Published on: November 24, 2017
By Nikki de Wet
“Look Mama, Hannah jump”; “Hannah did roly-poly Mama”; “Hannah make circle”; “What’s this Mama?”; “This piece go here Mama?”… does this sound familiar?
If you have a toddler I bet that you can identify with this. All day, everyday my little girl wants me to watch her, to notice her achievements, to be present.
Sometimes she will even take my face in her two hands and turn it towards her to make sure I am focused and listening.
My UNDIVIDED attention is so important to her.
It has been impressed upon us that our children need a portion of time during which we are focused on them. Most studies, blogs, and opinions I’ve come across suggest ten to fifteen minutes a day is sufficient.
We turn off electronic devices, get down to their level, and do something they enjoy. But here’s the bit that really hit me….it’s UNDIVIDED attention. When I played with my little girl, I found that my body was present but my mind was running to-do lists, thinking about when to start dinner, mulling over a conversation from earlier in the day, and watching the clock. Is it just me? I really battle to switch it all off and just focus on her. And let me tell you, she may not be able to articulate it at her age, but she sure can tell the difference between a fully attentive mama and one who is only half present.
It takes self-control and effort to switch off those distractions.
I’m a work in progress, but when I manage to do this, it is totally worth it. The benefits for her are obvious but what I underestimated were the benefits for ME. When I give her my undivided attention I really SEE her.
I notice new things about her I never did before and gain a greater understanding of her uniqueness. This knowledge helps me to meet her needs, support her, discipline her, and love her in the ways that are best for her. It helps me to be the best parent for her that I can be.
So, don’t underestimate those small pockets of time, for our time and UNDIVIDED attention is truly a most wonderful gift to give ourselves and our children.