Things been rather quiet on the blog lately. Like the rest of the nation, I was busy trying to catch up on the rallies, commentaries, videos and articles every evening after work during the past 9 days of campaigning. On some nights, I was so caught up that I told Sophie to play or read on her own, which she didn’t take well to of course.
Then work got hectic. I was busy preparing for a campaign which had its fair share of challenges, fire fighting and road blocks that by the end of the day, all I could muster was “my brains are fried” to Alexis and something along the lines of pass me some chocolate cake.
Despite the tiredness from work and the lack of sleep, there was still chores to be done and mummy duties to fulfill. Not the most exciting part of my day when all I want to do is zone out which I’m sure fellow working mums can identify with, but hey that’s life right?
Of course, in the most ideal situation, Sophie would be understanding and leave mummy to space out after work while she plays or read on her own. Instead she demanded for my attention and asked for it in the whinest voice.
And somehow you’re so tired, even a whimper sounds like nails scratching on a blackboard, what more her incessant whining. Soon her raised decibels became more irritable and before I knew it voices got raised, tempers were elevated, unkind words were spoken and we saw tears.
“Inside every child is an ‘emotional tank’ waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally, but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty ‘love tank.’” -Gary Chapman
I’ll like to defend myself and say that it’s not my fault that she got me on a bad day but who am I kidding? Sure, I’m exhausted after work but all she wants is just half an hour of my time in the evening but I was glued to the news and mobile phone as I scrolled through the feeds on the elections campaign.
She may not have met my expectations of what I wished. But in the very same breathe, I also failed in her expectations of what a mummy should be doing.
For kids, love is spelled T.I.M.E.
When the kids’ emotional love tank is empty, they will try to get it filled. And that means attempting to get our attention sometimes at the most inconvenient time.
I may like to think that since I can’t have quantity time then I’ll make it up with quality time. But if I’m truly honest with myself, I’ll recognise that even the time I spend with her sometimes doesn’t even make the cut for quality time.
One evening I decided that this must stop. If I were to keep brushing her off, she’ll start to think that she doesn’t matter and gosh how that must break her little heart. I tried this method which I read from Dirt and Booger and asked her for a good 20 minutes to catch up on my news before I was ready to play with her.
So I set on the timer and after 20 minutes when the alarm rang, she appeared in front of me and asked, “Now, are you ready to play with me?” It worked like a charm and I was ready to give her my undivided attention as she invited me to play family time and ended the night with a bed time story before I tucked her into bed.
Some days, I still get shot with a “Mummy put your handphone away” from this little girl but thankfully she’s very very forgiving. But I’m not taking my chances and taking her for granted. I just have to remind myself that it wouldn’t be very long more before she’s too cool for mummy. But for now, she’s not outgrown my lap or arms and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can.
Kids don’t expect to do very fancy things to spend quality time. Most of the time, she’s happy to have me play lego, fix jig saw or indulge in her imaginary games or just reading to her. There are times of course, when I take leave to take her out when the CC is closed and once I even snuck her out of the CC for lunch to surprise her. She was so so thrilled and almost didn’t want t go back.
Just never fall into the trap that kids need more toys and stuff to fill their lives especially when guilt takes over because at the end of the day it’s YOU they want 🙂
What do you do to fill your child’s emotional love tank?
Thank you for this very apt reminder that ‘For kids, love is spelled T.I.M.E.’ I read a short Chinese story for Dana earlier before sending her off to bed and she was so pleased. Feel ashamed that I turned down her request for more stories because it was getting late. Will try to start the bedtime story routine with her again to replenish her love tank nightly!
Yes I’m guilty of not getting her to bed sooner as I’m busy with my own things or want to spend more time with her. Sophie always loves it when she gets undivided attention from us just before bedtime and I hope it gives me sweet dreams too.
As a sahm, I suppose I’m seen to have quantity time with the kids. But I sometimes still struggle with getting my chores done, connecting with my own needs and theirs, and that can really affect the quality time spent. Thanks for the reminder about setting the timer – I read that before but have forgotten. Shall try that again!
It’s been working well for us and in the same way I sometimes set a timer for the amount of time I spend playing with her if I need her to take a shower or go sleep.
I was also very preoccupied with elections last week! Thankfully we have other family members who were not as absorbed, and could help attend to them. Thanks for the tip – I do explain to them when I’m on the phone, exactly what I’m doing (e.g. X is asking me a question and I have to reply / I am checking how to go to this place now / I am reading an article about this issue) and they usually understand and let me complete that before I put the phone away and give them 100% attention.
Very cooperation and sensible of them. I must get Sophie to be more patient too since explaining to her sometimes doesn’t work.
Totally agree that TIME is our kids love language, my girls are also complaining that I’m spending too much time working and not giving her enough we-time. Thanks for this reminder Susan. We all need to learn to give our 100% attention when we are with our kids.
Yes and I think it was another mum that shared that when we are with them, we have to be committed to give them no less than 100% of our attention.
Timely reminder! I am often asked, mummy, can you sleep with me for awhile, can you play with us, can I sit on your lap? The little ways the small ones ask for attention and it goes to show that they are happy just having us by their sides.
So simple and yet we sometimes fail to see it and act upon it. It’s what I need to remember too 🙂
Oh she is a precious darling. Kids are so forgiving and loving… I feel like such a sh*tty* mum too when I get too busy and give excuses not to play or spend time with her 🙁 must remember that they are growing up way too fast and soon, even if I have time for her, she may not want to spend that time with me.
Ai @ Sakura Haruka
I know exactly what you mean but don’t be too hard on yourself. We just got to remember to do better than we did yesterday.
It’s true that kids don’t expect to do very fancy things to spend quality time, sometimes when I ran out of ideas and kids are bored and wanted my full attention, I just cuddle them quietly and let the minutes passed by. Thank you for this eye-opening post.
We all need this reminder from time to time and really savour the time we have with our little ones.
How true … but often we tend to slip the importance of time and what they asking for is only companion. Even staying by their side when they do hw is so comforting. Its a reminder that we always have to keep in mind as many times i tend to miss it.
I know I’m perfectly happy having hubby by my side even though he could be doing his own things and I bet that’s how my girl feel at times too.
Agree wholeheartedly! Especially for FTWMs like myself, I often fall into the trap of telling my kids to go play on their own cos I am too tired. Good reminder, Susan!
I’m often guilty of that especially when I had a long day at the office. Thankfully, she’s good having daddy’s company but I always make sure I spend time with her the next day to make it up.
Agree that kids don’t need fanciful toys and totally need our company and love! My kids get to enjoy 1-on-1 time with me due to our daily schedule and I think they love it as much as I do too. <3
Shirley @ SAys! Happy Mums
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