We’re on the Autobahn of information and response times. The turn around on correspondence is seemingly instant. Social media is chalked full of what I want NOW. The majority of my entertainment is held in my back pocket or in my purse on a daily basis. My phone is the first thing I check before putting the car in drive and it’s the last thing I see before I turn out the lights at night. While the internet is the reason I feel so much less lonely as a stay-at-home mom and it is the reason I make a very modest income without needing to hire someone to take care of my kids, it is a time suck. It may as well be a vortex of perpetual distraction. About a week ago, we were at a museum where Viking artifacts were on display. I couldn’t help but think how painstakingly arduous each item must have been to make. Each nail that went into each piece of handcrafted wood that was held together by each fire-welded piece of steel, though impressive, made me eternally grateful for present day. Still, I couldn’t help but reflect on wonderful the most basic leisurely activity must have been to them. And how we are afforded all sorts of luxuries, but are also turning into overweight drones. At the risk of sounding hyper-cliche, there is a desperate need for balance. I am constantly reminding myself to take a step back and get present. While I continue to battle with the pull of what needs to be done on the computer or my phone, I am getting better. Part of what helps is checking in with myself from time-to-time and focusing on getting back to what is most important. Here are the 10+ ways I find work to be more present parenting In your daily life some I do regularly some I’m trying to do more regularly!
10+ Ways To Be More Present Parenting In Your Daily Life
1. Each morning, spend the first half hour or more without touching your phone or computer. Even though I may get lost in work, emails, or social media later on, this starts the day off on the right foot. And, since starting to do this pretty well every day, I notice that I get lost in the kids and not in “just finishing this last thing on the computer” that turns into 10 more things before I know it.
2. Create an invitation to play. It can be a sensory bin, play dough with odd household objects for impressions, cloud dough with your child’s favourite toys. An invitation to play is a play scene that involves a bit of set-up on the parent’s part. Because it requires set up, and because it may have the potential to get messy, it is a wonderful time to get down to their level and build on their play.
3. Lose your phone often. While I don’t do this deliberately, when I realize I’ve left my phone upstairs or in the car, I don’t run and get it until such time as I actually need it. It diminishes distractions. If you’re less absent-minded than me, simply turning your phone off or putting it away for a period of time each day will give your kids more quality time and will help you feel unburdened in the moment.
4. Turn off as many push notifications as you can afford to live without. Periscope is the only notification I have because it is a live streaming app. Other than that, they’re off. And the reason they’re off is to stop me from checking my phone an extra hundred times a day.
5. When you’re feeling pulled in a number of directions and want to centre in, take a few deep breaths and then take note of what is around you. An incredible way to really get present is to observe the present. When I’m feeling flustered for no good reason, deep breathing is my first course of action. Then, I do find observing what I hear, what I see, what I feel in the moment and just making note of those things helps me hone in on the moment.
6. Get outside or go somewhere outside of the home. Being stuck at home day in and day out can make the draw of social media that much greater. Though I love being at home with my kids, often I crave more stimulation than the confines of our four walls. Getting outside is a great reset for the kids when they’re acting up. And it’s great for me to really focus on them.
7. Forget the photo ops. If I could bottle up my children’s youth and have the ability to re-live each moment (less the crying), I would. And because I love them so much, I can feel this compulsion to video and photograph them. But in doing that, I’m not truly present to what’s going on. I’m not drinking in every aspect of what’s happening and responding to them. Instead, I’m deleting old photos to get enough memory on my phone, looking for the best angle with the best lighting with the least amount of clutter. Oh! and then I’m group messaging the images to all of our immediate family. While I’m not going to stop doing this altogether, my kids like looking through photos of themselves after the fact, I am trying to be much more sparing with the pics I take. After all, I was raised in the age of Kodak film, and never have I wished my mom had 5,000 more photos of me. It’s the feelings the memories leave that truly matter. And my mom was never hiding behind a camera.[bctt tweet=”In hiding behind a camera, I’m failing to drink in the moment. I need to get present.”]
8. Turn off the music in the car from time-to-time and tell a story that requires their participation or play a game. I would never think this would make much of a difference, but when the music is off and everyone is just sitting in the car, we end up having these sweet conversations, play “I Spy,” or I end up telling countless stories from when I was little (if they’re repeats – which they typically are – I prompt my kids to fill in the blanks or answer questions about the stories).
9. Sit down together for dinner and talk about your favourite parts of your day. While this doesn’t happen every single night, sitting down with no electronics together as a family is one of the best ways to end our day with the kids. We cheers each other, talk about our day, and usually share what we are proud of the kids for doing that day or relive highlights of the day.
10. Ask your kids what their favourite part of the day was each day. Whenever we’ve come from something together, my go-to question is “What was your favourite part?” It could be from being at a museum, a day at school, a birthday party, even the park. It stimulates conversation for my two-year-old and three-year-old. Whatever the best question or series of questions is for your family may be to be determined, but it is really a marvelous thing to listen to your young child reflect and discuss the highlight for them.[bctt tweet=”Forget the photo ops, forget your phone, get down to their level and play. #getpresent”]
11. Take care of yourself. I know it may seem contradictory, but I am so much more of a slave to social media when I’m overtired and haven’t had time to myself. Go to the gym, visit with friends, or go on a date with your spouse regularly to feel more recharged.
How do you get more present with your kids? I would love to hear your thoughts!