I feel like I’m always looking for Ways to Be More Present with Our Kids. “I’m struggling to be present with my kids. I feel like I’m missing out on them and they’re right there in front of me,” she said softly when I asked her how things were going. It had been a long time since we’d gotten together, but this 30-minute outing to the coffee shop was a welcome reprieve for us both. I nodded. “I get it,” I assured her. And I do.
As moms, we’re busy, we’re distracted, and we are quite often left with that “did I do enough today” guilt that settles into the pit of our stomachs as we tuck our kids into bed at night. In today’s technology driven world, it’s easier to be around, but harder to be present. Making the commitment to show children that they are more important than the distractions from outside will improve relationships and, more importantly, their sense of self-worth. Here’s how to stop the guilt and be present today.
Put Your Phone Away
It sounds simple enough, but it’s hard to detach from our devices and go tech free. Yet, when our kids see us checking emails or scrolling through Facebook while they take their turn in the game we’re playing together, they’re not fooled. We’re there, but we’re not present. You have to physically put your phone in a different room and leave it there while you’re playing, reading, or talking with your child. Put away the distractions from the outside world and enjoy the amazing family you’re creating in the present.
Make Eye Contact
When was the last time you looked your child in the eye as you spoke with him? Can you remember how his eyes crinkle in the corners and his cheeky grin makes you laugh? The next time you sit down to chat, make eye contact and really look at your child as he’s talking with you. It will make him feel like you’re truly listening and in the moment with him.
Listen with Intent
Kids like to talk, but how much are you really hearing? Do you ask them to repeat themselves? Do you try to give an answer that seems like it could quite possibly be related to something they asked – even though you have absolutely no clue what they were saying? Be present and listen. Look them in the eye. Really listen to what they’re saying. Make an effort to listen with intent or purpose, so that you can ask questions or share in their joy or sorrow. Focus on their words, but also focus on what they’re not saying, because sometimes those are the things you need to hear the most.
If you’re feeling like you’ve wasted too many conversations, too much playtime, and too many hours not being present, you’re not alone. The good news is that today is what matters. You can’t go back and be more present in those moments when Facebook stole your attention, but you can resolve not to let it happen again. Our kids need to know that we’re in the moment with them. They need to know that they are more important than the distractions of technology. If we don’t model that behavior for them now, there will come a time when they’re too distracted to pay attention and be present with us. Now, put away your phone and go make memories.