How much time did you spend listening yesterday?

One of my biggest worries in life is that there is never enough time in the day to be the parent I want to be. I have four children, so I’m already on a back foot for undivided time. But our family days are increasingly crammed with ‘stuff’, and before I know it the day has dribbled away and we have yet to play monopoly/build a cornflake box base for the soldiers/baked brownies.
The only thing we do find time for without fail is watching films. All of us piled in a comfy heap on the floor and the sofa, curtains drawn, equipped with cushions and rugs and the odd morsel of popcorn, it’s something we all love to do.
But I want to do more of the other stuff too. We DO do baking, we DO play games, we do lots of fun stuff together. But I rarely get time to just ‘be’ with one of my children. One-to-one activities where they get my sole attention – and I get theirs.
I was one of four too, and I clearly remember the times alone in the kitchen with my Mum as some of the special ones – having her just to myself was a treat not to be wasted.
This article in the Guardian yesterday caught my eye – this paragraph in particular

“The process of listening to someone and responding in speech is the most ordinary everyday task – and the most demanding of social skills. How we read facial expressions, body language and speech to interpret what has been said, and how that expresses relationships, is an immensely complex process. Listening is a huge, much underrated skill, requiring personal preoccupations to be set aside, if only momentarily, in order to be attentive to another.”

Now my boys are older, I already have to fight for their undivided attention (nothing gets Mummy crosser than keeping one eye on the TV/Lego Indiana Wii game whilst she’s talking) – but equally, how often do they get mine?

We’re good as a family at getting out and doing outdoors stuff, but when we’re home, how often we get bogged down in the mire of emails/laundry/adult coffee breaks/bejeweled blitz (curses) and they’re left to their own devices. Now I am happy this is often no bad thing, as they’re very good at using their imagination to create their own games, and it’s good they know how to occupy themselves. but there is a middle ground, and we just don’t meet it often enough at home.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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  1. Fellow mum-of-four here… yeah I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with each one individually, that building of memories and understanding that your mother *really cares* about what’s going on with you stuff, thanks for the prod.

    The article, though, annoyed me in its blanket presumption that the changes we’re seeing are down to the outside influences rather than the accumulation of a couple of centuries of ‘seen and not heard’ style parenting.

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  2. Meal times. That’s my quality listening time. That’s when I sit across the table from them and discover so much about their worlds. No matter that what they are waffling on about is very difficult to absorb (the intricacies of the new level on Mario or why Lego may have put extra bits in the box etc…). I do my very best to follow what’s being said.

    Those meal times are also where I discover what’s been happening at school. Ask my eldest directly “How was school today? Anything interesting happen?” and you’ll more than often get nothing. Sit across from him at the kitchen table with plates of warm, scrummy food between us and he’ll blather on about it.

    It’s difficult, this parenting lark…

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  3. Yes, that’s a good point Tracy – we are daily more engaged on a simple level than parents have been for a long time. I think we’re the first generation to really examine and question and discuss our parenting styles and methods – the parenting book boom is a testimony to that.
    But there is a definite difference since the 70’s, and technology has an undoubted part to play in that.
    The overwhelming message i took form it was the stop-and-listen prod though. I’m so often juggling three things at once (whilst doing laundry with my feet) that I rarely stop and give my complete attention.
    Particularly when it’s the latest Lego Indy level which is being described. Step by lovely step.
    And that’s something I know isn’t fair – they deserve more of me than half an ear and an absent ‘that’s lovely darling’. I could probably glance their way as well…

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  4. Ah now if it’s Lego Indy then I’m all ears, lol

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