With the new year coming it's natural to start thinking about resolutions. Hit the gym, drink more water, eat healthier. But what about parenting? Are there things you want to work on in your life as a parent, things you want to improve? I've got one that is going to be first in my mind this year, and it's going to be easier said than done.
With five kids, there's a lot of chatter going on. They each have their own little stories to tell (well, maybe not the baby just yet). My oldest wants to tell me about his latest book from the library or the game he's most into, stories that he can seriously stretch out to like 10 minute plus monologues. The 8 year old wants to talk about her friends and what their new games are (mostly involving them being puppies or revolving around puppies). My four year old wants to talk about marble runs and marble run videos and tell me when new words he learned in Spanish and my two year old just wants to TALK ALL THE TIME ABOUT EVERYTHING.
The thing is, I hear them, but am I really listening to them? No. Not all the time.
I'll admit, it's not easy. There's a lot of noise in a house with a big family, and we don't always have one on one time. And sometimes the kids will just start talking while I'm making dinner (or on the phone), or when the baby is sleeping nearby or seriously when I'm in the shower. And I shush them. And then I feel bad.
Because it doesn't matter if my ten year old wants to ramble on about Minecraft for fifteen minutes, him telling me about it isn't the point, I won't be quizzed on it later. The point is he needs to and deserves to be listened to, by me. He needs my attention, and I need to give it, fully.
Because these little conversations will change and morph in time, and I will only have so many chances to connect with them when they are on each little level. Shushing them or putting it off or just passively listening while throwing in a "oh really, cool buddy" here and there is the same as just ignoring them, and I don't want to do that anymore.
Am I going to drop everything every single time they want to chat? Um, no. I would literally get nothing done, ever. But what I will do is take the time when I can to really listen and engage, and when I can't, I'm going to explain it to them, make a promise to pick the conversation up later, and also teach them about the best times to talk (ie not when I'm conditioning my hair).
So what about you? What are your parenting resolutions this year?