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July 18, 2018

Being Present for our Kids
Do you wish that you could be more present for your kids? How is that even possible?
Here are some ideas for you that I have learned through my coaching. There are no hard and fast rules in parenting, I would love for you to take the ideas that resonate and leave the ones that don’t appeal to you.
Often what is holding us back from being more present with our kids is our feelings. We feel restless. We feel bored. We feel agitated. We feel frustrated. We feel annoyed. We feel disappointed. Yes, there is fun and enjoyment and love and laughs but somehow I don’t think you need help with that side of life.
Let me give you a hypothetical example (definitely not from my personal experience – no never!).
You decide to do something nice with the kids. Perhaps you have decided to do some art and craft at home. You set out all the items. Cardboard, paint glitter. And then the kids tell you that they would prefer to watch TV. But somehow you manage to muster up some interest and you get started. The kids take forever to cut out shapes and they are not really looking like the idea that you have in mind. Your mind starts wandering, they really are taking a very long time… This is boring. You are wondering if you should have just let them watch TV. Your tummy grumbles and you realise it is almost lunch time. You feel agitated. Maybe you should go and make some lunch as everyone will be getting hangry shortly. So you quickly explain to the kids how to complete the art and craft project and leave them to create a masterpiece. You return to the scene, sandwiches in hand and there is a great big pile of glitter and cardboard. The result is very different from what you imagine and it looks like the clean up is going to take longer than the art activity. You feel frustrated that the project didn’t go to plan. You feel annoyed that you didn’t experience the quality time together that you had hoped for and now disappointed. Has anyone experience this? Or something similar. Usually when it comes to art and craft, the result is me in a fit of rage hahaha but I digress (and I am using these very tools to improve my experience).
Often we exacerbate all these feelings simply by our expectations. We have this idea that this should be just fun, that we should feel engaged, that we should enjoy the process of transferring skills, it should be engaging for us, the kids should appreciate this time together, the kids should enjoy the entire process, the kids should be able to follow instructions, they should do it all and they definitely should be grateful.
Notice a pattern? The “should” creates an extra layer of discomfort because we end up feeling frustrated that we are frustrated, annoyed that we are annoyed… There is an extra layer of emotional discomfort. When we notice all these expectations we have, we can let go of our “should” and when the “should” falls away so does a layer of our own pain.
Instead of fighting the feelings, the first step is to just expect them to come up. You might think “oh there is boredom, that feeling is restlessness and that’s ok”. You might even expect a few obstacles along the way.
This makes the time we intentionally carve out with our kids more enjoyable!
We can ask ourselves why we want to be more present. There is no wrong answer here. Do you want to be a better mum. To build a stronger relationship with your kids. Create amazing memories. Teach them something. Give them access to a new experience or transfer a skill. Spend time together. Create quality experiences. All of the above. Just get clear about why you want it and then ask yourself “how can I do this?” “How long do I want to spend with my kids each day/week?” “What would that look like?” “What activity should we engage in?” 2 hours of time a week where the smart phone sits in your handbag and the sole focus is on your kids. It could be 20 minutes a day reading to your kids. Sitting next to your kids for 30 minutes a day fully engaged watching a show of their choice with them. 10 minutes of conversation. 1 hour of whatever your child chooses to do with you. 40 minutes of child directed play – You decide!
And one tip, don’t make the commitment to your kids really big, make it very realistic. If currently spending 10 minutes a days feels like a stretch, choose something achievable – 5 minutes a day!
You are going to honour your commitment to spend that amount of time doing that activity with your kids that you have planned ahead of time. And you know what? Its just going to get easier over time! And know that small consistent efforts truly add up to big results. The result ultimately will be you know that you are the kind of mum who consistently is present with your kids. The kids will decide how they will interpret your time with them and you cannot change that, but you can be confident that you are showing up in your kids life in a way that you choose.
And if it doesn’t go to plan for some reason. make sure you have your own back. None of us are perfect. Notice what went wrong and figure out how to make sure you honour your commitment to yourself over time.
Does this resonate with you? I LOVE posting about this work on my Instagram account. I give lots of examples from my life and show how I apply these concepts. Come and join my Instagram conversation here.
Image by Filip Mroz, Unsplash