There’s so much talk these days about how parents need to be more present for their kids, more than there’s been ever before. Of course, we have technology and the internet to thank for this—the amount of distractions we have on our hands today can sometimes be so overwhelming that we as parents can get so caught up with work, social media, and other information overload that we resign the actual task of parenting to something of a chore—one of many things to be done on a checklist for the day.
So how do we really become more involved and present as parents? Are there steps or rules to follow or places to start? While there aren’t set rules to follow, there are a few things you can do to help you on your way to connecting better with your kid.
Dedicate the hours
If you really want to make the effort to be a more present parent, you obviously must put in the work and consciously dedicate your time to being 100% there for your kids. Again, being a present parent doesn’t just mean being physically around your kids, but actually being there as a person that your kids learn from, connect to, and form bonds with.
Make a conscious effort to be 100% present during your kid’s learning sessions, play time, or any time that you set aside. (Image Credit: JESHOOTS.COM)
To start, make a firm decision that you want to set aside some time every day to be with your kids free of distractions and other commitments— make sure to have no phones, no work computer, and no house chores or anything related on set. Just be there during your kid’s learning or play sessions, engaging in genuine conversation, playing, doing whatever kids activity that you both feel like doing, and just being a real parent.
Yes, this is easier said than done—it can be especially tempting to want to check on a work email or take care of some other task every few minutes, so kick things off by setting aside maybe twenty minutes to half an hour a day, then start devoting more time to being with your kid when you get more familiar and comfortable with your time management.
Make sure you’re prepared
It’s also super important to note that being present for your kids requires you to be mentally well-prepared. Being around an inquisitive young child with boundless energy is a task that requires a lot of your own attention and patience, which as we all know is quite finite.
Mental preparation is extremely important to making sure (Image Credit: Jared Rice on Unsplash)
If you’ve made the decision to be a present parent to your kid, you should try setting aside some time to get yourself into the best mental state possible before delving into your kid’s learning or play time.
Things you can do include waking up extra early to have some personal time to meditate and reflect on what you intend to achieve during the day, or to take care of any pending stressful tasks of chores before you engage with your kid—these include replying to a work group or getting dinner plans sorted. The takeaway here is to put yourself at ease when being around your kid so that your bonding time becomes a fun one for the both of you.
Allow them to fail once in a while
This might seem a little bit counterintuitive but being a present parent doesn’t mean that you’re always around your kid 24/7 teaching them how to do the right thing. Being present equates to being mindful, and often it’s a good thing for you to be mindful that your kid needs to experience both the ups and downs of life while he/she grows up.
Kids learn through trial and error, so allowing them to make mistakes is also part of being a present parent. (Image Credit: Pixabay on Pexels)
The main reason for saying this is that kids learn through many different avenues, with experiential learning through trial and error being a major one. Making a mistake and understanding the consequences of that mistake is a valuable life teacher, so allow them the space to get these experiences under their belt instead of always warning them away from committing an error.
If your kid stumbles while trying to take first steps, allow them to get back up and figure things out again before rushing over and propping them up. If your child starts crying for no reason, try to refrain yourself from immediately comforting or pacifying with a toy. Once they’ve taken the time to understand the situation, you can enhance it by having a sit down with your kid to explain what went wrong in the simple terms that they can understand.
Of course, this doesn’t mean to always leave your kid alone when he/she makes an error—you should obviously come to the rescue in the event of an injury or your kid learning and adopting a wrong habit. But the key lesson is to take a considered approach and think whether it would be better to let them learn first before you intervene.
Note down your journey
Another tip that you can use to improve yourself as a present parent is to write about your daily adventures with your kid—about what made him/her happy during a play session, about what new thing your kid learned enthusiastically, or about what you think could have been done better. The act of noting things down may seem overly academic, but many parents have seen the benefit of doing so.
It helps to note down your parenthood journey so you can learn and improve yourself as a parent day by day. (Image Credit: Pixabay on Pexels)
To elaborate, writing down your experiences daily does many good things for you: it helps you understand and remember your small achievements as a parent, see clearer the things you did that worked and the things that didn’t, plan for even better ways to be a more present parent to your kid, and most importantly, appreciate the small and fleeting moments you get spend with your little one who won’t be so little forever.
Understandably, noting them down can be yet another time-consuming process for you, so an alternative could be to use voice notes on your phone that you can replay in the future. Doing this makes you a present parent in the sense that you’re taking a proactive approach to making your parent-child bond stronger with every day.
Don’t make it a chore
Most importantly, being present as a parent should always be a fruitful endeavour and not a laborious one. Knowing how life rarely goes according to plan, your skillset as an involved parent should also include knowing how to adapt and solve when something doesn’t go the way you want it.
For example, you might get caught up with a deadline that you just can’t miss, your kid might just not feel like spending time with you, or you might even find yourself losing your cool and yelling at your kid for doing something really naughty.
Fret not, though. While these things happen and you might find yourself feeling so guilty for failing in the moment, the main thing to remember is that no parent is perfect no matter how much they try.
If you can accept that you’re guaranteed to make some mistakes along the way, it’ll make the whole learning process a much smoother one. If you skipped a day of bonding with your child, be bold enough to apologize to your kid and make amends the next day by not skipping. If you’ve unintentionally lost your temper by raising your voice, take a minute to collect yourself and then explain to your kid why it happened.
It’s an experience in growth!
No matter what you and your kid go through, every relationship is different and figuring out what works for you and your little one will take some time and experimentation. But if you want a little help, there are always tools—such as books, toys, or even food items—that you can use to enhance your kid’s learning sessions so that both of you get the most out of them.
Our personal favourite method is to use our immersive sound books such as the Rasa Sayang Sing-and-Record Fun Book to practice karaoke-style singing with our babies and toddlers before bed time, and also the Press-and-Learn English Malay Chinese Words Sound Book to teach our kids about the things in their world during the day. You can find both these books and more at our online store here.
It helps to note down your parenthood journey so you can learn and improve yourself as a parent day by day.
(Image Credit: Pixabay on Pexels)
And every once a while, we also like to seek inspiration from other parents to uncover more ways we can make being a parent more fun and exciting. If you need some inspiration yourself, our ever-growing blog is filled with more articles like these to help you out with insights and ideas that you can apply yourself. Check out our blog here.
At the end of the day, parenting should be treated as something for both you and your kid to treasure and enjoy, and like we said before, there really isn’t a hard or fast rule for how to be more involved and immersed in your kid’s life. Just savor the moment and have fun!