"Dad, I'm not allergic to dragons."
"You're not allergic to dragons?"
"Well, not the big dragons but I am allergic to the small dragons. Just the small ones."
Now you know: my son is allergic to dragons. I mean, just the small dragons.
This conversation came up as my wife and I were getting the kids to bed. It's now one of my favorite recent memories with my son. I had a lot of other things to get done that night and wanted to quickly get the kids down so I could get back to it. I'm sure you've been there too. Trying to rush from one thing to the next and forget to be present. If I had been rushing to get through bedtime, I would have missed this snapshot into his world.
This was a good reminder for me: making memories with loved ones doesn't just happen - we need to make the time. Maybe you need the reminder too. Making memories with our kids requires us to be present and to engage with them. Especially being present in times when we don't want to. At the end of the day, we're feeling tired, overwhelmed, or just done. Yet being present in those times can be the most rewarding.
Here are 3 keys to being present with your kids at the end of the day:
- Set the stage: set aside 10 minutes - it doesn't need to be very long. Be sure you have the TV off and phones put away so you can be present. Set the expectation that things will wind down a bit earlier so the family can spend some time together.
- Be in their world: let them pick a book to read. Or get on their level and play a game with them. This could be a board game, blocks or playing with action figures. All options are on the table.
- Talk with them: ask about the high's & low's of their day. They may come up with something profound or silly. But it's a window into their day and gives them an opportunity to put words to feelings.
Being present with the people who are important in our lives requires effort. Being present with our kids is the same. There isn't always a convenient time for it, so invest the time.
Who knows, maybe you'll find out your kids are allergic to small dragons too.