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Investing Wisely

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The best investment we can make in our children – the one that will pay off in a substantial and meaningful way – is us. Our presence, time, love and our undivided attention all show them just how much we love to be with them and fuels their souls. Yes, quality time is essential, but there also must be enough of it –quantity matters to some extent too. It matters from day 1. We connect and cultivate a bond with our baby when we hold her, gaze into his eyes and smile, and talk to her.  

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As our baby grows, playtime, mealtime, bath time and getting ready for sleep all offer opportunities to enjoy quality time.  These are precious moments that strengthen the bonds of love and trust between our baby and us.  To fully pay out, this investment is best made primarily by us. Of course we all need a break, and not just when we’re brand new parents. This is where those who are lucky to live near family – Baby’s grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. – have a slight (maybe more than slight) advantage. When you have no family less than a plane ride away, finding a way to catch that break can be trickier. When Mia and Ben were babies we lived in Atlanta and the rest of our family lived in the Chicago area. Thankfully there was a highly respected organization (Friends of the Family) that screened babysitters, mother’s helpers, nannies, etc. We were able to find a beautiful soul named Agatha who helped out several hours a week and suffice it to say that she was a Godsend.

Whether we are moms who work outside the home or stay-at-home moms, it’s important that we parents establish our devotion consistently. You might be familiar with Dr. Sears and his theory of Attachment Parenting, or other similar more modern versions. This philosophy was what resonated with us – the notion of letting our babies be our guide for what they needed, responding to them whenever they cried and holding them as much as possible. His idea that a need that is met goes away but a need that is not met sits inside of us and can later manifest as other problems (such as insecurities or fears). 

Our investing doesn’t stop when our babies or toddlers reach a certain age. It’s a lifelong effort that pays the very best dividends! What our investment looks like changes with each age and stage. What matters most is that we remain deeply present, connected and genuinely involved. Truly listen when having conversations. Be mindful of our own words and actions because they are observing us and learning and forming values, both consciously and subconsciously. As they grow into the school age years and beyond we have to adapt how we do all this, tune in to what our children need. Little things are just as important as big things, maybe more so. Building Legos or playing Polly Pockets, chatting over after-school snacks or those sleepy conversations at bedtime that once in a while morph into deep discussions. Even running errands can be quality time together. Really! To this day basic things like a grocery run or picking up a gift for a friend can be a fun outing, giving us time to talk, catch up, sing in the car and laugh about silly stuff. 

To be fair, I should add a disclaimer here. I am blessed with two exceptional human beings as my children. While they are very different in many ways, they are both loving, compassionate, thoughtful, independent minded and of strong moral compass. They value family and friends (both have chosen truly high quality friends, and value the caliber of friend over the number of friends). I am also grateful to have strong, treasured relationships with each of them. The other day my friend Kim asked me if I knew what I did to have kids who have turned out so great.  I’ll share what I told her – it is as much about who they were when they came into this life, their souls, as it is about what David and I did or didn’t do as parents. Yes, we were very devoted, involved and loving parents from the start. I was fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home mom and this elevated the involved, devoted part. And of course we made our share of mistakes. Just ask Mia or Ben if I yelled, got impatient with them or ever overreacted — like when someone spilled blue PowerAde everywhere right when we needed to head out the door to preschool. But there’s more to it than this.

Intangibles — like how we talk to our children, how we listen to them, the values we live by, how we treat others – all instill faith, self confidence and desire to do the right thing. These intangible investments shape them, forging them from the very core of their beings. It all starts with love, but not just the “you’re so adorable” or “you’re my child so of course I love you” kind of love. It’s the kind of love that you feel in your soul, that fills you completely and connects you to your child’s soul in such a powerful way you sometimes feel like the two of you are one. And this holds true no matter how many children you have. When we invest in them we help them to become better, happier humans, and when we invest really well we pave the way for the highest return of all – for our future relationships with them to be strong, fulfilling and everlasting. 

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