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Hammock Time

Spending just a few minutes chatting with your child each day can make a big difference in their disposition and in your relationship.

True confessions: At least one of my children knows exactly what button to push to create utter havoc with everyone in the general vicinity. He’s not mean spirited. In fact, he’s often an absolute joy: pleasant, hard working, and helpful. But, like us all, he has his moments.

Unfortunately, his moments often bring out my moments.

I discussed this situation with my sister one morning and with my husband that evening. Since they both had the same answer, I figure it just might be divine intervention.

“Maybe you and he need some time together just hanging out.”

Maybe.

So, the very next day, when he started slamming on that button with all his might, I invited him to “my office.” Not the office in the house, but the hammock in the backyard. It was a beautiful day, sun shining, blue skies, fluffy clouds.

He thought he was busted. I made invited him to sit in the hammock with me. We lay there looking at the sky, talking about random things. Then we talked about the button-pushing. Then we talked about more random things.

And the day went much better.

We’ve spent many a day lounging in the hammock since then. {button pushing, button pushing} But also just because. The critic in me says he’ll just start pushing the button so that he can go lie in the hammock with Mom. The Pollyanna in me says to start every day in hammock time.

While I don’t think it’s a cure for all that ails us, it was a poignant reminder that hanging out together is just fun — and it does help a kid’s disposition to know that they are loved, that their company is desirable, that someone values time spent with them.

May every day have some hammock time.

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Comments

  1. OK, OK, so I get the message! :) I’ve been hearing it from all sides lately, and I got up this morning wondering how to implement it.

    Thanks for making the idea practical and for reminding me of it…because, despite everything, it had not yet made it to my to-do list.

    Blessings to you and your little hammock-sharers.

    Annie Kate

  2. I have a child just like that! I forget sometimes that even as a teenager he still needs special time with the parents.

  3. Stephanie says:

    My “button pusher” is two and we don’t have a hammock. I’m gonna have to get creative…

  4. I know this is what they need and what I need. But with 5 kids (3 of them toddlers) it seems impossible to fit it in, daily…and I forget on the weekend. I’m hoping some one has an idea that will work for us.

    • I use chore time as together time quite often. When the two of us are together in the laundry room with the door shut, conversation seems easier. Sometimes, even the lack of eye contact helps with the conversation because no one feels under as much pressure. I also cook with my kids one at a time. Although others may come and go from the kitchen, we enjoy the togetherness and concentrated attention.
      My husband and I also just instituted a monthly “date night.” We have four kids, so each month each of us takes 1 (so they get their dates every other month, rotating parents) and it is amazing how much talking and connecting can be done in just a couple hours of alone time. These don’t have to be expensive, either. Often our dates are a free trip to a museum or a visit to the library. It’s the time with Mom or Dad that is important.

      • Jessica Fisher says:

        I have different kids help me with kitchen work and that is a good time, too. Just not as fun as watching clouds. :)

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      It doesn’t happen everyday, but I am trying to be more mindful of it.

  5. Hammock time sounds like a wonderful idea. My own kids pushed buttons hardest when they became teens. For us (rural folk), talking in the car, while I was driving, turned out to work wonders. Somehow knowing I couldn’t turn my head and look at their faces let them say what they were thinking and I could count to ten and reply calmly. We were able to make this “one-on-one” time by doing the discussions on the to the dentist, sports practices, or whatever else that involved only one kid at a time. So, if you don’t have a hammock, maybe try taking a drive (or a hike, or whatever keeps you together, but not face-on-face).

  6. As they grow into adults that time becomes even more important. I’ve found that the car and the kitchen are the two best places to have quality time. If I have some errands to run I make my daughter come with me (I usually bribe her with ice cream). The two of us alone, in the car, creates a “cocoon” where it seems like she feels safe to ask questions. We’ve had many discussions about the birds and the bees, peer pressure, her hopes and dreams while driving down the road. My son seems to like being in the kitchen with me. When I’m cooking I’ll invite him in to make the salad, set the table, whatever needs to be done. While we’re working together he opens up and shares what’s going on in his life. Even as 21 he still wants to share with his mom. I love it!

  7. Love this! My younger child is extremely exhausting and sucks every last drop of anything out of me. She gets more than “hammock time.” She gets the whole darn hammock industry. My son on the other hand, tends to get left in the dust and it really bothers me. I do make time with him in the evenings. We read together and I try to let him share his day. The sad part is that some nights I’m so drained it feels rushed and I kick myself for not trying harder. I need to find another idea. This was really good timing. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I was wondering if you had any kids like that…I’ve got one, too. Almost 4. The most joyful kid you’ve ever met. In fact, we say “All joy is Elijah’s joy” because he truly finds joy in everything–even in driving me up the wall. He’s got more energy than the nuclear power plant down the road, and it’s a challenge to keep up with/control/contain (however you want to say it). I love him so much, but have also realized how much more obedient he is when he gets that one-on-one. His response is a bit softer. He’s demanding that time with me, and I’m going to continue to work at it because, like all other moms with a bunch of little ones, it’s hard to find. But, boy do they need it!

  9. I this it is important to carve out alone time with your kids, just as it’s important to have time alone with your spouse to reconnect. Now if only you could comfortably relax in a hammock in January in northern Illinois…

  10. Jennifer B. says:

    I have one of those “button pushers” too!! This kid is the greatest and full of life, he just doesn’t know when to stop sometimes. I have also used this technique and it does work! He feels that the focus is on him in a good way and feels less like “stirring the pot” as I call it!! The hammock won’t work here in Michigan right now…but my lazy boy works just fine!!

  11. I have the same problem…one of them is passionate and knows how to push my buttons. Time with me is exactly what he needs when he’s in THAT mood. I found that out last year and now everything is smoother. I’m not the only one!!!

  12. What a great reminder. I’ve found one of the best times to talk is in the car.

  13. I can so relate to this! I am amazed at the difference it makes in him when I just take some time to interact and relate to him about normal stuff in his life. It helps him be the GREAT brother, son, friend that he was created to be and instead of making the rest of us miserable(and I say that in the sweetest way possible)…

  14. How lucky you are for your hammock! Often I find that I am shouting at my oldest and he is screaming back (he’s 15) and when we go into privacy and I lower my voice, he starts crying because he is having a bad day. Often the thing that is making him act badly is the exact thing that is making me angry. When we calm down and talk to each other, the button pushing goes away.

  15. i agree with this 100% but this is a wonderful reminder to make it happen regularly. i’m often quick to take away privileges when this is what i really need to be doing. engaging. knowing them. enjoying them. they are only small for a moment. then they are gone and i want my little ones to remember mommy spent time with them, invested in them- even in their worst of moments.

  16. I remembered this post and looked it up after a particularly rough two days with my button pusher. I tend to be A Yeller, which I know is terrible, and he keeps pushing and pushing until he gets a response from me. There are some other cicumstances contributing to the behavior right now, including a cast on his right arm for two weeks, but the bottom line is we’ve got to end this cycle now. Yesterday after he spent some time in his room so we could both cool off I called him down and we cuddled on the couch reading his new chaper book. The rest of the day went much better. My first inclination is to be punitive in response to the bad behavior but that’s clearly not working. It was a reminder to me how I need to be more intentional about carving out time for him. He’s in school a full day this year and with my work schedule he’s often what falls through the cracks. That needs to change.

    Thanks for the great post.

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