I am very adept at creating craft projects, or baking cakes with the kids, or doing other things that involve time and money and organisational skills. However, I have accepted that I will have none of these things when the baby makes an appearance, so it was timely that an email popped up the other day with a link to Simple Ways to Make Your Child Feel Special by Rachel Sarah.
It is five pages long, so I am going to paraphrase a bit, but I think it has some really superb ways of making your kids feel special. And I don't see why most of them wouldn't work on some of the adults in your life.
Create Little Morning Moments: she suggests taking a few minutes each day to share a ritual before everyone heads off to work and school. In our house I am going to make more of an effort to enjoy the times when the four (soon to be five) of us are all having breakfast together, to bask in their pyjama-ness, their bed hair, their rice bubble smiles. And not get so uptight about the milk on the floor. Or yell at them to get dressed. Or freak out over the carseats.
Snuggle and Cuddle: she highlights the importance of physical contact, but reminds us it is more than just hugs and kisses. Tickling your children, allowing them to tickle you, rub their heads while you are doing the zillionth ponytail. One of my greatest pleasures is when one of the girls reach up to hold my hand when we are walking, even just around the house. Maybe especially when we are in the house.
Make up Special Stories: she suggests telling stories and putting your kids in a starring role. I remember my dad doing this for years and years. We loved it. Every year for Father's Day I have made a photo books highlighting the relationship between the girls and their daddy. I love singing Miss Polly Had a Dolly and changing the lyrics so the song is about The Curly Mop. She loves it almost as most as I do.
Ask For Help: Rachel says asking your children to help with everyday tasks around the house makes them feel special. I imagine this reaction stops at some point in the early teens as I sure don't feel special when I am asked to help tidy a massive pile of Barbie dolls and textas from under the couch. But while your children are little, asking them to hand you pegs when you do the washing, or carrying bags of shopping in from the car can make them feel special and helpful (just don't ask them to carry in glass jars unless you are really, really confident in both their strength and attention span).
Break the Rules: I really like this one. She suggests that when things are going pear-shaped and everyone is screaming like a nutter, rather than send everyone to bed and open a bottle of wine, hop in the car and buy icecream instead. Or have a night where there is chocolate cake for tea. Or let them skip school for the day. Oh it feels so good to be naughty...
Have Fun at Bedtime: rather than looking at bedtime as the EXIT sign for a long day herding kids, treat it as a last chance to focus on the child, start a routine, focus 100% on them. This one is probably a little harder than most, especially if you have let them have icecream and cake for dinner and they are as mad as loons and hanging off the light fittings.
Get Silly: Rachel says 'make them feel like you're in the world with them, instead of up in your adult world'. And it's so true, I have had such a strong reaction from the girls when instead of yelling at them to calm down or stop being crazy, I join in. Crank up the radio and start dancing. Try on some of their dress-ups. Make up silly songs. Eat dinner as a picnic on the floor. If you can't beat them, join them. It's better for your complexion than yelling all the time.
Use Your Words: focus on them, let them overhear you praising them to their Grandma or daddy. I bought a cheap laminator from the grocery shop and use it to laminate special pictures and then stick them on our doors. Don't buy them stuff, tell them stuff.
Pay Attention to the Little Things: Rachel says small things like giving your children nicknames, putting notes in their lunchboxes, celebrating half-birthdays and volunteering at Kindy will make them feel special. They do, absolutely. I am going to start a 'sisters' day in the second half of the year, a world away from all the early birthdays, where we share a cake and the girls will make cards for each other and let them focus on each other for a change. Not sure what I will call it if Baby Number Three is a boy though. Sibling Day sounds kinda lame.
Making your children feel special is as simple as drinking the tea they make you, both literally and metaphorically.