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.
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
Agree with your child rules for Internet use in your home. Try to reach an agreement with your child on the guidelines which apply to Internet use in your household.
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.
Now, to be fair, there are plenty of benefits that come with owning a smartphone, especially when it comes to maintaining close ties with far-flung friends and family, but if you are choosing to head into solitude in order to recharge, you would be better off making a date with yourself… without your phone.
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.
Don't try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child's minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.
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.
For All the Moms with ADHD...
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.