I Will Make Time Because You Matter To Me

During my parenting classes I hand out slips of paper to each parent for them to fill in.  On the piece of paper it reads:

“Dear _____, I want to support you in building healthy self-worth.  For you are loveable and you are valuable.  One thing I will do every day this week to spend quality engaging time with you is: ________________.  I will make time for this because you matter to me.” 

This is an attempt to get the parents to think concretely about things they can do with their children to build connection and nurture the relationship.  It’s easy enough to think, “Oh, I will pay more attention to my children this week.”  But–unless you can concretely visualize doing that in your mind and you set a strong intention–daily living, responsibilities and distractions tend to get in the way.  I encourage parents to fill in the slips of paper (one for each child) and put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror or somewhere where they are daily reminded of their intention to connect and nurture.

One mom reported at the next meeting that initially she was a little confused when I gave her one for her new baby.   She had no trouble envisioning activities she could do with her 4 year old (like reading a book together, creating dinner together, going to the park with their bikes) but what can I do with a baby? she wondered.  

After some thought, she decided to give it try.  She wrote “Dear Samuel, I want to support you in building healthy self-worth.  For you are loveable and you are valuable.  One thing I will do every day this week to spend quality engaging time with you is: to look into your eyes while you are nursing.  I will make time for this because you matter to me.” 

She reported that when she started doing this, looking into her baby’s eyes instead of doing other tasks (like checking emails) while he nursed, that she felt a sweet connection with her baby who also gazed up into his mother’s eyes.  She also noticed what a difference it made in her, as her body relaxed, as her mind enjoyed a peaceful moment, and as she let the responsibilities of the day fade into the background.  The moment became  just about mother and baby, connecting and bonding. The shift helped her to connect with herself and with her baby and she came to enjoy these precious nursing breaks in her day, instead of seeing them as a necessity that got in the way of doing other things.

Haven’t most of us been there before?  Overwhelmed as parents and multi-tasking to get things done? I can clearly remember standing at the stove stirring a pot with one hand, holding a nursing baby with the other, while talking on the phone which was wedged between my neck and ear.  Really?  How much would it have cost me in time if I had put the pot on simmer, told my friend that I would call her back, and sat down in the comfy chair with my baby and gazed into his eyes as he nursed?  Did I really save that much time by doing it all at once?  And more importantly, did I lose something with that choice….like a moment of sweet connection and bonding and a message with my eyes that said, “I will make time for this because you matter to me.”

I invite you to look at the choices you are making today.  What messages do they send to your child?