As a parent, some days are extra long and challenging and bedtime can’t seem to come soon enough. Finally all the kids are tucked in and actually asleep — you have your first moment to breathe. But as you think back over the day, you realize you spent your time working, car-pooling kids, refereeing fights, cleaning the house and managing homework. You never actually took time to just enjoy your children.
This happens to most of us, at least some of the time. Creating deliberate moments with our children sounds like an easy thing to do as a parent. However, most of our energy is spent focusing on work, social media, laundry or other obligations. The result: the most important people in our lives often get the least of us.
Even if we are technically with our children, we can easily get distracted. Paying attention to our kids should be an easy thing to do. But as parents we are pulled in so many directions, even if many of them are good directions.
This busy, distracted life we lead requires us to create deliberate moments with our children. After all, they are what matters most. It’s important to have time with our children that is purposeful and focused entirely on them.
At MOMentity, one of our core focuses is on how we can cherish our children. We can be proactive with our day and make sure our children know they are most important. Here are three ideas to increase deliberate moments with our children:
1. Go offline
This is becoming increasingly difficult. I imagine as technology continues to keep us in the loop of every email, tweet and post, this is a skill-set we must really master. You can start by turning off push notifications on your phone so you don’t get buzzed each time someone sends you an email or comments on your Facebook wall.
I keep my phone in my pocket most of the day, which gets tricky. I find it very challenging to leave it alone and not pull it out to skim the Internet or my Instagram feed. I have found if I plug my phone into the wall and play music from it, not only am I less likely to surf around the smart device, the music I choose can also positively increase the mood in my home. Playing upbeat music has even started a dance party (or several) in the kitchen, creating some great moments with my kids.
Ashley Ludlow is a singer and mother of three in Burley, Idaho. Ludlow understands going offline is important to create deliberate moments with her family. “I shut the laptop and invite [my kids] on my lap instead. I put the phone just out of reach. I hold their hands and look them in the eye when I'm speaking with them. I really enjoy teasing my kids and getting them to laugh or smile. Those are the moments we really remember.”
2. Segment your day
The biggest reason we look back on our day with regret is blurred lines between our role as a mother, our role as a home manager and our role as an individual. So many of the women I work with don’t separate their duties as home manager from their duties as mommy. They spend all day cooking and cleaning rather than being present with their children and wonder why they feel such a disconnect.
Plan segments of time during the day to be with your kids and really be with them — play with them. You’ll know you’ll have time to check your email later, during the time you have set aside for yourself.
Lisa Nelson, health coach and mother of four from Grantsville, Utah, has even gone so far as to create special time with her girls at night. “One of our favorite things is to practice quiet time before bed. I’m trying to teach them a way to decompress that will hopefully help them later in life. So we get out the yoga mats, light some candles, turn on quiet music, and get our corpse pose on.”
3. Engage your children
Earlier tonight I was talking with my friend Suzanne about how we create family time in our homes. She said when her children were young she always would include them in the work. Working side-by-side our children is a fantastic way to spend deliberate time with them. We can involve our children in doing housework, cooking dinner, planting a garden, even serving a neighbor.
Britny Goodwin is raising a 4-year-old and 6-year-old in Lake Forest, California. Her kids love to throw elaborate tea parties, taking all the planning upon themselves. Goodwin uses the opportunity to teach them table manners and how to serve others but finds even more benefits than just teaching opportunities. “It’s these moments that I cherish the most because it’s when they are the most opened and detailed about their week. And I get to relax a bit and just listen to them completely. Plus who doesn't like to dress up for tea parties?”
If we make an effort to be deliberate with the time we spend cherishing our children, we will not only strengthen the relationships we have with our children, we will also find greater joy in our role as a parent and feel less guilt at the end of a long day.
Nicole Carpenter is the CEO of MOMentity.com and creator of Define Your Time eCourse. She is a speaker and mentor for mompreneuers. Nicole and her husband are raising four children, 9 years and younger, including twin toddlers. Twitter: @momentity