Parenting can be utterly exhausting. It can make us feel as though every last millimeter of energy is being wrung out of us – particularly when a co-parent is unavailable. As much as every drop of our beings may be begging to go in a different direction, when it comes to a deep connection with our children, sometimes stepping out of that box and doing the things we resist, brings the greatest joy of all.

Most weeks, my husband works away from home. By the time Thursday evening arrives, although there is a little spark of energy that comes from knowing that Friday is only a few hours away, the exhaustion of the week gone by also tends to lie heavily on my shoulders. This past Thursday night was no exception. I had planned to stick to the norm – bath, dinner, story, bedtime and once my munchkins were down, then settle in for a few hours of much needed ‘admin catch-up’. Earlier in the day, Christian had spotted a ‘Wormy Apple’ game in my therapy room and begged to play it together after dinner. Knowing that that particular game takes a little effort to set up and is possibly not the easiest to play with a three and five-year-old, I made promises of ‘If you eat your dinner quickly we can see what we can find – maybe there’s another game we can play’. I had every intention of finding something that would take a little less time and effort to put together, something that would be a little more accommodating of my ‘Thursday night’ state of mind. Christian and Rachel stuck to their end of the deal, and we shared a fuss-free, enjoyable meal together (All this time in my mind I frantically scanned the game choices I had available, still hoping to come up with an option which would be more appealing to them and far less effort for me).

We ventured into my therapy room and I tried enthusiastically to offer alternatives. But they were adamant – the Wormy Apples! I reluctantly agreed, and we headed to the family room, armed with the new addition.
That which I had resisted, that which I had tried desperately to avoid, ended up leading to THE most enjoyable and memorable evening, filled with bonding, giggles, connection and plenty of teachable moments. For them – there were opportunities for reinforcing turn taking, sharing, kindness, patience, and even number concepts! For me the benefit was far greater. I was provided with the perfect opportunity to be reminded that in stepping out of our comfort zone and having fun, even when we feel as though we are sapped of energy, those moments, can bring more laughter, more joy and a deeper connection to our children than we could ever imagine.

Three rounds of sheer delight (for all of us) later and we ended up cuddling on the floor, with ‘family hugs’ (a little family tradition my son started at around 2 years old), broken telephone whispers of ‘I love you’, nose kisses and more giggles. Two very happy and contented kids were tucked into bed, two kids who felt genuinely rooted in a sense of family, two kids who felt loved unconditionally, two kids who felt heard and understood, two kids who had relaxed and had indescribable fun. One adult felt all that too. A mother who had been reminded of the value of small precious moments. Moments that we may not even realise will create such joy if we fail to venture into them.

Perhaps your child has been asking to see a pathetic teen movie with you, requests your presence in an icy swimming pool or wants you to join in on the weekend cricket game. Perhaps they want you to explore the garden on a rainy day, have a teddy bears picnic, play a game of Risk, or go mountain biking. Sometimes it’s the things we least feel like doing that have the potential to bring the most joy, the potential to create a deeper level of understanding and the potential to bond us more closely than we could ever have imagined. These are often the unexpected moments, the events we may initially want to avoid, the ones we don’t plan for. There is a magical beauty in the joy that comes from these. These moments find us, we can’t plan them, and although due to factors like exhaustion and scheduling, our first response may be to turn them down – embrace them, jump in with both feet (and every wriggling part of your being) and just have fun. These are the moments that connect our souls to our children the most deeply. These are the moments that create memories that will last a lifetime.


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