by Stephanie Morgan - Modern Parents Messy Kids
As parents, it's our goal to forge a strong bond with our children so they'll hopefully turn to us when they're struggling in life. But how do we make that happen? One way is by being intentional about the time we spend with our kids. In today's face-paced world, it's easier than ever to let opportunities to connect with our children pass us by. In trying to provide the best for our families, we often over-schedule and under-connect.
I'm as guilty of this as anyone. Just last week, after a day full of grocery shopping, preschool, and a play date, I realized I hadn't looked my 2 year old son in the eye while talking to him a single time in the last 8 hours. I'd been interacting with him plenty (asking him questions, singing songs, telling him what we would be doing next) but the entire day he was in the backseat of the car, playing on the floor, or eating dinner while I was driving, folding laundry, or texting with a friend about our cranky, teething babies.
We have opportunities every day to teach our children to talk to us. All we have to do is stop multi-tasking (which isn't a real thing anyway - something always falls through the cracks), get down on their level, and give them our full attention. If you continue to find yourself failing to connect, try scheduling some special family activities on a regular basis. They don't have to be fancy or expensive, just chunks of time when your kids can count on you being fully present. You'll be amazed at what they share during these moments (and with very little prompting) and the younger they are when you start, the better.
Camping is one such activity that's been high on our family's priority list since our kids were born. It's cheap, anyone can do it, and there's tons of time for conversation. And even though our kids are still very small (2 years and 14 months), we haven't let that stop us. Don't get me wrong, I'm not fearless. In fact, there's nothing that says "nightmare" to me more than the idea of trying to camp with a baby.
So instead of packing up the family and heading to the mountains, we did the next best thing and headed to the backyard. Actually my husband did (this was kind of a boys thing) and my son, C, absolutely loved every minute of it. We did this in the summer months but your family could have just as much fun pitching a tent in the middle of the living room this winter.
First up was actually constructing the thing. We got this beauty (a 6 person dome tent) at REI on clearance - score! I guess there are benefits to being the last people in town to buy a tent for the summer. C got to help set it up and here he's giving the experience two thumbs up.
The boys checked out their digs for the night and then it was time to eat.
Grilled hot dogs were on the menu... almost as good as dogs roasted over a fire pit.
Only one thing was left to make the camping experience complete - S'mores.
After dinner the boys got out their sleeping bags and prepared to bunk down for the night.
The thing about sleeping outdoors is you have to stay up late because the sun's still up. So we loaded up the tent with our recent finds from the local library and had some relaxing reading time.
Eventually it did start to get dark. C brushed his teeth and put on his PJs (we thought the camo was especially appropriate).
Then one last story and it was bedtime.
My husband kissed C goodnight and he and I sat at our table just outside the tent chatting for a while. We kept waiting for C to call for us and say he didn't like being alone in the tent - it never happened. In fact he liked it a little too much. He was so excited that he never fell asleep and we finally took him to his crib around 10:30 pm. All and all it was a very successful, and memorable, day. I was glad C had such a great time and it made me that much more excited for when the kids are old enough to go camping for real.
Stephanie Morgan is mom to a 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter and the founder of Modern Parents Messy Kids (MPMK for short).
MPMK provides parents with products, information, activities and
design to engage their kids, organize their life, and add a little style to their homes. Stop by for daily bits of inspiration as well as a large collection of activities in The Make & Play Vault and reading resources
in The Book Nook.