This is the mantra I chose to guide my own parenting, to help me keep my priorities in check when life gets overwhelming with dishes, laundry, to-do lists, and EXPECTATIONS! These are the 6 action-words I choose to do with each of my kids on a daily basis. This is my goal – sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesnʼt. I chose them because (wearing my expert hat) they are the most important part of a young childʼs healthy routine, brain development, and emotional foundation. But I also chose them because (wearing my Mommy hat), when I am in the moment sharing these moments with my kids, ordinary moments become memorable moments, and I am a joyful mommy. I chose them because I think they will grow with me and my kids, and will always serve to keep us close. I keep these words up on my bathroom mirror, in my car, on the fridge, and on my laptop. At the end of the day, I like to consider my favorites from the day, and I will be blogging about some of them with you.
Play Did you know that if you concentrate on playing with your child at least 5 minutes a day, it can reduce power struggles by 50%? Now thatʼs worth a try! (That means TV off, ringer off, brain engaged, on the ﬂoor, in the costume or in the mud, and let them call the shots.)
Laugh Did you know that laughing not only lowers stress, but also helps boost the immune system? Find what gives your child the giggles this week, and make a point to laugh with your child, not at them;) There is nothing like genuinely cracking up with your child!
Sing No matter what you think of your own voice, I guarantee it is your childʼs favorite one to hear! They knew it well before they were born, and will hopefully be “hearing” it in their heads and hearts long after youʼre gone (the good stuff, ﬁngers crossed). Start with 3 songs a day, and I promise Iʼll give you a song for every task, every animal, every occasion before my blogging days are done.
Listen Every child, even babies, need time to express themselves – their feelings, their stories, their newly discovered sounds. But, we must provide them silent space and full attention to really hear what they are saying. In this way, we honor their very essence. Maybe itʼs in the car, in the bed, over dinner, snuggling after nap – ﬁnd their sweet spot (time and place) for opening up, and make yourself available. Youʼll learn so much!
Read Reading aloud to your child is an easy way to accomplish so much: physical touch and connection, bonding over a shared experience, language development, developing attention span, growing imagination, and it provides a mental escape for you and your child from the stresses of reality. (Because who wouldnʼt rather be in the Hundred Acre Woods?)
Hug Snuggle, kiss, wrestle, massage, stroke…your child physically needs your loving touch for healthy development. Loving, physical connections on the outside literally make neural connections on the inside. Enjoy it while they still want it, and give it to them even when they “outgrow” it, because they never really do.
Moment for Mommy: When I was struggling just trying to survive, much less have the energy to do live out my mantra with my own children after a long day of teaching, no hubby around to help, little sleep with a co-sleeping baby, I had an “aha” moment as I stared at these words. “PLAY, LAUGH, SING, READ, LISTEN, HUG.” Am I doing any of these things for myself? I should make myself a priority, too! That’s when I started listening to some of my own music every now and then instead of just Kindermusik in the car. That’s when I started calling a friend to talk in the evenings when I knew Dustin wouldn’t be home. That’s when I made sure to get a hug from a friend at work during the day, because there were some days that no one else offered me one, and touch matters for grown-ups, too! That was when I started reading something for pleasure, even if it was just a couple of sentences of a good novel at bedtime before falling asleep. That was when I started really appreciating the people and the things that made me laugh. Laughter really lifted my spirits, and I tried to get more of it! That was when I decided I needed to carve out time for myself to “play” with people I loved – to have a night off to go to the movies or do something fun every now and then. Are YOU on your priority list?