I’ve been thinking about this lately after a trip to a soft play the other week with my little girls.
Imagine this you tell your friend your taking them out next week and they are super excited to spend time with you. They think WOW – this is going to be such a great time to connect, share an experience and just be present with one another whilst taking in the surroundings, exploring and perhaps stumbling across new things that have never been experienced before.
So fast forward to the date.
You go together and another friend is there who you had asked to come along. One that you can REALLY connect with, much more than the friend you brought with you. So you order a hot drink with that friend and sit at a table ready to have a good catch up. Leaving your other ‘friend’ to their own devices.
They happily wonder off, after all this environment is new to them and there’s lots they want to see. They run off and keep looking back wondering if your watching but your too deeply engrossed in your hot drink and conversation that you don’t even notice. Your friend stumbles across some pretty cool things and rushes back to tell you only to be greeted with ‘Not now, I’m talking’.
Your friend is feeling kinda disconnected right now. After all they thought this date was going to be an opportunity to connect and develop a relationship even further but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So your friend wanders off again, looking for other people to connect with. The friend eagerly watches another group of people wondering if they can join in, only to be physically pushed away. Now the disconnection is even greater. Not only emotionally but the physical act of being pushed away validated this feeling.
So now your friend comes back. Tired, weary and really wanting to be seen. You don’t want to be bothered by this friend so you stumble around in your bag and find something for her to eat hoping this will shut her up. It does for a short few minutes as everyone loves chocolate, but chocolate doesn’t fill the void of connection.
So now your friend gets a bit whiny, she starts to ask you if she can leave as she doesn’t want to be there anymore. You haven’t finished your hot drink yet or your conversation with your ‘special’ friend.
You’re not ready to leave yet and this day is on YOUR clock as YOU are in charge of this day that YOU arranged.
So the IPad comes out. You ask your friend what she would like to watch and you search for it – handing over the ipad in hopes that she will be quiet for at least 30 minutes or so and then you will be ready to leave with her. She’s annoying you now as you brought her out for this day that she should be enjoying. After all you paid for it, you gave her chocolate and she got to see you.
************************************ CONNECTION *********************************
If you haven’t already joined the dots replace ‘friend’ with your child and you can perhaps understand where I’m going with this.
I had this huge realisation last week as I had arranged to meet a friend in a soft play and told my toddler we were going out for a ‘fun’ day. Only to not be ‘present’ with her, neglecting her needs and I certainly wasn’t connecting with her on a conscious level and the result a tired, frustrated, dissociated toddler.
And I’ve decided that this is NOT OK. And I’m calling myself out and taking conscious steps to alter this pattern.
Is it any wonder our children act out when all they are craving is connection?? And every single day we create massive disconnection through the tiny things we don’t even realise we are doing. And then we go crazy when they zone out on the phone or IPad yet these are the tools we use to pacify them with? Or we snap at them if they keep going back to the chocolate yet this is what we emotionally control them with should they act out in public and dare I say it (embarrass us??)
We get triggered by our children when we can’t fulfil our own agenda but when they are small toddlers our agenda needs to be put aside whilst we tend to their needs.
So moving forward.
1. Soft play dates are now only for me and the girls. My phone stays in the bag or car whilst I spend time watching them, being present and being open to exploring with them. (It’s lovely to get photos of them but I think I have enough photos of them in a soft play to last a lifetime)
2. If soft play trips are with company. It’s company with children that they can play and enjoy time with. But things are put into place and friends need to know that my kids are more important than the conversation I’m holding. When a fun date is planned – my kids will always come first.
3. The above doesn’t mean friends aren’t important – they are and connecting with them on the correct level is necessary which is why ‘proper catch ups’ are scheduled in the diary with no kids.
Recognising this pattern and taking conscious steps to be more present can seriously enhance the parent/child relationship- not to mention the better behaviour by the child. On the days when I’m more aware and present there is a huge shift and more positive energy experienced by all.
Can we set aside our own agendas to be consciously connected with our children?