On Jet Skiing And Meaningful Engagement

A few weeks ago, after dropping our girls off at school for camp, Grant, Luke and I joined some friends down at a local beach for the afternoon.

These friends also have three children - the same ages as our kids. And their kids go to the same school as ours, so they had also just dropped their girls off and were, like us, experiencing a one child family.

Looking back at these photos now, brings back memories of how quiet it was when the girls were away on camp...

For five days, Luke was like an only child. He got our undivided attention, he didn't have to negotiate with his sisters about which TV programme to watch, he didn't have to wait his turn for a-n-ything. And oh yes, he totally lapped that all up with a beeeg spoon! Nom nom nom. But to be fair, that's not to say that he didn't miss them - because he certainly did. I know that because he asked me on more than one occasion, when they were coming home. Little sweetie.

We all missed them, but I've got to say that it was a great opportunity to spend good, uninterrupted time with just one child. Alone. Without anyone else asking you to look at something. Or to come and help them with something. It was an absolute treat.

Often being caught up in a busy schedule, (like most people these days), I find that I have to make a conscious effort to properly connect with each of my children to find out what's happening in their school lives, to listen to their stories and worries; and to truly engage. So, to get this time alone with Luke was very special.

I used to find that having to 'truly engage' with three children, at the same time, would overwhelm me at times. I don't know why, but I always felt that I needed a big block of time to make a real connection. But I was 'too busy' - either driving to and from extra-murals, cooking, tidying, making sure the kids had done their homework or reminding them to get organized for the next day - and thought I didn't have enough time to have any 'real' connections. So while we did chat, it was mostly about superficial things.

Lately I find I'm more relaxed about it and take the moments where I can - I turn the radio down in the car while driving them somewhere because the car is a great place to chat; sometimes while I'm cooking dinner and they're busy with their homework at the dining room table I make a point of catching up with their day's happenings; other times when they're playing or drawing alone I might go over and have some one-on-one time, to see how they're really feeling; and often the best chats happen at bed time.

And while I've always known that it doesn't have to be a long, official kind of event - that it can be a short and sweet encounter that happens more often - now I'm actually doing it. Living it. And it's working. I've made that shift in my mind - to make the time and use those opportunities to have meaningful talks. Or superficial fun - whatever fits the situation.

Okay, you're probably thinking - "Geez, lady! Obvs. Duh!" And yes, it's true, I'm joining the party late on this one, but wow! I'm here now. And it feels good. And yes, I'd love a glass of Chardonnay, please.

Have you ever known something in theory, but just hadn't put it into practice in your life? 

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