During a marriage DVD set with friends sometime ago I remember hearing about side by side time for the first time. I enjoy face to face time the most with my girlfriends and it turns out that most women are like this too. Guys and definitely my husband like side by side time.
During this time for either of us it is where conversations happen- the deeper conversations, difficult conversations come and things come up. It’s when he’s working on something and I’m doing something nearby. It doesn’t have to be completely side by side but definitely nearby.
The main point is we’re not across from each other.
I remember after hearing that section how looking back on what we did together my husband was always inviting me to join him for side by side activities and I craved do nothing but sit face to face activities. He needed to talk and that was his signal. Now he knew mine too.
It was such a light bulb moment for us both to understand how it made us feel when we did the right thing for the other.
Mother of boys applying side by side time to her boys
As the mother of boys I figured that if my husband likes side by side time then perhaps my sons would like this too.
Somehow I needed to figure in ways to have plenty of side by side time. Naturally, I forgot this at the beginning stages of having my family. We did our big conversations face to face for the most part. It’s how I do things so I naturally did what I do. I don’t think I’m alone. As a boy mum I had a lot to learn about finding what works for my boys. Not everything boy related would but I try different things.
While reading Wild things- the art of nurturing boys, I was reminded about how deliberate we need to be with our boys. I only have boys so this is my perspective. That deliberance isn’t always obvious and intuitive for us as mothers. We do what we like and know based on our very different, and sometimes limited experiences.
It’s not easy to just do something different. I love these boys books because we have real examples, situations and I can see how I would deal with it from people who have gone before me.
Side by Side activities work I believe, because there’s a lack of eye contact on both sides. It’s really hard to not react with your whole body when you hear something. Our family knows us too well. Yet there are things we want and need to talk about. For boys, my boys maybe your boys too not facing you while they tell you might mean they tell you more.
Now, how do we get more of this talking and sharing as a habit while they are little so that as they grow this is a part of family life? We want our sons to be able to share and we want to be able to share the important stuff with them.
Examples of side by side activities
Making lunch making lunch
washing dishes Drying dishes and putting away / emptying the dishwasher
Wiping down surfaces/Dusting Sweeping/mopping
Preparing a meal
Gardening watering/ yard work
Crafting music practice/fun time/ model making
walking/ walking the dog/ walk into town
Car journeys school run/clubs and activities
Contributions ( Chores) are also a good way of working side by side with boys. As they do their job you do something nearby.
Side by side activities are any activities where we’re not hovering but doing the activity and they are doing an activity close by.
( Can be the same or a different activity) We’re both out of direct eye contact if we look up. Usually we need to turn to see each other’s face.We are near enough that either of us can just start a conversation, say something and we’re both able to hear and respond.
How side by side time worked for us
Side by side conversation worked for us in a big way this week.
“He took it from me.”
This is what my son said to me on Monday, 2 minutes before leaving for the school bus. I was emptying the dishwasher and he was cleaning the table of the breakfast things and stacking them in the sink. My immediate need was to swing around and fire off a lot of questions to clarify what he said. But I heard his quiet voice mumbling behind me, unloaded a few plates and fought back those first thoughts. He had the space now to fill. Totally bad timing but this was too important. He was sharing. I could take him to school.
I don’t know when he would have brought up that situation. We’d had dinner the night before. The incident had happened yesterday. There had been the usual face to face time. He didn’t take it.
It was serious enough for him to have been worried about sharing with me. Because we had the side by side time he didn’t see my big wide eyes or my deep breathing. He had space to share his long story where he gets himself into trouble too. While I unloaded the dishwasher.
Whether I dealt with the situation the youngest mentioned well is another story but I’m glad for these side by side activities. He shared the situation. We could deal with it. I’m convinced because of our side by side time.
Nurture these times and carve them into your everyday activities so they have plenty of opportunities to share what’s on their hearts.
As time goes by and you have an older boy you’ll be happy for the regular snatches of conversations and you’ll have some mighty interesting conversations on both sides without the judgment and your first emotions stealing the show.
When your son shared something deep or important to them were you side by side or face to face? I’m curious for just this last time? What were you doing? Share below.