It’s cold in Johannesburg. So very, very cold. Sitting in the sun does little to warm me up the wind keeps blowing. Of course I’m stating the obvious here for anyone who lives in Johannesburg. At least it gives us something to talk about as we greet  each other with, ‘It’s so cold.’ and ‘Isn’t it freezing.’ Wonderful how the weather bonds us.

It’s also time for blanket and clothes donations. I’m complaining with all my electric heaters and roof over my head. It’s not a nice feeling imagining all the unsheltered, under dressed people out there. (I guess it’s not a nice feeling for a reason, so that we do something about it.)

Anyhow after that sobering thought. On Sunday I went to a breakfast that featured Nikki Bush an author and public speaker about children and play. She was so dynamic you’d have wanted her to adopt you and your children for that matter. She said every thing we already know. That we need to be more present for our children. (In other words Blackberrys off more often. Especially when we fetch them from school, and are busy playing with them.) The quality time we need to spend with them – and that quality time is really playing. When we play with our children we’re on their level and they’re on ours. It’s the play of spirits more than just parent and child.

This is all very important and I’ve even written articles touching on this topic and yet I still find it so hard. To block out that time and be totally present. It takes such focus and discipline to put everything down and say ‘I am here for you now.’ I’m much better at shlepping them on errands, baking a cake with them and doing homework. They enter my world and I enter their world, but it’s not a together world.

So I have recommitted since going to Sunday’s talk to be more present and play with the Princes. I know that when I play soccer with Prince No. 1 his face is shining and he comes and sits on my lap later in the evening for  a story. In fact he thrives on quality time in general. Prince No. 2 also  loves it and Prince No. 3 keeps wanting to play this ‘Amazing Me’ game even though it’s way over his three-year old head. Why? Because he gets to speak and be listened to and just BE with me. (It is a fabulous EQ game – available from the educational toy shop on Louis Botha.)

Attention  lowers anxiety. Being seen and heard builds confidence. And the truth is it’s not just our kids who need this (as Nikki Bush pointed out) but us as well. That’s why Facebook and Twitter is so popular we all love putting up for the world to see what we’re doing. Our achievements, our burnt nuts (that’s me I’ve burnt my fifth batch of nuts last nights. Cashews. Don’t worry I’ve given up), the funny things of the day. We want to be seen, heard and commented on. We need it from our friends, loved ones and  world. It’s a natural human need.

So we need to get it for ourselves (date nights girls) and we need to give it to our children even if it means scheduling play in like a dentists appointment (not that it should have such painful associations). And it doesn’t have to be long. Nikki Bush says five minutes here an there does the trick. Storytelling in the car, where everyone adds a sentence to the story. (Yesterday in the car we had a story about a police station that got snowed in and the robbers who ran away froze and got knocked down. Don’t ask what it all means but it was fun.) Card games at restaurants before the food comes. Word and colour association games. You can go to her website and check out more ideas I’m sure. Just google.

I’ve been doing more ‘present’ time and it’s been lovely. (Although I’ve been rather tired and cranky in moments as well – no super mommy here.) One last thing I’ve done was really focus on dinner time, where we all sit around the dining room table and swap the good and bad of the day. I’ve tried it before and it never worked but now it’s really working. So much so that Prince No. 1 will continue to tell me the good and bad of the day into his bath time.

So people, every bit counts. Our children are worth it and we do deserve to enjoy our children after all the hard work we put it.