***At the turn of each new year, I choose a word to focus on during the upcoming twelve months. Last year it was 'Mindfulness' and in 2013 it is 'Connection'. I started out in January with a new resolve. I went to dinner with friends. I scheduled more play dates. I called people I haven't talked to in several months and shared a lot of chats over Facebook. By February I was I was exhausted! And my relationship with my children was suffering because I didn't have as much time to really slow down and connect with them each day from all of the running around. Although I was in contact with others more, I lost the deeper connection with myself and my children that formed the basis of my well-being.
Thich Nhat Hanh said, "Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” I love new beginnings. I typically use any chance I get to start one. First day of the month, Sundays, Holidays...whatever the occasion, I can use it for a fresh start. As the first few days of February marked the first of the month, a Sunday, and Imbolic/Brigit/half way between winter and spring, it was auspicious for me to make another go at my new year's focus.
Luckily I had been reading through 'Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids' by Dr. Laura Markham and was reminded of the practice of Special Time. Special Time is a period of time set aside by parents to spend one-on-one time with their children totally focused on connecting with them. The phone is put down and away, no bathroom breaks, no changing a quick load of laundry...just you and one of your children doing what they want to do for 15 minutes. It sounds easy, but for those of us that are working all day, need to get dinner on the table, and cannot fathom sitting down to play Batman for another minute...it is sometimes easier said than done. However, I knew this is what my children needed. They were fighting with each other more. They were breaking down into tantrums over what seemed to be trivial things. I was getting frustrated...and something had to give.
My husband and I decided we would commit to setting aside the time for this (30 minutes per day). One of the boys could be doing special time with Dad while the other child was with Mom, then we would switch. We set the timer on the microwave to beep when time was over. If only one of us was home, we would allow the other child to have a turn on the computer. Within the first few days of doing Special Time, I saw my relationship with my children swing back into a state of balance. Simply turning off all other distractions and truly focusing on my child for 15 short minutes per day has made the emotional outbursts soften, the sibling rivalry lessen, and my children are more cooperative with normal routines that were becoming a struggle...bedtime, meals, etc. This means that I have played board games, pretended to be a fire fighter, jumped on beds, wrestled, read books, built with legos, had a Star Wars battle, and all in all thoroughly cherished my children for who they are in that moment.
We still have playdates so my boys and I can spend time with friends. I still am working to have a deeper connection with my friends and husband outside of my life as a mom. However, it is at a slower pace and I put myself and my children at the top of that list for now while they are young. It truly is a special time in our lives and I simply do not wish to miss it.
Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple living into their lives via new beginnings. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Clearing the Clutter!
- Using Special Time to Simply Connect - Amber at Heart Wanderings begins to focus on simply connecting with each of her children for a few minutes of Special Time each day. A deeper connection and sense of joy, softening of emotional outbursts, and less sibling rivalry have resulted from this practice.
- Redefining Simplicity - Living within our needs - Survivor from Surviving Mexico talks about how moving from a first-world country to a third world country has changed her family's perception of simplicity. Adapting to this new life has not been easy, but can be done with an attitude of gratitude.
- Changes - Sustainable mom writes about how she is bringing back a beat to a rhythm that has been falling apart.
- Listening to my Kids - Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs is seeking peace and freedom after over-scheduling her daughters.
- Thankful to Begin Again - Mercedes @ Project Procastinot learns a lesson from her twins.
- Changes for a New Year - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children is concentrating on making small changes this year in an effort to make better habits.
- Parenting Two: A Fresh Start - Joella at Fine and Fair embraces the transition as her family grows as a new beginning by being gentle with herself and realistic with her expectations.
- Finding Balance - At Authentic Parenting, Laura looks at where she's gotten fighting depression and aspiring to a more harmonious life.