The end of the day is tough for everyone, parents and children alike.
Parents can be frazzled, rushing home for tea or bath time, while still thinking about that final unsent email or a difficult conversation at work. However, we also want to hear about our child’s day but kids are tired and transitions are hard. I find them difficult and I am nearly 40. They send my son loopy!
However, when I spoke to other working parents of all ages and parenting experts, I was not alone in this. I was already doing the obvious; keeping my phone silently buried in my bag to avoid distracted glances or getting down on the floor to play on his level but was there more?
Put the phone down.
Morning Sunshine! Start the day right!
Set your alarm and get up a little earlier to have a calm moment with your child(ren) before the frantic routine of breakfast, dressed, car. No one likes to be rushed and having a bit of buffer time establishes the mood for the day and also, that night.
Clare Stead, Founder of Oliiki, explains that the entire success of coming back together starts with how you leave each other in the morning. If you leave the house frazzled, your child will pick up on your mood and feed off it, that in turn will help to feed your stress. That will mean that leaving your child at day care or school will be more challenging which will add to your stress and colour your day! So try hard to be organised.
“One thing I always did in the morning when I was driving to drop my little ones off was to talk through their day with them. I would explain the next steps (even from them being a tiny baby in the car seat) and tell them what would happen next in the day, the final sentence was always, “and then mummy will go to work. Remember, mummy will go, but mummy always comes back so I’ll see you later. Then drop them at the child care, get them engrossed in an activity, say goodbye and leave. (prolonging the leaving can make it much harder for everyone). Doing it this way means that you leave calmly and your child is calm, which makes for a calmer day for you and your child.”
Less is More: Pick Up
A huge smile and a hug, if wanted, is mostly all any child needs straight out of the gate. Olivia Williams, SVP, Portfolio Development & Strategy at Ørsted, and Top 40 women in the KPMG Women in Energy network, recommends, “Don’t talk, just listen. Try not to start the interaction with “how was your day?” as you will almost always get a short answer like, “Fine. Don’t know. Good.” Offer to carry their backpack or sit with them, let them show you something or lead conversation, even if it’s about ‘nothing,’ they will see you listening, really listening.”
If you have the luxury of a nanny at home, try not to walk into a transition e.g. sitting down to tea or going up for bath time, many children will find it all too overwhelming.
If driving home from daycare, Clare suggests a good old fashioned sing song, “Science shows us that singing together releases dopamine which makes us feel good. When you sing, you also need to take deep breaths, which in turn help you to relax so you get a double feel good hit for your money. As you sing, you will also be developing your child’s brain and building their learning pathways – not bad for a trip back from the office!
Saturday Night Live: Prepare for the week.
I still get the Sunday night blues made worse by facing chores, rather than Netflix, at 7pm! As a family, we have moved our Sunday night’s hellish activities – washing, cooking for the week, supermarket sweep – to Saturday.
However, whenever you do it, take a moment to think through what will be needed for the week.
The hanger is real, and that’s just mine! No one wants to be faced with a starving child.
Clare Stead, Founder of Oliiki, suggests writing a plan and even, to make the meals ahead of time. Try not to starting from scratch with food decisions when you get home.
Clare goes to explain that you can even make a connection while waiting for supper, “If it will be a while until the meal is ready, plan a snack to tide them over, it doesn’t need to be fancy, a carrot takes a long time to eat, has a heap of crunch and if eaten carefully, they might be able to get to the ‘secret carrot’ hidden inside the carrot (the core). You might also benefit from having a carrot with them. Take the time to chat to them as you both munch. Find out about their day. This will give you both a full stop, a chance to breath, reconnect before starting again.”
Parent and Baby Coach, Heidi Skudder makes the point that as parents we often get caught up in the rigmarole of our daily routine; get home, eat dinner, bath the children, read them a story and put them to bed.
Heidi often encourages clients to occasionally miss out the bath and use that time instead to do a one to one activity with their child, “give your child your focused attention, using detailed positive praise whilst being with them and getting as much eye contact and touch as you can, will fill their love tank ready to go again the following day.”
After supper is the perfect moment for everyone to have their ‘own’ time with you, even if it is only 5 minutes of total focus, important in a multi-child family. Curl up and read a book together, it gives you both a chance to reconnect physically, as well as emotionally.
A usual nightly routine starts a rhythm of winding down. It usually during this time that parents will get answers to more leading questions, “who did you play with during break?” or “what made you laugh today?”
It ends the day with a sense of togetherness and calm.
Put them down and breathe!
About the author
Cecily Henderson is the co-founder of PomPom, an award-winning website for unusual and imaginative designs for babies and children; toys, gifts and homewares. It is home to the indoor climbing triangle. PomPom is proudly plastic-free.
WeAreTheCity covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in business, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.