The importance of 'checking in' with kids.
We’re all in the thick of it, and we’re all coping differently.
Some of us are okay, some of us are [really, really] not.
We may be noticing that our children have different needs than ‘normal’; they may be needing more physical attention, more quality one-on-one time, more direction, more freedom, more patience, more boundaries, more dancing, more food […ahem, yes: me & mine!], more EVERYTHING and we’re overwhelmed with where to start.
But! Regardless on how well we may [or may not!] be coping, I am sure we can all agree that the time is NOW to place emphasis on connecting with our children.
The ideal model of ‘connection’ within the family unit differs for us all. And while I ordinarily pride myself on placing huge emphasis on connection within my children, I’ll be the first to admit, that during recent times and feeding off the disjointed energy of this current global climate- I’ve found myself forgetting my ‘normal’ and coming undone [ with patience thinner than the thinnest ice] at the thought of meeting not only my needs, but the needs of my children.
I, and perhaps many of us, are finding ourselves needing a little more direction or reminding to pause, sink in & connect to offer space for listening ears, compassion and understanding.
Wherever you sit on the I’m Their Parent Vs I’m Their Friend spectrum; I know we’d all agree that it’s imperative we understand that ultimately, our role is to guide, model behaviour [through trial, error, honesty] and offer them space to learn about themselves.
I stumbled across an image floating on Facebook that was reshared from Believe PHQ [Twitter] that showcased some activities we could carve out the time for to ‘check in’ with our children and their mental health.
They might not all resonate for some, but for me I was pleasantly surprised at how much I needed this reminder and enjoyed these prompts.
Below I have fleshed out my thoughts on a couple of the prompts I feel most inspired to implement.
🌼 WORRY TIME: This one I love. For me, when I am navigating though some feelings, I often tell my partner that I need to talk about some things that are concerning me, and if he’d be able to hold that space later on in the day [or at a time that suits us both]. I know during this time, that he’ll be present and I am able to move past the small talk and move straight onto the matters of the heart. And he knows and has full awareness of what to expect during this carved out time.
Setting aside a designated time for this with children allows you [me, us!] to be at full capacity to hear, understand, and hold space for their concerns.
🌼 ACTIVITY PLANNING: Creating a plan with a rough schedule of things everyone would like to do [whether a pleasurable activity or an achievement related activity] allows for a chance to talk and explore things that are of interest to them [Ie; ‘I want to learn how to do a back flip in the pool!’ or ‘I would like to write a short story!’ or ‘I want to build the hugest tower with only blue Lego blocks!’] that we might not of already known.
This gives us as parents a chance to understand more of their interests, and carving out time to explore them lets them know that it’s important for us to help them find special time to participate in and/or achieve them.
🌼 BEING PRESENT: The art of being ‘present’ and practicing ‘mindfulness’ is, for many us, easier said than done. To truly *switch off* in a World and society that is so inherently *switched ON* can prove challenging at times. This prompt reminded me of something that I’ve often practiced with my girls; asking them to lay still, connect with their breath while feeling and listening into the sensations they’re experiencing. Sounds, touch, taste, light. This practice has also been brought into our walks, car rides and some meals – but, inviting mindfulness and presence to their day is a self-awareness & connection tool I have forgotten to reach for in current times.
🌼 IMAGERY: On the flip side of ‘presence’ a beautiful and equally important space of ‘anything is possible!’ exists. And this prompt of engaging with your child to imagine their perfect imaginary future explores the idea of manifesting and sinking into the ideology that ‘everything will be okay’. This can be explored using a similar approach to ‘presence’ – connecting with breath, sensations and flowing into a guided mediation of sorts. Or, though more tangible actions of creating a vision board, written goals list, journal entry, a short story or a simple conversation that affirms their dreams, the eradication of their worries and promotion of their ‘positive future’.
All of this aside; the most important reminder we can adhere to while navigating the responsibilities of parenting smalls during a global pandemic: you cannot pour from an empty cup.
You can’t, I can’t, we can’t.
Fill your cup.
Be honest with yourself, your partner and your children – if you need time and space to regulate your own emotional energy field and fill your cup – say so.
And please [please!] give yourself permission to explore that.
Love Kim Darby.
Ps: Next up! I’ll be sharing more about the activities we explore in our home to connect & check in.
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