Do you struggle with minimizing life’s distractions? To maximize every second with my babies, I’ve been trying to remember to slow down and be fully present. I try to plan fun, interactive activities with them, but I also want to make the most of the everyday moments.
Over the years, I’ve tried to cherish as many memories as I could. Even when my kids woke in the middle of the night, I tried to spend an extra minute snuggling with them before I laid them back down. I knew those moments wouldn’t last, and I wanted to remember them.
Everyday life often gets in the way, though, and there have been many times that I felt the dreaded “mommy guilt” because I didn’t spend that extra second playing with them.
How to be Fully Present With Your Kids
If you’re struggling to enjoy every moment and be fully present, read on. Here are some tricks that I use to be present with my kids each day:
1. Put down the phone
Sometimes I forget my phone in my car or accidentally leave it on vibrate, buried in the no man’s land of my purse. I’ve noticed that those are the days when I magically have more time to play Monopoly with my son or “cook” with my daughter. More memories are made, and I find myself able to be fully present when playing with my babies.
Even when my phone isn’t misplaced, I try to make a conscious effort to put it down. I keep it on the charger during the day so that I’m not tempted to check my email or Facebook every ten seconds. I also turned off as many notifications as I could and switched to using a paper planner so that I wouldn’t go down a technological rabbit hole every time I needed to check my to-do list.
While I don’t have my phone attached to my hip, I may miss the occasional candid photo of my babies. That said, at least I’m able to experience every moment with them firsthand instead of catching glimpses of them over the edge of my sparkly pink phone cover.
2. Create (and stick to) a daily schedule
There’s always a random doctor’s appointment to schedule or a pressing issue that can’t wait. For the most part, though, I try to stick to a schedule. If I know ahead of time that I need make certain phone calls or bake a treat for a party, I schedule time to complete the tasks while the kids are occupied so that I’m not constantly interrupting the kids to make a phone call (while hiding in the bathroom because it’s the only quiet room in the house) or scrambling at dinner time to get things done before the close of business.
3. Involve the kids in household chores
There are lots of age appropriate chores that the kids can help do, and I love getting my kids to clean. When I do laundry, I let the kids help sort the clothes and hand them to me to place in the washer or dryer, and then I lift them up to “push the button” and start the machine. I use vinegar and Dawn dish soap to clean the showers, and my son thinks that “spraying blue stuff” is a privilege. My kids also love to wear socks on their hands and help dust the baseboards or coffee tables, and my son and I race up the driveway every garbage day to take the cans out.
4. Get on the kids’ level
Even if I need to fold laundry or bake cookies while the kids are under foot, I find that we interact and laugh more if we’re on the same level. I fold laundry on the carpet while the kids play with their cars or read books next to me. While I mix cookie dough, I let them stand on a chair so that they’re eye level and can see everything that I’m doing. When I cook dinner, I put my daughter in her highchair so that she’s still at eye level but stays a safe distance from the hot stove, and then we sing songs and play while I cook.
5. Household chores can wait
I often multitask and do smaller tasks like loading the washing machine or dryer, dishes, and cooking when the kids are eating snacks or coloring. Even so, I try to do a good portion of my cleaning when the kids are in their beds. My kids have a toy vacuum that they push around if I need to clean while they’re awake, but I still do the bulk of my cleaning during naps or after they’re in bed at night. I’m more efficient when I’m not trying to keep the kids from slipping across the wet kitchen floor or prevent them from licking my freshly Windexed glass tabletops, anyway.
It’s an ongoing struggle to be fully present at all times. My son has actually had to remind me to put down my phone while we were playing. In an age of multitasking, it’s difficult to retrain yourself to focus on one thing at a time. The most important thing is family, though. Everything else can wait.