Appreciate the little things. Time flies. Know what’s really important. Keep things in perspective. Be present. I read blog post after blog post on these topics and every time I smile and nod in agreement. “Yes! Such an important message!” Then I turn my head away from my kids and go back to scrolling on my phone. “Aww! That puppy is so cute!” “Kim Kardashian did what?!” And so it goes. The other day I caught myself in a situation where my three year old and I were sitting next to each other on the couch both looking down at our phones. Three year old watching monster truck videos on YouTube, me browsing Facebook. And it hit me: this is not how I want to spend my time with my kids. It’s time to stop nodding in agreement to all those blog posts, and actually be present.
So I made a conscious effort this week to change my behavior and learned so many things including Jack actually does know how to share with his brother (who knew!), Justus can stand on his own for about 5 seconds (yay!), and the brother bond was forming before my eyes (priceless).
This is what I did:
- Put down the phone. Common sense right? This was surprisingly difficult though. I saw the blinking light and had to keep reminding myself not to pick it up to see what exciting update I was missing. Whatever it was, it could wait. And guess what, I didn’t miss anything earth shattering.
- Get down to their level. I sat on the floor and actually played with my boys. We crawled around the floor, chased each other, raced trucks, tackled one another, and most of all, laughed hysterically.
- Be aware. Every day I stepped back for a second to notice the details of what was happening at that very moment. I looked at their smiles, smelled their hair, felt their skin, listened to their laughter. And then I breathed deeply and soaked it all in.
- Accept the fact that kid’s play is boring. It is. There is a ton of repetition, none of it makes any sense, and it’s just plain tedious. But this is how kids learn and develop. So I had to get over the fact that although I may not find it fascinating, I will do it for them.
- Talk to them. I told them how much fun I was having and how happy I was to be spending time with them.
- Don’t take pictures. This was also difficult for me because as soon as I see my boys doing something cute, I run for my phone so I can capture it (and immediately post it to Facebook). But this takes me out of the moment. I am now behind the camera, saying “hold on, can you do that again?” “Can you look up and smile first?” Again, I put down the phone and let myself experience the moment.
- Put a time limit on it. I still need to cook dinner, finish the laundry, and prepare for the next day. Realistically, I can’t be rolling around on the floor with the kids for hours, so I put a time limit on play time. It doesn’t have to be long, but I have to make it count. When it’s time to make dinner, I say “I had so much fun playing, but now it’s time to make dinner. I can’t wait to play again tomorrow!” Sometimes there are protests, sometimes crying, sometimes it ends peacefully. Regardless of how it ends, it is always worth it. Always.
Are you able to be present? How do you do it?