Journey Toward Being A More Engaged Parent

Mowing

Tonight my oldest son Tyler (4 and a half year-old) & I will be going to a yearly tradition, Dad’s Night at his pre-school. It’s a chance to spend some one on one time and enjoy a show (puppets this year). That’s followed up with a donut and a visit to his classroom where he typically has a handmade art surprise for me. It’s a short event but gives us an opportunity to spend time together without any distractions.

There are distractions everywhere and they are only getting worse. Take the new Facebook “Home” Android Apps where social media is on your home screen and always there. The television commercials even suggest it’s a great way to ignore boring family members. Although it’s tough to get “above the noise,” I’ve found a couple of ways to be more engaged with my kids.

First Impressions: Both our boys get excited when my wife’s car pulls in to the driveway. When I pick up Tyler from school he always yells “Daddy!” Take advantage of that excitement. Whether you or the kids get home first, make a conscious effort to minimize all distractions. One of the worst habits I used to have was checking my social media accounts, returning calls or emails shortly after getting home. My new rule is no distractions for at least the first 30-45 minutes after I get home. At first it was easier said than done due to habit but with a little planning it’s pretty easy.

Play WITH Them: As our kids get older we often let them play in the backyard while we sit in a chair watching (and often doing something else). Many of us complain about not having time to workout but still play the role of the spectator. Get involved with the play. Tyler often asks if I did things he does when I was a kid. Take advantage of that curiosity. Teach your kids to play some of the games from when you were little or get their imaginations going with some suggestions. Let them safely “help” you with chores like mowing the lawn, fixing something or putting some furniture together.

Have a Chat: Play is probably the best way to connect with little ones. Conversation is key with older kids but the younger ones want to communicate their thoughts and feelings too. Tyler has gone as far as asking my wife and I at various times if we’d like to sit outside with him and “just chat for awhile.” We talk about everyone’s day at the dinner table each night but he was interested in more. He often asks questions about things he saw or heard or if I like things he likes. If you don’t know your kids’ favorite color, toys, tv shows or music, it might be time for a little chat.

I’m sure we’ll have fun chatting at Dad’s Night. The puppets won’t be bad either.