When you have children, you will realize that there is nothing quite so precious in the entire world as those lives you have created. However, you only have a very short space of time to spend with them. You will soon be checking out private schools or state schools, and they will be out finding their own friends, growing up and living their own lives, and as they grow older, they will need you less and less for everyday things. Therefore, it is essential that you make the most of the time you do have together as much as possible, and to do that you need to be entirely present with your children. Here are some ways to ensure you can do it whenever you can.

No Technology

You can’t be completely present with your children if you’re constantly checking your smartphone for social media updates or looking at your emails, or even answering text messages. If you are going to be spending time with your children, you need to leave your technology alone. If you are worried about switching it off entirely, then at least leave it in another room. Children don’t need a great deal when you think about it, but they do need to have your total attention. The great thing is that once you start truly engaging with your kids, you will forget about your mobile devices and online life, at least for a little while.

Get Healthy

If you are unwell, you can’t be there for your children in the way you would like. Sometimes sickness strikes, and there is nothing that you can do about it, but sometimes it is our lifestyles and unhealthy habits that can make us ill. When this is the case, it is entirely in your power to turn things around, get more healthy, and be there for your children both physically and mentally. It can be hard to get started, especially when habits are very ingrained, but if you start slowly, it will be much easier.  If you eat a lot of junk food, try cutting down gradually. If you don’t exercise, try walking instead of driving. It all adds up to a healthier you and your children will thank you for it.

Make The Time

Everyone is busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make time for your children. They do need to be your priority, so if they ask you to play with them and you were planning to vacuum or empty the dishwasher, pick your children over the chore. The chore can wait, and it certainly won’t be negatively affected by your inattention! Children, however, can develop emotional issues if their parents are never able to play with them or be there with them, so it is essential to do so. Just 10 minutes here and there is a great start, and it’s enough to play a game of hide-and-seek or snap, or tag.

Listen When They Speak

Children love to talk and tell stories, and they really want their parents to listen to them when they do so, but busy parents can often be guilty of trying to rush the story to the end, or only half listening to what their children are saying because they’re doing something else at the same time. This is a practice that you should stop as soon as you can; you need to focus your attention entirely on the child and what they are saying, as it will make a big difference and will even strengthen the bond between you both.

Look At Them

Just as important as listening to your children is looking at them. It can be so easy not to look up from what you are doing when your child wants to ask you something or needs you to look at something. However, looking can be a great way to engage with them truly. Their voice will give you an idea of how they are feeling, but it isn’t until really looking into their eyes that you will understand precisely what it is they want to say, and it can make all the difference to how you respond and how they react. Looking at your child reassures them that they are important and that you care. If you are too busy to give them your full attention, you need to ask them politely to wait if they can and tell you in a little bit so that you can genuinely engage with them.

Do Simple Things

You can’t realistically take your kids out every day for exciting trips or expensive theme parks. It’s too tiring and costs too much money, plus if you go out every day, it becomes a lot less exciting and can even become something that no one enjoys. Therefore, although occasional days out like this are a good idea, and can be ideal ways to make lovely memories and bond with your children, it’s important to do simple things together as well. A quick trip to the local grocery store can be a good time if you have your children help out and work out what dishes you’re going to make before you go, for example. Households chores can be done together, and this makes them quicker but also teaches the children how to keep a house clean and tidy, and how to be more independent.

Sleep Better

For optimum health, an adult should be sleeping between seven to eight hours a night – some will need more and some less, and it will depend on the person in question. For parents, this can be quite a hard thing to do because when their children go to bed, they will want to stay up later to get some ‘me time,’ plus they will also tend to get up early before the children so that they can make a good start on the day ahead. It means getting fewer hours of sleep than they really should, and this is fine for a short while, but if it becomes the norm, you can become rather unwell. Lack of sleep means that the body can’t repair itself. Even if it means not getting much time to yourself, it is best to get enough sleep. You will be able to engage better with your children (and everyone else), and you’ll feel better for it.