Source: pexelsWe are all guilty of this. You are physically present with your child but you are somewhere else in your mind. Dinner, garbage, homework, laundry, your work responsibilities. The list is truly endless. And it never stops. As a mom, right now I am really struggling to be present.
I feel like I am constantly multi-tasking while my to-do list is running through my head. Managing the calendars of 3 children is insane. In my mind, I see a whole lot of unchecked boxes and more items being added on as the day and night go on. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t stay on top of anything, work or home. And I know this isn’t a coincidence when I tell you that my kids seem more agitated, more needy, more disgruntled each day. I know I’m not meeting their need for connection, attention , and validation. I’m not finding my kids to be funny, and I don’t have it in me to be funny or keep things light. I am merely looking at the day and night as a countdown with a list that’s growing, not getting any shorter.
The Introverted Mom
I know I’m not alone. I’m frustrated, my kids are frustrated. I find that I’m extra clumsy—I’m making mistakes, knocking things over. Something has to change. With that said, I’ve decided I need to be more present. Here. Now. In the here and now, not in my sea of endless tasks, phone calls, texts, emails that need to be sent. When I am with my kids and husband, my mind has to be focused on the interaction, their words, their thoughts, their emotions. So, here is my plan:
Put the Electronic Device Down and Nobody Gets Hurt
Turn the TV off when you can and turn the conversation on where possible. And remember; loving them is easy, it’s rearing them that’s hard but it does get easier with practise.
Silence it, turn it off, close the laptop and walk away. Make a commitment to not check. I’ve been more mindful of how many times I reach for my phone when I don’t have an intent to do anything with it. It’s become a habit. I think I understand our children’s obsession with their electronics. There is something that pulls us to check our emails texts or social media to make sure that someone else didn’t post something that we should know about, or “like”.
Rather than looking at my phone or laptop and pretending to have just heard what one of my kids just said, and responding with the insincere, “Cool,” or “Yes,” without really knowing what I just agreed to, I’m going to ask my children to give me a few minutes to finish what I’m working on and then turn my attention to the conversation. I am going to open the loop again so that they have a chance to tell me what they want me to know, hear, or see.
Look Into My Eyes
I’m going to take this one step further. I’m not only going to put down my phone and close my laptop, but I’m actually going to turn my body and look at my husband, my sons or my daughter. I am going to intentionally focus on the body language , facial expression and listen to the words that are being shared with me.
It saddens me when I realize that I haven’t done that in a while. My eyes have been on my screen, my fingers on my keyboard. But the genuine interaction of looking and connecting with each other hasn’t been there.
Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, "You're great," try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, "Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was hard, and I really liked your patience."
Limit YourScreen Time
Let me say it again. We are just as addicted as our kids. Think about on how long you are going to work on a particular task that involves your phone or laptop.
- Delete apps that are sucking up your time
- Set a timer or an alarm
- Once your timer/alarm rings, put your phone down, close your laptop. Get up and walk away.
I’m not saying your time has to be productive all of the time. You are allowed your mindless time, but just try to be aware of how much time you are doing this. You may find that you are spending more time than you think. If you need downtime, take it. It’s more productive for our children to see us taking care of ourselves by taking a walk or reading a book rather than with our face in our screen.
As a mom of a teenager, budding teenager, and a 6-year-old, I am being pulled in multiple developmental directions. My 3 children have 3 very different sets of needs. My practice has a lot of needs as it’s in its toddler growing phase. But I am a mom first and I am making a vow to be more present. Make the vow with me.