The more I read about bringing up children the more important I think it is to maintain a connection with them. In fact I made it one of my New Year’s Resolutions. I am trying to be more conscious about where my focus is – to either be actively doing something with them, or be doing something else not with them. So, not to just sit there next to them, ignoring them while I check Facebook etc.

My aim is to consciously spend time with each of them every day, and most days I manage that. Though some days are a struggle round school, swimming lessons and everything else, especially for rocket boy. And when I manage it they do seem to benefit from it. They are much happier and we have less problems with getting them to do things. Though it isn’t a one time fix, as it needs to be continuously repeated – the more time I am with them, the more times I need to be engaged with them. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean doing the same thing as them. I can be sitting with them, but doing something else while joining in the conversation. There’s only so much time I can spend doing Hama beads!

Overall, I want the majority of my interactions with them every day to be mostly positive. It can too easily fall into the trap where all I’m doing is telling them what to do (or telling them off). And that’s no fun for any of us. So I engage with what they’re doing, join in, listen to them. As well as give them parameters within which they can explore. It’s not a one-time done action – it needs to be sustained. You can’t just say that box is ticked and ignore them for the rest of the time. They need engagement. And if they don’t get positive reactions from you they act out for what reaction they can get.

On the flip side I am also exploring what I can do when I’m not engaged with them. Cooking, washing and cleaning are tasks that of course never end. And they are generally happy to get on with whatever they’re doing (or join in) while I do those. Equally jobs that require me to be standing and moving around they’re normally ok with. Sitting at a computer, or doing something on my phone they aren’t, and they will interrupt me and stop me from doing whatever it is I’m trying to do. So I am learning the parameters of their independence and adjusting what I try and do while they’re engaged with other things.

After lunch has become my prime time for doing other things. As then they’re full and happy, after being sat down eating for a while, to run off and do what they want. At the weekends this gives my husband and I a chance to drink a cup of tea and talk to each other. And during the week I can sort things out and tidy up.

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