At one season in my life, I had 4 children under the age of 10. As you can imagine, it was tricky to provide undivided attention to each of them in the amounts they might desire. I was concerned because of the frequency of the situations that arose where one of the older kids had something they urgently wanted to tell me or ask me but I wasn’t able to listen at that particular moment. Of course, this bothered me because I wanted to be sure to keep the lines of communication open and not have my kids feel like what they wanted to share was unimportant, even as a busy parent.
As a busy parent, I was inspired to try a new idea.
Purchase a simple journal and present it to your child as a gift, with the idea that it is a place for ongoing sharing. A place to give a little love, get a little love, or share what's on our hearts.
Essentially, your child is free to write in it at any time (mine usually wrote at bedtime). Whenever you are out of the house, or not available for a conversation and they have a concern or idea they want to share, this is the place! They can include anything they want to share with you and write as much or as little as they wish, as often or as rarely as they wish.
Then, they leave the journal on your pillow when they make an entry. I would read them just before bed and then, after writing an appropriate response, I place them on their bedside tables where they will see them in the morning.
This little system provided an opportunity to be involved in one another’s lives in a variety of ways, most of which are very light-hearted and fun. In particular, I found that it was a great place for kids to ask difficult questions, to share a hurt or an apology, or generally to communicate things that are hard to say out loud. It was amazing what they would write but not say and, as their mama, I wanted to know what was occupying their little hearts and minds. Sometimes the kids would even enhance the comment or letter with drawings or doodles.
Inside the front cover, I wrote a list of possible items to include in the journal to make it clear how broad its applications could be and here it is:
Any other thing you want to share with your mama!
It was used regularly (practically every day!) for a season, and it really helped make us all feel that much more connected. I encouraged them to write things in there particularly when there are times that I cannot give them my full attention but they are concerned about forgetting something important. I try to do the same for them. It became a wonderful part of my nightly routine to read their thoughts and to respond to them.
Certainly not rocket science, but it has been rewarding to share a little love in this simple way and I’m hoping it might help some other busy parents out there do the same.
Plus, (insert shameless English teacher plug here) it is an excellent way to promote and develop literacy skills!
I've seen this work for as young as age 5, and even up into the teen years. Keep expectations low, simply put the offer for connection out there. You never know what might happen in this attempt to share a little love.
Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it with your child(ren). I’d love feedback and ideas about how to modify it for different ages, stages and/or purposes!
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