Nobody knows what Mother's Day will look like in 2021 but what are your plans? Something fun that brings the family together and gets everyone smiling and enjoying each other’s company? Where you enjoy a momentary glow of happy mum-ness? Well, how about you do that every day?
‘As a mum, you’re on top of all the logistics of what has to be done, when, from breakfast to bedtime, getting all the chores done’, says parenting coach Lorraine Thomas. ‘But actually, the fun gets left to chance. So put it at the top of your family agenda!’ By making moments of fun an essential part of your day, just as you do naps and nappy changes, you’ll make sure they happen – and that can make an enormous difference to your family life. ‘I’ve worked with lots of mums who simply decided they were going to have five minutes of fun with their tots in the morning before nursery, or in the evening before bed,’ says Lorraine. ‘And they all said that it really changed the way they felt about themselves as mums – it’s fun for you as well as the youngsters!’
It can also help you to feel that you’re doing a great job as a mum. According to research by The Parent Coaching Academy, eight out of 10 mums said they often feel guilty and stressed. And whether you’re a working mum or stay-at-home mum, it can often feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. But by prioritising these little bursts of mummy-and-me time, you intensify the moments you have with your tot. So, no matter how busy you are, you make the time you have really count, bringing instant joy and building a lasting bond.
‘You don’t need a lot of time,’ says Lorraine. ‘Whatever length of time you have – whether that’s two minutes or half an hour to spare – say to yourself, “I’m going to have fun with my child.” And just do that. Step into his world, and leave yours behind.’ Mother’s Day is the perfect day to start – and you’ll have such a good time, you won’t want to stop!
Quality not quantity
It would be lovely to have amazing mummy moments throughout the day, but let’s get realistic here. When you’re juggling looking after your little one with a pile of laundry or work phone calls, you do have to compromise. But, rather than beat yourself up about the time you can’t give your tot your full, undivided attention, make the most of the little moments when you can. ‘You can’t be 100 per cent “mum” all the time, but you can be for some of the time. And it’s those little bits of time that are so important when you can really connect with your child.’
And if you think you haven’t got enough time to squeeze anything else into your day, think again. ‘Mums can make anything happen,’ says Lorraine, ‘Just look at what you achieve on a daily basis already! A good way to make this happen is to try taking the world “only” out of your vocabulary. So, rather than saying, “We’ve only got five minutes,”, say “We’ve got five minutes.” You’ll think like your little one: “Five minutes? That’s loads of time to have some fun!”’ Use an egg-timer to help you put these little bursts of one-on-one time into your day, and you’ll soon see how much fun you can have in a few concentrated minutes.
To be able to be fully in the moment with your little one, and intensify these bursts of one-to-one time, you need to be ready to give your all. Now that’s pretty difficult when you’ve just arrived home from work, or you’ve been running around after your tot all day. ‘And taking a moment of time to yourself – a mummy time-out – before you start will get you in the right mindset,’ says Lorraine. ‘Literally, take a minute to yourself and reset. I worked with one mum who had a very stressful job and, every evening when she got home and her little one would run to see her, all she could think about was how much tidying up there was to do. So, she decided to park her car around the corner, to give herself a minute of breathing space to activate her energy. After that short ‘mummy time-out’, when she got home to see her youngster running towards her, she was able to focus entirely on him. Her toddler would stand on her feet and they’d walk along together, and she told me that in that moment, she was being the mum she wanted to be.’
So look at your routine – it’s likely to be as scheduled as your youngster’s! – and see where you could put some regular ‘mummy time-outs’ into your diary. ‘When could you set aside a minute to yourself?’ asks Lorraine. ‘You find time to go to the dentist and take the car for its MOT, but those appointments with yourself are just as important.’
Surround yourself with happy memories with your little one, and it will motivate you to create lots of new ones! ‘Make a “happy wall” in your home, and stick up things that make you feel happy,’ suggests Lorraine. ‘These might be photos of you and your youngster, or mementoes from days out and family holidays.’ And put up plenty of smiley photos from your five-minutes-of-fun moments at home, as well as those planned family outings. ‘Anything that reminds you of time you spent together with your little one and as a family can go up,’ says Lorraine. ‘Seeing the results of scheduling fun on your family agenda will motivate you to do more. And, on those days when life is overwhelming, seeing how much fun it is to be in your family can help you to feel energised. Chat to your child, too, about the things on your “happy wall”, and ask, “Do you remember when we did this?” This extends the fun, and puts you in the moment with your tot as you’ll both experiencing strong emotional memories.’
Once you’ve got into the habit of actively putting fun into your day, it’s time to intensify those moments by ‘love bombing’ your little one. ‘When you “love bomb” your child, you surround him with love, inside and out,’ says Lorraine. ‘And the key to this is being really in the moment with your tot and connecting with him. Focus on the connection: breathe in the scent of your youngster, really look at what he is doing, and really listen to what he’s saying.’
Think about how you feel, too. ‘If you smile at your youngster, how does that change how you feel?’ asks Lorraine. Another very simple but super-effective way to intensify the moment is to look into your tot’s eyes. ‘We look at our children all the time but when do we really look at them?’ says Lorraine. ‘And while you’re looking, think about what you see – a child who you love.’ This will give an instant connection between you both, and your tot will be delighted as he knows he’s got your complete, undivided attention. ‘Say “I love you so much” to your tot, too, and notice how that makes you feel – saying those words out loud will make you feel really connected to your tot,’ says Lorraine. ‘Check in with all your senses and you’ll be completely in the moment with your child.’ And that’s when you really start to feel the benefits, as you’ll feel like the best mum in the world. Happy Mother’s Day!
Switch your schedule
Making a few tweaks to your routine can help to squeeze more of these fun moments into your day. ‘I worked with one mum who found bathtime was a real chore as her little one was tetchy by the evening. She changed their schedule and moved bathtime to the morning. It became a fun activity that they both really enjoyed.’
10 little love-bombs to drop on Mother’s Day
‘You can turn boring chores into fantastic love bomb moments,’ says Lorraine. ‘When you’re tidying up shoes by the front door, find something to dress up in that turns you both into Cinderella, and try all the shoes on together.’
Sit down together and tell your tot all the things you love about him. he can help you ‘write’ it down in a letter using stickers or crayons. remember to keep the letter for when your little one is all grown up!
‘If you do something that’s unpredictable, your youngster will really giggle at you,’ says Lorraine. ‘So, get down on the carpet and use a washable felt pen to draw funny faces on the soles of his feet, and yours too. Laughter creates more laughter, and fun creates more fun!’
Blue sky thinking
Take a moment to change your perspective and you’ll instantly feel super connected to your little one. ‘Lie on the grass in the garden and look up at the sky, or drape a blanket over the table and sit together underneath,’ suggests Lorraine. ‘By changing your view, you’ll find you instantly focus on being in that exact moment with your youngster.’
There’s nothing better than cuddles with your little one, so why not supercharge the moment by adding the fun factor? Choose a different coloured towel for bathtime, or when you go swimming, and tell your youngster it’s a ‘tickle towel’. And tickle him through the towel while you’re drying him.
Turn an everyday walk to the park into a love bomb moment by jumping into and onto anything and everything, whether that’s a dandelion, a manhole cover or a crack in the pavement. And if you find a puddle? Even better! ‘Whatever activity you do, stop for a second before and tell yourself it’s going to be a love bomb moment,’ says Lorraine. ‘Then consciously surround your youngster with love as you enjoy it together.’
Cuddle up to your little one and rub your heart, and then hers. You’ll both feel totally connected and in love! ‘One mum I worked with tried this,’ says Lorraine, ‘and not only did it make her feel really connected and in the moment with her tot, she’d rub her heart when she was at work to instantly feel closer to her toddler.’
Mix up storytime and hop under the duvet with your tot and a torch your little one will love the excitement of sharing a special story with you in the dark.
You can’t see kisses, but you can see bubble kisses! ‘This is a brilliant love bomb activity,’ says Lorraine. ‘Tell your toddler that you’re blowing a kiss into every bubble you blow, and blow those bubbles of love around the garden. It’s a great visual way for your youngster to see the love you’re blowing all around him.’
Get a box and build a rocket together – and it doesn’t need to be perfect! ‘Think connection, not perfection,’ says Lorraine. So sticking on a bit of tin foil and drawing on a few squiggles is just fine if you enjoyed it together! ‘Just tell yourself, “I’m going to make this a love bomb moment” and it will become one!’ says Lorraine. Then fill it with imaginary love fuel, and blast off together into space.
Lorraine Thomas is a mum-of-two, chief executive of The Parent Coaching Academy and author of The 7-Day Parent Coach and Brilliantly Behaved Toddler.