As a single parent a lot falls on your shoulders. Trying to keep up with everything on your plate requires a lot of focus and attention. Maintaining the home, clients, car, bank accounts, bills; all of it often pulls you in 10,000 directions. So much so that at times it’s easy to forget something more important than anything I just listed; a picture your child just drew.
What picture you ask? Is it the one you never saw because your son came to your desk several times while you were busy on the computer only to hear you say, “in a minute buddy.” Maybe you eventually forgot and he gave up.
Maybe it wasn’t a picture. Maybe it was a video they found on YouTube that they wanted to share with you. Maybe it was a shirt they wanted to wear to school that they couldn’t find. Perhaps it was a question about having a friend over or if you knew where the Goldfish were. Regardless, I guarantee you, at some point today, you likely missed an opportunity to let your kid know that they’re the most important thing in your world. Worse case, you let them know that everything else was more important than them.
If there are more than one rug rats, it gets even harder. I’m guessing there’s one that gets shafted out of what they want time and time again because along with the list above, they’re also competing with an older or younger brother or sister who have baseball practice, piano lessons; science club; something that they get dragged to that demands yet more of everyone’s time and is presented as more important than anything they want to do.
It’s worth a gut check once in a while to stop and become aware of how you’ve approached the little minds in your house lately. Are you blowing them off to meet a deadline or take a client call? Is the extra meeting more important than ensuring dinner together around the table?
Look, obviously from time to time we’re going to have to make a work or home issue a priority. No question. Sometimes we’re going to have to be at three places at once and everyone’s going to have to go with the flow. Absolutely. The point is that it’s easy to get into that mode and harder to get out of it and focus on the kids. And don’t think for a minute that they don’t see it. But chances are they really don’t understand it. Have they been a pill of late? Not listening? Picking fights with their brother or sister? In all likelihood they don’t even know why they’re grumpy or lashing out in anger over a missing ponytail holder or who got the last cookie. But I’d be pissed off too if I felt nobody considered me more important than checking e-mail.
As has often been written in this blog, it’s about awareness. About stopping every once in a while to make sure we’re listening and reacting properly to our kids. A new cheer they want to show you may not seem like a big deal, but it is to them. And not even as big a deal as the fact that they WANT to share it with you. That’s huge! Don’t ignore the value of that moment. Stop for two minutes and give them your undivided attention.
Now if you’ll excuse me; I need to go practice what I’m preaching. 🙂