Remembering the Joy of Being a Parent


Amid the endless shoulds, coulds and “all-you-have-to-do-is” parenting advice, one simple tip felt more like nourishment than judgment.

I am often caught on the parenting hamster wheel, going from task to task around the house… with some of those tasks being playing with my children. “I’ll give them 15 minutes, then I’ll go clean toilets for 15 minutes, then I’ll unload the dishwasher…” I find myself half-listening, half-looking, and wholly unpresent.

When they become an item on my to-do list or when the day begins as something to be endured, I realize we are off course.


There will be days like this, for sure. But I’m trying to interrupt that daily cycle with a pause. A presence. A sustenance instead of a drain.

Parenting expert Janet Lansbury delivered this simple, but meaningful idea of sitting back and watching your child play. Creating a wholly present moment where you sort of soak in their presence.

Paying attention to the sound of their breathing or the way their tongue peeks out when they concentrate, or what makes their eyes dance as they play. Looking at their skin, the curve of their cheeks, or the smallness of their hardworking fingers. Truly listening to their sweet voices and ideas with undivided attention.

Lansbury says children benefit from this in so many ways, including the empowerment and affirmation that they are interesting, competent and enough.

Then she says, “It’s also the secret to one of the joys of being a parent.”

Was this a staggering revelation? No. Was it exactly the reminder I needed? Absolutely.

Oh, how I don’t want to move so fast that I miss the joy that led me to parenthood. How I hold out my hand on a walk, and my son instinctively grasps my fingers. How they are ecstatic to tell me about the same chipmunk that just ran past the patio pond. How they randomly tell me they’re so glad I’m their mom.

I don’t want to just survive every day. When I’m in a funk, I’m skilled at picking out and sensing all that is going wrong, how I’m annoyed, how I’m exhausted. And those things are all ok to feel because they are, well, true.

But also true is the benefit for both us and our kids in just being present.

I’ll be the first to admit how hard that is. How can I turn off the to-do list ticker constantly scrolling through my head and sitting like a weight on my shoulders? And yet, it is worth a try. We get to soak up all of who they are in those moments. They get to feel seen, loved and valued.

Tell them you just want to watch them play for a while. If your kids are like mine, this independent play doesn’t always work but take any chance you can get. It is worth every second, every glimpse into who they are and the joy they bring to you.


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