After the big moment
Being home with your kids is tough because it isn’t life deciding moments. It is the little ones. They do build up and combine in frustrating and unique ways, but each decision, when taken on its own, is tiny and almost insignificant. Last week we discussed the big moment. I shared how terribly inhospitable I was to my son when he first came home. That was on the coattails of asking Christianity where our party was? Those are big moments. Hospitality starts there, but the real test is how long it lasts. How long can you be home with your kids?
You may not be a SAHD like me, but the most terrifying moments in my parenting are when we don’t have a planned activity. Every day I know where we should be and when. We leave the house for hours every day because sitting at home terrifies me a little. I get worn out when we don’t have an activity. Why? Because then I have to engage, all of me with all of my son.
My son is a huge extrovert, and I am a huge introvert. Do you know what he wants to do when we have nothing to do? He wants to talk to and play with me. Now that might not seem so terrible or frightening. But, there is only so much you can do with a kid before you are wiped out. Once, there was a study done with athletes where they had to mimic the actions of a toddler. Not a single athlete made it.Hospitality starts in the big moments, but the real test is how long it lasts. How long can you be home with your kids? Click To Tweet
Tips to Engage
So how do you engage them? Engagement, especially from Dad, is one of the key factors in numerous studies on mental, psychological, and physical health. So, here are some tips I have picked up over the years.
- Prepare – Have a fallback activity or two planned. Make one of them playdough or coloring or something in that vein. You need to catch your breath, mentally and physically. These two activities are gold for not only stimulating your child’s creative side, but also letting you catch a breather.
- Snacks – Kids don’t move as much when they are eating. It is also a good way to catch up with them. You kids want conversation. While they eat, you can tell them about your day. While you eat (goldfish are delicious) they can tell you about their day. Quiz them about it if you are a stay-at-home parent. The longer they talk to you here. The less they may need later unless your kid is like mine.
- Play – Wrestle, tickle, chase, throw. Get your verb on. Playing reduces your stress from whatever day you have had and it is a great way to connect with your kid. They get tired faster too, a huge plus for the bedtime/naptime battle royale.
- Put away your screen – True Confession: I am terrible at this. However, when I succeed there is a joy in my son’s eyes that I cannot even describe. He knows he is first in my life when I don’t have my phone on me or even know where it is. This is a huge positive because your kids aren’t going to nag you for your attention when you aren’t looking at a screen because they know they have it (dinner time cooking or incredibly important conversation at church aside). When they know they have your attention, kids are so much more forgiving. You can play wrong and it will get corrected far more gently, or zone out for a minute and they won’t care. You can tell them you’re tired or need to rest and your kid might even suggest something from Tip 1. Don’t neglect playing, but sometimes a good snack, snuggle, and coloring sheet is all you need to have an excellent night.
Now you don’t have to do any or all of these, but I can tell you when I do number 4 and number 1 it makes a big difference in my son’s day. It matters to him how much daddy engages. Not how much daddy is around, but how much he engages.
So there you go a few tips on how to be engaging with your kids at home. Bonus tip: be patient with yourself and your kid(s). Being home isn’t the big exciting kickoff but it becomes the main event of their lives. So show up and enjoy it because this event while some days a slog only happens once. See you next week to discuss how to create a hospitable environment. For the Surviving SAHD post we might get a little more practical, so make sure you read the deeper meanings post earlier in the week.