There’ll be plenty of red construction paper hearts, pink cupcakes and special dinners on February 14th. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all about love. But somewhere between the giant, silver foil candies and the heart-shaped sugar cookies, real love got squeezed out. As parents, we often fall into the “give them all we can ” trap, desperate to provide the best “stuff” possible for our children. With busy schedules, we sometimes forget to show real love to our children and just need a little reminder. Valentine's Day is a good day to start.
Cherished childhood memories are not made of expensive gifts or fancy parties, but of simple acts of hugs, conversations, unhurried time spent together and traditions repeated and passed down through generations. Here are a few simple ways to push “pause” and demonstrate your love throughout the year:
Say, “I love you.”
We’re so busy showing our children that we love them by making money to provide for them, taking them places and giving them things that we sometimes just forget to simply say, “I love you.” Children often feel that they are only loved when they are good or when we are praising them. No matter what is happening, make saying “I Love You” a part of every day.
“Let go” of Guilt.
Being a parent is overwhelming at times. We often question whether we are doing what is right and giving our children the right balance of love, attention and discipline they need to be successful in school and life. There’s no “right” way to be a good parent because every child is unique. Allow for your own mistakes and “let go” of the guilt.
Be with your Child.
Often times we are so busy managing our homes, running errands and taking our children to activities that it’s hard to know how much time we really spend with our children. Are we just rushing from place to place and chore to chore? Even though it’s difficult, turn off the radio, put down the cell phone and be with your child—not just around them.
Dream with your Child.
Do you remember as a child lying on your back and watching the sky, naming the shapes of clouds floating by, thinking about life and daydreaming? Simple thoughts and conversations can spark the imagination, plant a seed of curiosity or begin a dream. Every job well done, every great act of generosity began with a thought or a dream. Hang out and dream with your child.
Celebrate your Child’s Best Efforts and Successes.
When our children were infants, they would search for our smiles and approval when they pulled up, made a toy squeak or clapped their hands. Every move was a triumph. With older children, we can still praise good grades, nice manners, and also praise them, when they control their anger, help a friend and try really hard playing soccer (even though we know our kid’s not the best one on the team.)
Watch your Child Sleep.
Before you go to bed each night, spend a few minutes watching your sleeping child. Breathe in the calmness and know it’s all worth it. Those quiet moments when you aren’t barking orders or filling their latest request for snacks are some of the sweetest. Smell their hair, feel the softness of their skin and capture this special moment in your memory bank. It will help to ground you when the craziness seems overwhelming!
As parents, we often long for “sleep-in” mornings, spontaneous weekend trips and even lost career opportunities. Just because the world’s most important job doesn’t come with a paycheck, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with greater rewards: wet, slurpy kisses; little, gooey handprints and, the all-encompassing, “I’ll do anything for this kid,” love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Gigi Schweikert is the president and COO of Lightbridge Academy and an expert in the field of early childhood education and balancing work/life. She has managed corporate childcare centers and their educational programs for more than 30 years. Schweikert is a bestselling author of over twenty books focused on how to create excellence in early childhood education. Follow 1851 Franchise as she shares her tips on parenting and childcare.