As Valentine’s Day grows near, the store shelves are filled with chocolate hearts and stuffed animals. They’re sure to delight your little one, but sometimes it’s more about the things you do all year long, rather than on this day of love. Here are five, less obvious, ways to show your child just how much you care.
1. Teach your children how to swim. We live in a warm climate along the coast. During the spring, summer, and fall our kids spend countless hours the pool and ocean. I’ve had my own close call, so when I tell you the unthinkable can happen in only minutes, even amongst many adults, believe me. The good news is that many of the local recreation, fitness, and aquatic centers offer year-round swim lessons for all ages and abilities. It’s never too early to start and you shouldn’t stop until the level after you feel your child has really got it.
2. Take your little one to the library. Our area is filled with them and I’ve been a fan of their wonderful youth programs for years. The librarians start with story-times for the little ones and go with gaming hour and book clubs for the older patrons. Typically membership is free and so are their events. Through the library you can bring your child an endless supply of words, colors, imagination, and interaction.
3. Maintain your health. There are so many reasons why we’re too busy or it’s inconvenient to eat right, exercise, and see a doctor. Think about it. Who would fill your shoes if you were ill? Who would go to work or get up in the middle of the night to comfort away a bad dream? As parents, we tend to put our family’s needs above our own. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the intention to workout only to fill that time with a child’s request.
Look at this as an investment. Protecting the time it takes us to shop for and prepare good food keeps our bodies healthy, as well as increases the chances that we’re feeding our family well. Exercising reduces stress, boosts our cardiovascular capacity for more stamina, and increases our flexibility which reduces the risk of injury. Last, seeing a doctor routinely makes it more likely that any issue will be caught and dealt with quickly. You and your family are worth that time spent.
4. Nurture your relationships. Kids can tell when their parents aren’t connecting. Conversations are short. Touching is minimal. And while the machine of your household is moving smoothly, everyone knows it could be better.
I was that mom who had tons of offers from Grandmas to watch the baby, but I didn’t take them up on it for several months. Now I’m a fan of the regular outing sans children. While I adore them, I crave time with my husband where I don’t have to play tic-tac-toe on the kid’s menu, cut someone’s food, or take anyone to the bathroom. We don’t have a “no talking about the little ones” rule or anything, but we do fully appreciate the ability to chat about anything without interruption. We had a relationship long before the children were born and I have no guilt over enjoying that again. It almost always leads to more courtesy and kisses – something everyone appreciates.
5. Act like a kid. Seriously Mom, lighten up. Ditch most of the rules and get dirty finger painting, play flashlight tag until the mosquitos come out, spin in circles and get dizzy, or have a parade around your house complete with clanging pot lids as cymbals. The responsibilities our lives bring have our children seeing us “on the job” most of the time. Imagine how much joy they get when we let our hair down and just play! The smiles and giggles are contagious on Valentine’s Day or any other.
Photo credit: BenSpark and Fanny
As printed in the February 2013 issue of Parent News.
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