Is anyone feeling like it is more difficult to be fully present for your children lately? No? It’s just me? Come on, admit it…you’ve been a little distracted lately, right? Doesn’t it seem harder than ever to focus on one thing at a time? I have never worked in conditions like these. I don’t usually bring my husband and toddler to work with me--the latter often singing Disney songs at the top of her lungs or requiring urgent help because one of her stuffed animals isn’t sitting correctly. And being home together means that there are more household tasks than ever before—who knew a family of three could use so many dishes each day? Many of us are struggling to balance several roles at once, which means it is difficult to be fully present for any of those roles. With our attention being pulled in so many different directions, we cannot expect ourselves to parent the same way we did before.
Before we started social distancing, I loved taking my daughter swimming at our local YMCA. It was the perfect way to reconnect at the end of the week –I have no choice but to be fully present when swimming with a toddler. I miss this special bonding time. Now, I’m searching for ways to get that same connection while working from home.
I could probably start by check my phone less frequently. Lately, it feels like my phone is another member of our family. I will admit to you that even pre-COVID19, I usually had my phone nearby. I am the type of mom who cannot miss a photo opportunity, so I am always prepared. However, I was better at organizing my time so that I did not always feel the need to send “one quick email” while coloring. I feel a lot of pressure to be present for work, even when I am home. At times, I feel as though I am striving to get work done at the expense of spending quality time with my child. And my kid still naps, so I know some of you are tackling more!
After dealing with some serious mom guilt, I decided I would find time to practice mindful moments throughout our days. Unless I make time for these moments, they just aren’t going to happen. A simple idea I read about in a Facebook Group sparked some genuine present time together this week. When my daughter and I go for walks, she either sings the entire time, completely unaware of anyone around her, or she asks to listen to Disney songs—which still involves quite a bit of singing. It’s adorable to observe, but I’m looking for moments of greater connectivity. So, I introduced her to the concept of taking a Rainbow Walk. During these walks, we observe our surroundings and find objects for each color of the rainbow. It’s such a simple game, but boy, do we have fun! She shouts with enthusiasm each time she finds a color.
“The grass is green!”
“The sky is blue!”
“There are purple flowers over there!”
I’m glad she knows her colors, but more importantly, this game demands our focus. When we play, we are both completely in the moment and sharing goofy grins; no email is going to top that.
Another way we practice being present is by doing yoga together. We recently discovered Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube. I love how Jamie uses yoga poses to tell a story. (We like the Frozen and Moana themed classes!) We haven’t worked up to focusing for the entire 30 minutes yet. My daughter will often wander away to check out her toys, but this is developmentally appropriate for 2.5. What makes these moments meaningful is that I am not wandering away to check my computer. I am present for her when she decides she wants to strike a pose together.
There are so many other ways to sneak mindful moments into the day. Similar to the Rainbow Walk, we have gone on Sense Walks and used our five senses to notice our surroundings. (Well, usually just four because we don’t often taste much on these walks!) Focusing on making time to be present made me realize that naptime and bedtime rituals provide the ultimate opportunity to connect. We have a pretty set routine, but I like to add something silly each night so that we can share a special moment of laughter together. I may have been distracted by many obligations throughout the day, but I want my daughter to go to sleep remembering the moment that we just shared.
This time will eventually be behind us. I hope that when our children look back, they remember all the little ways we made our time together at home feel special.
How are you making sure that mindful moments are still part of your family life?