Routines that connect us
Routines that connect us
I have a wonderful memory from my childhood that still makes me smile. We called it “Friday night”. Every Friday when Dad came home from work he would have a treat for us. It was usually one of four or five different things – maybe a bag of snowballs (the chocolate and marshmallow type) or our favourite kind of lollies to share. We would hear him opening the front door from our upstairs bedrooms and we would scream and run for the stairs. “Dad’s home!! It’s Friday night!!!” as we leapt down the stairs four or five at a time to greet him.
It was a simple ritual. And it was regular. We looked forward to it, we could rely on it. We knew our Dad would remember. It was an act of kindness and a moment of family connection that happened week after week.
Our kids need moments of connection with us. It might mean going for a walk together, or enjoying a cup of tea and a chat after school. It might be snuggling up for a movie, playing a board game, reading stories together each night or repeating favourite little songs and games as we go about our day. it might mean setting time aside to take one child at a time out and being available to listen, to take an interest in what is going on in their world.
And day after day, these small interactions will build our relationships with our children. Over time they build a strong emotional connection that will serve our kids and mean that we are the ones they will come to to talk things over. Our home and our relationship will provide a safe place that they can always come back to.
Some recent research in USA involved 90 000 12-14 year-olds. It identified strong emotional connection with parents as the factor that protected young people from high-risk behaviour more than anything else. Feeling loved and understood by their parents actually strengthened teenagers to cope with peer pressure and make wise choices. They were less stressed, and less likely to engage in early sex, experiment with drugs and alcohol or harm themselves or others.
Time to connect together can be hard to find in our busy lives. But the busier our daily lives are, the more important it is to have those moments that our children can rely on and look forward to.
They become stable points in what can be a hectic pace of life. Children will know, “This is what we always do.”
“We have pancakes every Saturday morning.”
“In the morning Dad and I always feed the chickens together.”
“We have stories in bed every night.”
“Mum always makes a cup of tea after dinner and we can sit and talk.”
These become special times the children can rely on. And we can be sure all our children are being nurtured and feeling loved and noticed. Of course we can also do things together spontaneously, but if we wait for those to happen, our kids might miss out.
If we can keep a few of these rituals and routines even when there is change happening and life is feeling chaotic, our kids will cope better with the uncertainties. They will know that they matter to us. We might be really busy but they will know that at these times they have our full attention, no matter what.
Moments of connection become a memory, a way to build strong relationships.
They keep us anchored to each other, and to what is really important.