking about making eye contact and really being interested in what they have to say or do. If you can take 10 minutes of your day to filter out all the distractions, technology, and never-ending to-do-lists in your head, you can really engage with your child in such an important way.
Ask some open-ended questions about their day, their likes and dislikes, and feelings on certain subjects. They may give you more information and answers than you’d think. By showing your child that you’re present and willing to listen, they will open up to you.
Trust me, you will get a lot more out of it than you think. Every time I put my phone down to listen or communicate with my 2-year-old, I walk away from it feeling the connection and bond that we are forming more and more every day.
Independence and Adventure
Starting in toddlerhood, your child needs to foster their own sense of independence in order to learn all about the world around them. It helps them to understand rules and boundaries, limits, and expectations.
Kids crave independence because their brains are wired to constantly want to learn more and test their limits. You have to give them the chance to figure things out for themselves because those are the best lessons that they will learn.
Being a helicopter parent and hovering over your child can only work for so long until they need to break free. Giving them a sense of independence is vital to their development and growth for both their mind and body.
So let your toddler sit on the kitchen counter bar stool. If they fall, they’ll learn that they need to sit properly. Let them walk to the mailbox by themselves to get the mail.
They will be less inclined to run away and defy you if given these opportunities with your permission, instead of having to sneak around your back. If something goes wrong when they’re experiencing things independently, that’s when the learning takes place.
Giving your child the freedom to explore new things is a wonderful experience for them. Offering trips to new areas like parks, shops, and events gives them plenty of opportunities for exploration and wonder.
Structure and Routine
Children need structure just as much as adults do. When I have a day off, I feel so much less productive because I’m off my routine and therefore, less gets done.
Children are the same way. If you develop set routines in your home, this will also help your child to be more productive and compliant.
Having a structure to the day or night offers them predictability. They will always know what’s coming so they’re not caught off guard and less willing to do it.
Toddlers benefit very much from a pre-bedtime routine like bath, brush their teeth, go potty, read a book, say prayers, and go to bed. If they see a consistent pattern happening each and everyday, they are less likely to throw fits and tantrums because they know what the expectations are.
For older children, a before and after school routine may be important. Again, offer them a solid timeframe of homework, snack, getting dressed, doing chores, etc. Charts and timelines can help immensely with setting a schedule or routine for your little one.
Support and Encouragement
Although adults may feel like being a kid is the easiest job, childhood can be tough for many. They’re expected to learn new knowledge, make friends, try different activities and sports, and adhere to every rule and expectation that you set for them.
For a child, socially, physically, and cognitively, this can be hard!
As parents, we need to be there for our children to show support and encourage them through the tough times in their life. Just like we need to be praised and encouraged at work, children need to feel that motivational support from you.
We need to help lift their spirits when they’re down and give them a sense of pride when they’ve worked hard.
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Teachers change, friends change, abilities change, and their body’s change, but the one constant in a child’s life is their family. When life gets crazy and busy, remember these 6 things that your children really need from you and let the other stuff wait.