I Love You, But Please Stop Talking
I realize kids grow up fast, and I should cherish every second with my child, but what I want right now is silence, earplugs, and a nap. And maybe some chocolate.
There are few things more disheartening to a child than having an awesome story to tell and no one to listen. As a mom, you’re physically there, but mentally you are zoned out, and you potentially stopped listening five minutes ago. You’ve got stuff going on. You’re replaying events in your head, and it’s hard to put that aside and listen to things that appear trivial or uninteresting.
WARNING! As understandable as it is that you’re disinterested in insignificant chatter, your lack of interaction could be training your kids to stop coming to you with the small stuff. Unfortunately, when they perceive you don’t care about the small stuff, their mouths also remain closed to you when the big stuff rolls around.
You can find a balance where your child feels heard and validated, and you still get crucial downtime to process your struggles and rejuvenate your body, mind, and spirit,
3 Ways to Stay Present
Below are a few ways to encourage the desire to:
- Keep connecting with your child (even when it’s difficult)
- Schedule time for yourself to process and rest so you can enjoy being present
- Manage expectations while life unfolds
#1: Be Prepared
Create a schedule and password document. Certain things happen every day, week, month, and year. When things are hectic, surprises are bad. Forgetting tasks or appointments isn’t great either. Try to give yourself that mental safety net before something unexpected happens, to help your mind not wander in downtime with your child. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your thought process and memory may be suffering a little. The last thing you need is stress about forgetting something, like the password for Netflix when you promised your child you would connect and have a movie night.
Make sure to schedule time together and use reminders or alarms, so you don’t forget. Time to connect has to be a priority, even if it’s written in pencil.
#2: Shut Off the World and Have FUN
Turn off that phone. Shut off the TV, tablets, and Xbox and make an intentional effort to connect with your child.
Do they love legos? Sit on the floor and build a fantastic castle together!
Is cooking something they enjoy? Ask them to help make dinner and a yummy dessert!
What’s their favorite book? Make a fort and take turns reading out loud.
We can still look for joy even in the hard times. In the simple things. In our child’s laughter. Or in the quiet contentment after they’ve had our undivided attention. Or in a long hug after a day of playing.
God has given us a spirit of peace and joy so that even amid the chaos, we can find our encouragement in Him.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12
#3: Have Healthy Expectations
Things our kids are not:
A tool to invoke emotion
A side taker
Someone to vent to
These are unhealthy ways to connect and be present in our children’s lives. It’s up to us to meet them where they are, not bring them up to our level.
Remember not to put grown-up emotions onto your children.
Your kids are dealing with their own stuff. If you’re in the midst of a crisis or having a bad day, you need an adult support network. Be intentional about keeping in touch with family and friends, so that if you’re overwhelmed, you feel comfortable enough to reach out for counsel. Children can feel your emotions, so be careful not to make the environment feel unsafe, angry, or hopeless.
Our prayer hotline is also open 24/7 if you need a listening ear and someone to pray with you–855-822-PRAY.
Put Your Mask On First
There’s a reason before a flight takes off, that the flight attendant tells the passengers to put their mask on before helping others. If you’re not caring for yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.
As a mom, you have needs too. Make sure your cup is full.
Here’s a quick self-care checklist to consider. Add to it!
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy food
- Get exercise or a physical activity
- Attend to personal hygiene
- Seek medical care when needed and able
- Wear clothing I like
- Take deep breaths during the day
- Take a nap
- Don’t put too much to do on my plate
- Make time for self-reflection
- Listen to music I enjoy
- Set boundaries with toxic or negative people
- Memorize Bible verses
- Spend time praying
- Allow myself to cry
- Keep a journal
Remember, you are a child of God also, and you’re still a woman and human being, along with being a mother.
Kids will be overjoyed with any uninterrupted time they can get with a parent. Speaking from experience, even a 10-minute show-and-tell of how they built their Minecraft house will bring them SO MUCH JOY. You don’t need to start scheduling deep two-hour conversations or wearing BFF necklaces. Schedule just a little time, and be sure to follow through. Your consistency will prove to your kids that you’re engaged and present, and it will help the time together become a habit.
So, have fun planning the next fun activity with your child. Think outside of the box and give them your undivided attention, but it’s ok to keep those earplugs handy too!
Shepherd’s Village University: A FREE online learning center focused on equipping and strengthening today’s single mother.
Penzu: an online journal that is password protected. It’s easy to use, and you can add photos to your journal entries.
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Need Prayer?: We have an online prayer request form, and we’d love to pray for you. You can also call our prayer hotline if you’d like to pray with someone directly 855-822-PRAY
About the Author:
Christen Peterson loves volunteering her time to nonprofits and has a heart for those in need. She was a single mom to her oldest daughter until she met her husband in Idaho, where they lived for 17 years before moving to Florida. Together, they have been involved in ministry for over ten years and have three daughters and four dogs.