Now that the holidays are over and we are all back into our routines, things are getting back to normal.  However depending on where you are in the world, you may be in the middle of winter.  When it is winter and you have young children it is more than just a lack of light, it is also a lack of activity that causes our family to slow down.  We do try to get outside as much as possible, even with its logistical challenges.  We also still try to get to the pool and get that exercise on a weekly basis.  Even all these activities don’t keep us occupied all the time.

One of the things I have been thinking about a lot over the last few months is presence.  I think about how to be more present when I am with my children or just to be more present at whatever it is I am doing at the moment. Maybe with all the holiday talk about “presents” I am thinking even more about it.

I have discovered that my son, who is now almost five, is really starting to be able to play games.  He is starting to play games that are more interesting than Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land.  Also, his play has become more focused and interactive.  He is taking turns, losing and following the rules.

I have learned a couple of things about being present with my children as we play games.  One is that because of the game, we are both focused on the same thing at the same time.  We are interacting and having a conversation about something meaningful and something that has nothing to do with each other personally.  We are building our relationship in a new way.

One other thing I have learned from playing games with my son is about purposeful activity.  In the Montessori Method we help children to help themselves by redirecting them to purposeful activities.  Most of the time this means an activity that will help with reading or math directly.  Sometimes it means helping the community out in some way by cleaning up a spill, washing the snack dishes or folding laundry.  This works well in the classroom environment where the children have so many choices of purposeful activity.  Redirecting to purposeful activity works well at home as well.  But, as a parent I see part of my work is learning how to have fun with my kids.  So, for me, sitting down to play a board game with my son is as much about having fun as it is about the purposeful activity of building relationship.

What is helps you to build relationship with your kids? What helps you to stay more present?