Does it feel like you’re at war with the clock? Like you don’t have enough time to do all the things on your to-do list? Struggle with finding time for yourself? Feel disconnected from your kids?
If you answer any of these questions with a “yes,” welcome to parenthood! Being a parent is one of the most difficult, yet rewarding jobs. You have so many things on your to-do list. Often, we are spouses, employees, caregivers, dietitians, Uber drivers, and teachers for our children “going” to school digitally. With so much on our plate, we become overwhelmed and stressed. This easily can turn into not being really present. We feel disconnected from our children, ourselves, and from our lives.
How do you reconnect and become a more present and “in the moment” parent with your kids?
1. Put down your phone.
It’s so easy for us to be engrossed in our technology (i.e., social media). When you do, it’s easy to see other people’s photos, videos, homes, and compare them to yours. You may ask yourself: “Why doesn’t my house look like theirs? Why doesn’t my family look this happy? What am I doing wrong?”
The average adult spends 11 hours per day in front of some type of screen while they check their phone every 10 minutes. When you put down your phone, it allows your attention and focus to be placed on what is important to you (your children). It allows you to prioritize time with your children, your family, your spouse, and even yourself. I encourage you to take an honest look at how much time you spend on social media (IG, FB, Pinterest, etc.). Once you have that amount of time calculated, invest that time in doing something that brings value to your life.
2. Be intentional in spending quality time with your child.
Whether it is when they wake up or during your bedtime routine, create space for intentional and focused time with your child. Quality time doesn’t have to be a big planned activity. It’s really the little sweet moments that matter like telling your child you love them, placing a note in their lunch box, playing with them, or reading to them. As they grow, allow them to read to you, have a snack together, tell silly jokes. It can be easy to start with 5 to 10 minutes, then work up from there. When you are intentional with spending quality time with your child it increases the bond between the two of you.
Things You Can Do First Thing In The Morning To Be a More Present Parent:
- Lovingly rouse them from sleep.
- Wake them by singing a good morning song.
- Cuddle in the bed with them.
- Ask them what are they looking forward to today.
Things You Can Do At Bedtime To Be a More Present Parent:
- Read them a book.
- Ask them about the highs and lows of their day.
- Give them backrubs and back scratches.
- Snuggle up with them.
Your child will begin to look forward to and anticipate the time that you will spend together. Try for quantity time and quality time and mind your mindset while you are with your child. Make sure all of you is present.
3. Take time for yourself.
If your tank is empty you have nothing to give and won’t be present. As parents, we have been told that our lives should revolve around our kids. Parents feel like it is selfish to take care of themselves. It’s really not. When you take care of yourself, you are creating greater capacity to give your energy to be with your child. Taking time to get enough sleep, eating right, exercising (running, yoga, biking, walking, hiking), or writing in a journal, all help put you in the right frame of mind to be an engaged and present parent.
4. Bring them into your daily life.
There are many parts of our lives that we can incorporate our children into.
Exercise: If you walk, run, or bike, get a baby carrier and take them with you. Put them in their stroller for a walk around the neighborhood or park. All the while, talk to them about what they see: the tall trees, the falling leaves, insects, and animals.
Cooking: Set up a small table for your child with child-sized utensils. Allow them to play with pots you’re not using. If your child is an infant, place them in their seat where they can see you. Cook while having a running conversation with your child. Talk to them about what you are doing. Ask them questions about their thoughts and feelings.
Work: If you are having to work from home with a young child, create a “workspace” for your new “assistant.” Give them paper, crayons, and washable markers as supplies.
Household Chores: Your child can sort clothes by color to place in the washing machine, take clothes out of the dryer, and carry clothes to the correct room. Give your child the responsibility to feed and water the family pets.
If you’ve been beating yourself up as a busy parent, STOP.
Kids aren’t looking for perfect parents; they are looking for present parents. Don’t allow the stress of “Am I doing enough?” hamper you from enjoying what you are doing. Spending quality time being present with your child should trump your feelings of guilt and stress about not spending enough time with a child.
In reality, working moms today are actually spending more time with their children than stay-at-home moms did in the 1970s. Father-child quality time together has almost tripled in that same time period. Please give yourself a break. Make the most of all the moments you have with your child. You can do it!