By: Jennifer Jolly, ParentFurther Editor
Oftentimes we’re moving so quickly that we miss out on the little (big) moments, lessons, and miracles that happen through our children. Let this list to inspire you to S.L.O.W. D.O.W.N. and savor the little things that make parenting so grand.
1. Get up extra-early (your kid is probably already awake anyway!) and watch the sunrise together. If you have an older child, turn it into a teaching moment and talk about why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Little Lesson: You’re learning, together, to notice and appreciate the wonders of the world around us.
2. Let them help you prepare a meal. Young kids can set the table; older kids can help measure ingredients for pancakes or stir the soup. Little Lesson: You’re helping them understand that they have an important contribution to make.
3. Ask them what they would like to do today that would cost little or no money. Then, do it! Chances are, a trip to the park or local zoo will light up your child’s eyes and spark curiosity just as well as a trip to Disneyland. Little Lesson: Enjoyment doesn’t cost a thing.
4. Tell a joke and listen—really listen—to your child’s laughter. No explanation needed.
5. Ask your child to tell you a joke and listen to your heart smile. Don’t really need to explain this one either ;)
6. Let your environment spark your creativity. Lie outside on a blanket and point out shapes in the clouds. Point out the different types of trees in your yard or neighborhood; name your favorites. Little Lesson: I would bet good money on this one; your kid is going to see things in those clouds you will never see. Let him teach you a thing or two about imagination.
7. Start a collection or turn a collection into something wonderful. Collect rocks, sticks, leaves, flowers, buttons, shiny things, or whatever else your child likes to collect and turn it into something wonderful. Build a miniature log home out of rocks and sticks; fashion a fancy button jar for your child’s button collection, or dry, press, and frame, and display those flowers. Little Lesson: Supporting your child’s interests (or sparks) doesn’t cost a thing, and it is scientifically proven to help your child grow up happier and healthier.
8. Write each other Hope Letters. Write your child a letter about everything you hope for her to accomplish or experience by her 18th birthday. Then, fold it up, seal it in an envelope, and read it to her on that day. In turn, have your child write you a letter about what she hopes to accomplish by that age. Keep that letter. Read it often. Read it when you’ve had one of those days where you ask yourself, What am I doing? Why did I ever become a parent? Seriously. We all have those days. We all need those little reminders.
9. Give back, together. Volunteer for a fundraiser together—a car wash to benefit your child’s club or activity, a family 5k to benefit a special cause—or ask your child to put together a donation box of old toys and clothes and then take it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army together. Little Lesson: You’re teaching your child empathy, the importance of community, and that he’s an important part of the community.
10. Tell your child you love him often, but show him you love him through your actions every day. Little Lesson: It’s easy to say, “I love you”, but the little, everyday things you model (like patience, kindness, courage, and persistence)are really what make a difference in the long run.Tell Us: —>What little things do you enjoy the most about your kids?