Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Fishful Thinking Photo Story: "In the Tent"

When I was a kid, my brother and I loved to make tents in the middle of the living room. We'd pull the four barstools from the kitchen, flip over our two "bionic chairs" (aka banana chairs) and place them across the top of the stools to create a dome effect, and then drape sheets over everything.

We'd play board games, draw pictures, sneak in snacks, and tell spooky stories - good times.

These days, my kids are the ones completely taking over the living room (with a little help) -

and sometimes, if the tent is BIG enough, I'll even crawl in there with them.

Being "in the tent" with your child while cuddling with a book/playing with action figures/doing a puzzle, and focusing that time just on him/her was one of the Time and Presence activities that Dr. Karen Reivich talked about during the Fishful Thinking webinar last week - interestingly enough!  (If you missed it - or some of it - click here to download and listen.)

"Most parents find it challenging to create space for simple experiences of togetherness. Real-world distractions, internal chatter, “to do” lists – undercut our ability to be with our children without an internal (and perhaps external) sense of fidgeting." 

You can say that again.

Even though, this past year, I have been fortunate to have extra time with my kids by trying out homeschooling, I still have those moments where I am thinking about other things - needing to answer an email, make a phone call, reply to a text (& I am the world's slowest texter), put in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen, take a SHOWER...the list goes on.

But in those moments when I intentionally put those things out of my mind and fully engage with my kids - whether it's an activity we've planned ahead of time or an everyday routine, it becomes a different experience. I feel a truer sense of joy and togetherness. And I'm sure they feel it too.

As Dr. Reivich spoke about - "Connectedness" is a key factor in promoting resilience in children. Our kids need to feel that we are present and in the moment with them. Of course, we have to set realistic expectations so we are not plagued with "mom guilt"(which we all know and love) because we can't "connect" ALL the time - as I have to remind myself. Still, there are many everyday moments (car ride, trip to the store, dinnertime) that can be taken advantage of to talk, laugh, and enjoy one another.

As always, I got so much out of the information presented during the webinar and the discussion between Dr. Reivich and my Fishful Thinking pals.  It really reaffirmed my answer to this question that was posed in preparation for the event -

How do you think about the time you share with your children? What do you value about time? What are your goals in relationship to your time together?

I feel like each day I have with my kids is a gift. They are the greatest blessings in my life. Because time passes so quickly, it's important to me to make the most of it whether it's baking cookies, reading stories, playing outside, etc... Just enjoying simple, every day things together as well as creating fun family memories and traditions. Spending quality time together strengthens our bond as a family and creates a support system by building trust and faith in one another. I also always want my kids to know that they are most important to me and that I will always have time for them no matter how old they are. And hopefully, they will continue to want to spend time with me - even during those teenage years.

A mom can dream, right?

Linked up with my Fishful Thinking friends this week. 
Cecily's take on moments that count is truly special - a must read!

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli


Cecily R said...

Fantastic post about the webinar (I probably should have been more thorough in mine) and I love the tent shot. Making a tent was one of the first things my kids were taught by their dad as toddlers. :)

amanda said...

oh how i love a good living room tent :)

and hoping they still want to hang out with me when they are teenagers? one of my biggest wishes!

happy weekend friend!

Peggy said...

I always loved the creative tents put together with clothes pins, duct tape and random furniture. This post makes me want to cry, the time is so short. My favorite time to talk and bond with the kids was in the car, driving them to their many activities and friends house. Now that they drive, I miss that time. Adult kids are so great but finding the time to talk and connect takes an extra effort around busy schedules. Thanks for the memories, Kelli. You are an amazing mom, sister, and daughter! I love this blog post.

Jenny Ramsey said...

my kids LOVE making tents ANYWHERE. on the weekends the boys and suzy will make a tent in the boy's room and they will watch movies nad have a "sleepover". it's their special friday and saturday night treat.

Jenny Ramsey said...

now this is my answering the question post for the giveaway :)
i guess the thing i treasure about my time with my kids is just what it is...the time with my kids! i know that in a very short time (i mean, VERY short) they will be building tents in the woods with the scouts or at girl's camp instead of in their bedroom.

Chris said...

This was beautiful, and boy did it briing back memories - my brother and I and our friends spent countless hours building and manning forts, of one type or another.

My kids do the same today, and like you, I try to spend time with them in their play. Not only is it a genuine joy for me, but I find that as my oldest children are now transitioning to adolescence, we have a more open relationship, and it already pays dividends.

scrappysue said...

as much as the kids made a huge mess making their tent 'cities' - i do kinda miss it now that they're past that age!

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