By Judi Willard
Licensed Psychotherapist and Creator of Lunchbox Love for Kids (www.sayplease.com)
When my kids were in elementary school, I was working full-time and, like many other moms I knew, I struggled to find balance between my job and family. I got the meal planning down to a science, and everyone’s schedule was practically color-coded on the calendar. However, I was feeling a need for more of a connection with my children. Life was so busy, and I wanted them to know how much I loved them, even though work and school kept us apart for many hours each day.
As a psychotherapist, I understood the importance of connecting with our kids. Connecting and bonding are ways of expressing love, encouragement and trust, which helps build confidence, self-reliance — and all the things we want for our children. Here are a few important ways to build connections:
Listen: Listen to your kids when they have something to say no matter how trivial it may seem. If you listen to the small stuff now, they’ll tell you the big stuff when they are older.
Encourage: Encourage them to go after what they want and help them along the way. This lets them know you believe in them.
Love: Tell them and show them. There is no such thing as spoiling your child by showering them with love and affection. When they enter a room or come home from school, tell them you missed them and show them how happy you are to see them by stopping whatever it is you’re doing and giving them a proper hello, a hug or kiss.
Spend Time Together: This can be planned or impromptu. Either way, spending time together playing, walking, laughing or grabbing a bite to eat lets them know they matter.
Respect: Give them your full attention when they are talking to you. Even though this can be difficult when you’re trying to make dinner, fold the laundry and help with homework; giving them your full attention lets them know that what they say counts and matters to you.
Fun: Have a good sense of humor. Being silly and laughing with your kids goes a long way in building a close relationship. Using humor can help ease tension and stress too. So go ahead and have some fun!
Even though I worked hard on the above, I still longed for a simple yet meaningful way to connect with them during the school day. And it was this longing that started my journey with Lunchbox Love™ for Kids. I began writing heartfelt notes, fun facts, and jokes for my children on napkins and cards and placing them in their lunchboxes each day. This gave us a unique way of staying connected while we were apart, and it began to completely change my kids’ lunch experience. They looked forward to each card and enjoyed them with their friends as well. My daughter’s teacher started reading the trivia to the class, and when I skipped a day because some mornings were just more hectic than others, my kids would come home, saying “Please don’t forget to pack a note in my lunch tomorrow.” And I thought to myself, “Mission accomplished.”
That’s when I decided to have the cards printed, so that every busy mother could feel as good as we were feeling. This one simple technique of including a heartfelt note, fun trivia or joke into their lunchbox each day enabled us to stay connected throughout the day.
It’s the simple things in life that are often the most special. Try putting a little note in your child’s lunchbox and see their reaction. There’s nothing that makes a kid feel better than being loved and adored by their parents!
What are some ways that you enjoy connecting with your kids?
Judi Willard is the founder of Say Please™ Inc. and creator of Lunchbox Love™ for Kids