As a mother of a toddler and currently eight months pregnant with my second child, I've realised that what makes me happy also makes my daughter happy. Just… being with one another.
Don't get me wrong, happiness is also sleeping-in, hot baths, and weekends away, where I just eat chocolate and watch movies! But I haven't done those things in a long time and I doubt I'll be doing them any time soon. Life as a parent is very different to life without kids! But I wouldn't change anything in my life and I want my own happiness to be reflected in my behaviour so that my daughter knows how much I love spending time with her.
When it comes to seeing my child happy, I'm sure if I offered her chocolate and ice cream and let her watch cartoons all day, she would be fairly content. But parents know that the sugar come-down can turn any delightful toddler into a raging hyperactive lunatic. That type of happiness is short-lived!
My daughter is happiest when I'm present in the moment with her, engaging and giving her eye contact. It sounds so simple but often in our busy day-to-day lives, simply taking just a few moments to simply be with our kids can seem as though we are wasting time. But it's these precious moments that matter most. It's an opportunity for us to connect with our kids and to see them, really see them.
When Essential Kids recently asked parents what made their children happy, this simple reality emerged in their responses too. "Playing with them" was a top answer, with comments like "When you peel it back, being present, playing and listening" cropping up too. Being in the moment can transpire in many different ways, for example painting pictures with our kids, kicking a football to one another in the backyard or playing at the park. It really doesn't have to be complicated.
Putting our phones down and playing a game or creating an artwork with our kids is such an easy thing to do, and I've learnt that it's these moments when my daughter is truly happy. I see it in her eyes and in her smile. She has a mother who isn't distracted, and I can honestly say that it's these moments that make me happiest too.
As parents we are all so busy; whether it's intentional or not our days are jam-packed with so many different activities, deadlines and chores that need to be done, then there is the cooking and cleaning and endless loads of washing. Life is hectic. But I know that all parents want to see their children happy, yet often we overlook the simplest things and instead try to entertain our children with excess 'stuff'. If we all take a moment to just be, we realise that the simplest things are what matter most.
Cuddles, hugs, affection. We don't always need to be doing something specific in order to spend quality time with our kids. Often just observing and letting them decide is the most rewarding experience for them but also us as parents as it allows us the opportunity to watch our children grow and learn.
Happiness for my child is when she sees me happy, and I'm happiest when I'm with her.
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