Answers from YouthZone
The logistics of parenting and modern living can feel overwhelming. As facilitators of the morning, mealtime, and bedtime routines ” not to mention homework, play dates, soccer practice, and more ” we are busy.
One way to greatly ease the stress of daily mechanics is to practice connecting before logistics. Morning is often the most intense part of our day. There is usually a long list of “to-dos” to make it out the door on time: pack lunch, get dressed, eat breakfast, put coats on, etc. In my own home, I began to notice that many days the kids left for school on a tense note, which left all of us feeling stressed and disconnected.
I asked myself the all-important question: What can I do to create more peace in the morning? The answer was to connect first. As a result, my morning practice now is to connect with my children before I utter one word about logistics. I walk into my child’s room, give them a hug and a kiss, make loving eye contact, and say, “Good morning.” This takes all of ten seconds, yet sets an incredibly loving and connected tone for the morning. Only after I have connected to each child do I talk logistics like, “Time to eat breakfast … pack your homework … brush your teeth.” When I practice connecting before logistics, mornings run exceptionally well. My children are much more likely to cooperate, and I feel calmer and more connected all day long.
If you make a habit of putting logistics before connecting with your kids, it leads to disconnection. Even a small move towards connecting can offer big rewards.
A single mother of two boys, ages 9 and 11, attended one of my programs and shared that she felt very disconnected and sad about the lack of communication with her boys. She claimed that the only communication in their home was related to logistics. “Did you do your homework? Where’s your backpack? Dinner’s ready.” The boys, especially the older one, answered most questions with a single word. I encouraged her to try connecting before logistics. After finishing his homework, her older son usually retreated to his room to listen to music. She decided she would stop cleaning the kitchen and join him instead.
The next week she reported her experience. “I went into his room and just sat on the bed. He didn’t quite know what to do at first, but I asked a few questions about his music and he started talking.”
“What happened next?” I asked.
Choked with tears now, she said, “Every time I got up to leave the room, he said, ‘Don’t go yet.’ So I stayed in his room until 10:45 on a school night.”
Often, all we have to do is move toward our children with an open attitude, a desire to connect, and no agenda. As often as possible throughout the day, stop what you’re doing and follow your child’s lead. If she’s got something special to share with you, or he’s fussing for no specific reason, let go of the logistics and connect. That’s when miracles happen.
Vickie Falcone is parent program coordinator at YouthZone.
Have a question you would like answered in this column? Ask YouthZone. Call us at 945-9300 or e-mail us at email@example.com. Be sure you note that the question is for the Answers to YouthZone column.
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