5 Ways To Be More Present With Your Family
Have you mastered the art of being present with your kids? Or does technology, work, or daydreaming pull you away and keep you from connecting in ways that you want and that they need?
We all inhabit vast networks of relationships. For example, on a street with just ten residents, there are 45 unique relationships. However, in a recent survey, when asked how many friends they could call upon in case of an emergency, most people answered zero. Why?
Part of the reason is distraction. Our phones distract us from our families, our tasks distract us from our co-workers, the comforts of home distract us from our neighbors, our planners distract us from our priorities, and our regrets and fantasies distract us from real life.
But just like a seed in damp soil that is awoken and springs to life, we need to cultivate conditions that set the tone for and foster connection. Every morning—and multiple times throughout the day—we have the opportunity to establish and re-establish the tone of an encounter. But if we fail to acknowledge the power we have to influence our connection with our kids and take steps to ensure it happens, we will live distractedly day to day.
Here are 5 simple ways to be more present with your kids:
1. Be Early
Being late is one of the best ways to be sure you have no margin and you show up stressed. You’ll be frantic and distracted, and sometimes you’ll be short with your kids. By planning ahead and making sure you’re early to get where you’re going, you will have room to breathe and you’ll find you’re much more patient with your kids. There’s no need to make this a new legalism. But choose a priority event and show up 15 minutes early. See how it feels. And enjoy the extra space you have with your kids.
2. Sunnyside Down
Whenever you’re spending time with your kids, turn your phone sunnyside down on the table. This makes it impossible to use without making a conscious choice to be distracted. I know it’s hard. But you will never look back at a week and think, I wish I had spent more time on my phone and less on my kids.
3. Intentional Screen Time
If possible, schedule screen moments into your day. Give yourself a ten-minute block every couple of hours to check your email or scroll through social media. Set a screen time limit on your phone that alerts you when you have spent 30 minutes or 60 minutes on social media and shut it down when you hit the limit. If you need a device for work, let your kids know when you need to work, and try to give them a concrete time of when you will be available again.
4. Replace Television with Talking
If you watch television every night, choose two nights a week to leave it off. If you watch tv only a couple of nights a week, try going without for it for a week. Instead, use this time to talk with your spouse, your kids, or a friend. Save this sort of screen time for scheduled moments rather than something you turn on to check out.
5. Take a Family Walk
As simple as it sounds, focus is hard. Getting out of your normal environment without screens or other distractions can create unique opportunities for connection. Leave your phone at home and take a walk through your neighborhood. See what there is to see, and soak up every opportunity to enjoy your spouse or kids.
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