It’s #3ThingsThursday time again. It’s really unbelievable how quickly the weeks seem to fly by. This week for #3ThingsThursday I will be sharing 3 gifts that I will be giving my family this year.
This year, my girls Christmas wishlists consist of a few toys and the eldest has asked for some electronics. Santa will do his best to work his magic and make that happen for them. After all, they have been “nice” this year. However, I’m also going to give them some presents this Christmas that I can’t buy. Although, they didn’t specifically ask for these gifts, my heart knows they need these gifts.
The three gifts that I want to give my children more of this Christmas and for the following year are:
1. The gift of presence
You may have seen this quote circling around social media since the beginning of December, “Give the gift of presence this year”. Although our children would never ask for this type of present, it is the number one gift that we can give to our children. The other day while watching my daughter at swim lessons (well, I was half watching, half looking at my phone). I thought to myself, Sweet, half an hour to do some work while she’s in lessons. On our way to the car after her lessons, my daughters response when I asked her if she had fun was , “It was good, but… You didn’t watch me! Next time, don’t bring your phone!” In that instant, my heart dropped to the floor. She was right. I wasn’t watching her. Clearly, she noticed and wanted me to watch her. I suddenly had one of those I feel like a very shitty mom moments. In the past, I used to watch my other daughters during lessons the entire time. Heck, I even had the big, clunky camcorder out while my first daughter was in her swim lessons capturing every moment. So, why wasn’t I being present with my last daughter?
I was holding the answer in my hand. It was because of my Smart phone!!! They didn’t exist then. Nope. We didn’t have any other choice but to simply watch our children. Now we live in a multi-tasking society, which makes it hard to stay present.
I talked to some other moms about my guilt after my daughters comment and their response was, “It happens all the time”. This incident however, isn’t the first time I haven’t been present with my daughters. For example, my tween daughter talks super fast to me in the car while I’m driving from one lesson to the other, and I don’t entirely always hear everything she is saying. I mean, I’m trying to focus on the road, and listen to her speak. She sounds like the character Six, from Blossom. Do you remember her? She was Blossoms friend that spoke super fast. You could only get the first and the last word. Well, that’s my tween daughter. There’s been times she tells me a story super, super fast and then at the end, she responds, “Did you even listen to me?” Although I tried to listen, I obviously didn’t try enough, because I didn’t fully hear her story. I look at her face with so much guilt and reply, “O.k, I heard the first and the last part.” I can see the disappointment in her face. It’s disappointing to her that she spent all of this time telling me the latest funny thing or drama at school and I lost her after the first couple of words because my thoughts wandered. Where do I have to be next? Hmm, I just heard her say that her friend called herself a pizza face, maybe I should make that a blog post? Oh crap, what time is it? I’m going to be late to grab Nyomi. What I should be doing in these moments is focus, look my daughter directly in the face, ask her to slow down her words and show her that I’m listening.
That being said, my first gift to my girls this Christmas and for the new year is to give them more of my presence. Not my half -ass, multi-tasking, half -ass listening. But my fully listening, fully watching presence. They may not put this on their wishlist, but my heart knows they need this present from me, more than they need anything Santa can bring them.
2. The gift of play
When my older two girls were growing up in their toddler/preschool years I played with them all day! The reason for this wasn’t because I didn’t have anything else to do, but because I ran a small, multi-age child care centre and they were included in it. I sang, I danced, we did arts and crafts, circle time, nature walks and outdoor play. EVERY DAY. Fast forward to the present day. I work from home, mostly from a computer. For this reason, my youngest asks me all the time, to play! “Mom, let’s play babies. Mom, come play pet shops. Mom, let’s play bingo. Mommy, play with me! ” Some days, I play with her and other days, I put other things first. What I’ve noticed however is this; when I do drop everything and play, I can see the joy in my girls eyes, and laughter always fills the room. My youngest will come to an age when she will stop asking me to play. When that day arrives, I will miss her days of imaginative play. Sometimes, as parents we tend to get really serious. We need to stay focused, organized, on top of the house work and other parenting duties. One of our duties, as parents however, is to stop what we are doing and play with our children once in a while. I’m guilty of being to serious at times. Therefore, my second gift to my girls this year is to be less serious and go back to being the playful mom that they know and love. This Christmas and for the new year, my parenting to do list will not only consist of serious mom duties. Play will be on that to do list too!
3. The gift of affection
We all need affection. Some days I give it more than others. Here’s the thing though, when I’m in a funky mood or I feel frustrated, a hug always makes me feel better. There have been many situations when my youngest daughter has tantrums. During tantrums, a parents natural reaction is to try and put an end to them. However, punishing our children for not being mature enough to work through all the emotions they are feeling, as well as lacking the communication tools to express them to us, never results in ending the tantrum. Letting your child have their tantrum and perhaps giving them a hug during, almost always helps decrease the child’s anger and calm them down. During my daughters tantrums, I allow her to scream and cry out her frustrations. Afterwards, I pick her up, put her head on my shoulder and rub her back. This almost always calms her down. In addition to my youngest having tantrums, my tween daughter still tantrums from time to time. While she is ranting about how life is so unfair, sometimes I tend to rant back about how silly she sounds. Then I remind myself that we all have bad days. I remind myself that the tween years are challenging, full of body changes, emotions, and hormones. In these moments, instead of trying to change her bad mood, I give her a hug. Once we are wrapped in a hug, her ranting stops and I can see that she slowly starts to feel better. She just needed affection. Humans need and crave affection. Some days, it’s easier to give it then others. My husband will also be getting more affection from me this Christmas ( and no, you perverts not just in the sack). Normally when he walks through the door after a long day of work, I acknowledge him with our tasks for the evening. “Ok, Jada needs to be here at six o clock. Oh and can you turn the rice cooker on, while I go and pick up so and so?” In other words, I will be making more of an effort to acknowledge him with a big hug. My hope is when he enters the home it will feel less chaotic, and he will feel like his hard work for the day is appreciated. Lastly, there is my middle daughter. The quiet daughter who never talks back, who is afraid of the dark, and sometimes goes unnoticed because she rarely has bad days. So, this Christmas, I will hug her extra tight when she’s scared in her room, instead of telling her there’s nothing to be afraid of. I know that my family will appreciate my third gift of more affection this year, and in turn, I believe it will create a more loving home and stronger bonds.
I hope that you and your family enjoy the holidays celebrating how truly blessed you are to have one another in your lives. It’s so easy to take for granted the very people who love us the most. This Christmas, let’s remember to give the gifts of presence, play and affection because whether you are a parent or not, we all need these gifts all year round.