In this day and age where life is so busy it feels like your days roll from one to another and if you reflect on the past year it seems like a blur. The ‘rat race’ we take part in every day is a never-ending cycle and it’s hard to keep a work/life balance. One day – you suddenly realize that your beautiful baby – is a baby no more and the old saying “stop to smell the roses” holds more significance than ever.
How do I keep a connection with this person who is developing so rapidly, which approach do I take? The parent or the friend? At the heart and soul of this long talked about topic – for me, the answer is always the same. A parent is a parent, your children don’t need another friend, they need a mother and a father and a solid role model that will continue to support, listen, encourage and love just as much now, as they did when they first reached out for you when they took their first steps.
My father was a businessman; he travelled a lot and was always in “business mode”. In saying this, my father placed just as much emphasis on quality family time as he did his work. If there are two things my father taught me that I’ve never forgotten is that; A: the hub of the family home is the kitchen and B: always make time for a good road trip.
ROAD TRIP TIME:
Nothing beats a good road trip and the adventures you have along the way, I remember one trip my father and I were driving from The Gold Coast to Sydney –my father found out more about me in that trip than he did in the entire 16 years he’d known me. I was a typical 17 year old, attitude, craving a sneaky cigarette, texting boys along the way “OMG my dad is so lame with UB – 40 pumping like it’s the black eyed peas – SAVE ME”, however, by the time the 10 hour car ride was over, I stepped out of the car in total disbelief, I just told my dad, I wasn’t a virgin, I had a boyfriend, and skip school sometimes – total confessional session and it was not intentional. He had me in a car for so long, all he had to say was “So how are you sweetheart” and all of a sudden, I was pouring my heart out.
We are now over a decade on and I drive my own children to Sydney (to visit grand-dad), I listen to my children discussing, bullying, teachers, friends, the latest trends and games, what they look at on “YouTube” and have to answer some pretty hairy questions like “how are babies made”.
If you’re not a “road trip” kind of family, simply take the long way home from school or to the shops. Sitting in the car, being close together, encourages conversation – I have had many conversations with my children whilst driving home from school and often taken a “wrong turn” on the way home to keep the conversation going. It’s wonderful.
AT THE TABLE
Think of big Italian or Spanish families, they surround meals with family, laughter and conversation. Your kitchen/dining room is the pulse of your home, Make it social, and make it fun! Whether your child is 4 or 14, I can guarantee they have an I Pad and its one of the hardest things to turn off or make them put down, whether they are looking up barney or boobies, the reaction to your “can you please put the I Pad down, we are about to eat” is always the same – “yea one minute’ or ‘I’m not finished this level’. You need to nip this in the bud. Limit time and stick to it. Either I Pad only on weekends or for 1 hour a day, physically take the I Pad once the children have had their designated time and put it somewhere they cant get. The next day, you can say “its 4pm sweetheart, would you like I Pad time?” – as long as you keep schedules consistent, children – no matter what age, will fall into routine – its human nature. Children are more inclined to eat something they have helped create, so allowing and inviting the children to help prepare and cook the family meal, is always a bonus for them, of course they want to sit down, eat with family and see the reactions from others who try what they have helped create! Its fun, its sensory, its involving and most of all –its bonding. By eating and talking together over meals, your making memories and your children will remember moments like this forever.
Every mother is reading this thinking – there is absolutely no way my 15 year old son or daughter is going to take a road trip with me or enjoy if I take a wrong turn home to make them take – you’re right, this is for the younger generation. Your teen is at a very . Look to your teen’s interests and ways you can support or encourage them. Perhaps they like singing and dancing, so why not go to a theatre production together for a mother/daughter/son night out.
Life is about love and enjoyment. So love and enjoy.