How much time do you spend with your child/ren each day? 20minutes? 1 hour? 8 hours? Now how much of that time that you’re spending together, are you truly present?
Children are smart and intuitive. They know when you’re not really with them – sometimes before you’re even aware of this. My daughter has said to me on a few occasions after telling me something: “Mom, did you hear what I just said.” Many of those times I have to admit that I heard, but I haven’t truly listened.
Our Children Mirror Us
Our children are our mirrors. They mimic us. If we pay attention, we can learn so much from them. My daughter recently got a mobile phone. In the first week I started getting really irritated because I kept having to repeat instructions, bath water got overrun and she was rushing through meals to get back to playing on her phone. I started having to set time limits for her to use it. And this is where it got interesting… Because she wasn’t allowed on her phone at certain times, she would start pointing out when I wasn’t “sticking to the rules”! I couldn’t argue with her – she was right. I started to become aware of how often I was checking my phone while I was supposed to be focusing on other things.
How often do we sit with our children to watch a movie, while keeping our phones next to us to keep in touch with the rest of the world? What happened to the big event of watching a movie together and then chatting about it afterwards? Now we “watch” lots of movies that we’re hardly present for.
How many other events aren’t we present for when we’re with our children?
Our children might start to seem more demanding and want more of our time, but it’s actually quality time they’re craving. We need to be more present with them during the times that we are together. Rather spend 20minutes truly engaging with your child, than hours with them being distracted.
Just for today, try these 5 things when you’re with your child:
1. Eat a meal with her and guide her to enjoy the taste sensations of each mouthful with you.
2. When he tells you a story, look at him and show your undivided interest in what he says.
3. When you watch a movie together, only watch the movie. Put your phone/iPad/computer away.
4. Get outdoors! Walk holding hands and take time to look at the trees, the leaves, the clouds.
5. Go to a park and make pushing him on the swing a Zen practice – feel the relaxation in the repetitive movement.