Presence, Not Just Presents: 21 Ways To Be Present This Holiday SeasonMari Hernandez-Tuten
I know you work hard to give your children everything they need: healthy food, a home, a good education… But don’t get caught up in all of that and forget that some of their most basic necessities are love, play, physical touch, and communication with YOU. Not the nanny, not your mom, not the teacher or wonderful neighbor, but you.
I had tons of deadlines, and my son was standing next to me, repeating over and over again: “Mama, mama…” When I finally did respond in my very irritated voice, he said, “Mommeee, I wove this food. Tank you.” I felt awful and immediately closed my laptop and looked at him.
With each moment that passes us by, we have the choice to be present in the lives of children. Choose presence over presents! If you don’t have time to spend with your little ones because you’re running around town trying to buy them the perfect present, then rethink your day.
Our kids want our attention. Our kids want us. When we choose to seize the moments and spend quality time with our kids, we are also planting seeds that will develop into deeper relationships and trust with our children as they grow.
I share these ideas with you not because we have this down perfectly, but because this is an area that I need to work on myself. My task-oriented self can forget about the people around me and get caught up on all the things I need to accomplish in my day.
My hope is not to just share one activity after another (I’ll do that in another post), but instead to focus on the little things you can do to seize the small moments that cross your path each day.
Now, I do realize that sometimes there are circumstances that don’t allow you to spend a whole lot of time with your children, and if this is your situation, I hope that you find ways to adjust some of these ideas to fit your situation.
Also make sure to stop by and join our Facebook group Carpe Diem– Family Style: Because they grow up and are gone in the blink of an eye — so let’s be intentional about making each day count by seizing the moments with our children no matter what age they are and what phase of life they are in! On Fridays, we will share with you a buttload of ideas and encouragement to inspire you to connect with your kids and family.
21 Ways to Be Present This Holiday Season
1. Listen to their silly stories by stopping what you’re doing and giving them eye contact to show them they have your undivided attention.
2. Take them with you when you’re running errands. Ask them getting to know you questions.
3. In the morning, wake yourself up 5 minutes before you need to wake them up and snuggle with them in bed.
4. Sing Christmas carols together. (Who cares that you have an awful voice? Just use a silly voice!)
5. Stop and get on the floor with them and play with their dolls or join in their car racing games.
6. Join them in their Christmas movie watching, even if it’s for ten minutes. Or better yet, make popcorn and watch the whole movie!
7. While sitting next to them, rub their back or hold their hand.
8. Let them help you around the house (even if it means they aren’t really helping but creating a bigger mess). This can be a way to encourage kindness. Check out Adventures in Wunderland Blog’s Christmas Magic Kindness Jar.
9. Go on a date.
10. Before they go to bed, go outside and look at the stars or make cloud shapes (if it’s not a clear night).
11. Pay them a compliment about something you saw them do (generic is fine, but specific is always better).
12. Just share with them what you see them doing. “It looks like you’re drawing with a yellow marker.”
13. Use meal times to get to know them. If this is hard, use some table/dinner discussion questions.
14. Record a video and leave it for them to watch when they wake up.
15. Leave them notes around the house.
16. The power of 10 minutes of focused time with your child throughout the day is wonderful. Sometimes we avoid joining them because we think it will take an hour, but start off by saying, “Hey I’m about to enjoy the best 10 minutes of my day with you. Let’s play or…”
17. Read a Christmas story together. And take advantage of those times you’re waiting in line by bringing a book along or downloading one to your e-reader device.
18. Don’t underestimate the power of eating a candy cane together.
19. Hold their hands while you’re walking around doing errands.
20. Make a snowman or Christmas tree out of play dough.
21. Wrap gifts for friends and family together.