Are you en-joying your children?

I’ve heard so many parents say “raising children is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs in the world”. The rewarding part is the love and the joy that children bring into our lives – even before they are here.

I remember the excitement I felt when Colin and I talked about starting a family. Four months later I could hardly contain my joy when I found out we were pregnant. After repeating the home pregnancy test three times, yes, three times – just to be sure – I ran to Colin to share the great news and boy did we feel the joy!

Our son Cameron has brought so much joy to our family with his smile, laugh, ideas and playful sense of humour. I wish I could tell you that I en-joy him all day, every day, but unfortunately, I can’t; and there is one simple reason – joy is a whole being experience and presence is the key to feeling it.

I spend a lot of my day in ‘go-go-go’ mode to get things done – after all I am a busy working mum! While I might get a lot of things done, it’s at a cost as I miss out on opportunities to experience the joy of being with Cameron because I’m not ‘there’ to experience it. I don’t mean I’m not physically there, I am. What I mean is that while I’m there in body, my mind is somewhere else rattling of lists of things that need to be done and too often my focus is on outcomes like getting him dressed, bathed or fed, rather than just being together.

The realisation!

Stress and joy can’t co-exit. Anger and joy can’t co-exist. Joy comes through being in the moment and having the presence of mind, body and heart to en-joy it!

Stress and Joy can’t co-exit

Take a moment right now to reflect on how much of your day is spent feeling stressed. How stressed are you when you’re with your children? Because stress and joy can’t co-exist, you rob yourself and your child of the opportunity to en-joy each other. I was recently listening to a parenting expert who shared that because parents are often in such a hurry, they trigger their children into stress. How often do you find yourself saying “hurry up, there’s no time for that, we’re going to be late!” I’ve noticed that when I’m in a hurry, I hurry Cameron along and often it all goes wrong. He’s less co-operative because we’re both stressed and there is no chance of enjoying the time we have together.

Remembering to    S—L—O—W    right down and be present is a way to get things done and to have fun!

Anger and Joy can’t co-exit

Have you noticed how much less tolerant you are and how quickly you anger when you’re under stress or tired? Because anger and joy can’t co-exist, you deny yourself and your child the opportunity to en-joy each other. The other day Cameron ‘politely’ refused my request to pick his shoes up off the floor and to put them on the shelf with “no thank you mummy, you do it”. You might be chuckling now, as I am while writing this, but I can assure you that I wasn’t laughing at the time. I felt anger rising inside me, the negative thoughts steamed in and then somehow I remembered to just stop, breathe and calm myself. From here, I said “how about you pick up your shoes and hop like a bunny to the shelf”. Well of course my 5 year old’s big blue eyes twinkled he grabbed those shoes and hopped over to drop them off, giggling all the way. Success! We both really enjoyed the moment and the shoes ended up where they belonged too!

Obviously this isn’t going to work with your teenager, I can only imagine the look on your teens face if you suggested it, but you get the idea. With a little creativity, we can get things done in a fun way. I’ve just had an idea. Fast forward a few years to Cameron’s teen years, I could set up a mini basketball hoop above his laundry basket. To encourage him to keep his clothes off the floor he gets to enjoy ‘tossing’ them into the basket through a hoop. As long as he has some sporting ability, they should be close to the laundry basket and he’ll be practising his shots as well! Win/Win!

En-joying the moment

How much do you enjoy your life and your children? If you’re like me, you have joy in your life, but you could certainly do with more! The key is to remember the simple fact that joy can’t co-exist with any other negative emotion and I have the power of choice. I can’t experience joy if I feel overwhelmed, stressed, angry, frustrated, guilty or unappreciated. I can’t find joy for myself or with my child if my mind is racing with negative thoughts, lists of things I have to do or self-criticisms for all the things I still haven’t done. Joy is a moment away if I choose to become present and enjoy the next experience my wonderful life has to offer!