“Your presence is your present” I have read the cute phrase on many birthday or party invitations. I love the thought, and I have used it myself in the past. My thinking has changed, recently, and I no longer believe that a person’s presence is enough to be considered a gift to anyone.
We’ve all seen people who appear to be together, but upon closer observation, each of them has a mobile device in hand and is mentally and emotionally occupied in the device rather than the people around them. It’s common. People are present, but not engaged with anything other than a distraction.
I have to admit, I fall into this trap myself. At the end of a long day at home with the kids, Ill think back to any interactions I have had with them and only reprimands or commands come to mind. Its easy to be at home and distracted by chores, social media, negotiations with the kids, taxi driving them to different activities etc. The list goes on. It is so easy for me personally to check out emotionally and just go through the motions of my day.
At home I want to be a gift to my family. I will admit that there was a time (and there will always be moments in time) where I was not a gift to my family for an extended period of time. I became swallowed up in all the duties and distractions of motherhood. I was in robot mode more often than not, just doing the things that needed to be done, and not really fully enjoying the moments within each day. I can’t say I was completely miserable and without feeling, but I can say I wasn’t really present; my personality, my love, and my heart were not IN my work as a mom.
Two years ago things started changing as my mindset shifted. I decided I wanted to really ENJOY motherhood, and I wanted my children to ENJOY having me around. To do this I have created boundaries and shifted my thinking. Here are some things that have changed.
Having less of a presence on Social Media means I have more presence at home. I used to mindlessly thumb through Social Media sites looking for things to excite and entertain me. When I was engaged in that, my family disappeared from my focus and any of their calls for attention became frustrating interruptions to which I reacted negatively.
I have found that I can enjoy small doses of social media in specific time slots during the day. It’s not my go-to entertainment, I have enough entertainment with my three children each day. I go to social media to catch up and have a bit of personal time, I carve out specific times for it, and put it away for the day. I don’t let social media notifications distract me from my most important job of enjoying time with my kids and being mentally present with them.
I LOVE play dates, it’s a fun way to get in some adult time while allowing the kids to play and have fun. My problem was that I was defining play dates as quality time with my kids; “I took the kids to the park today” “we had a really fun time on our walk.” In reality, I was sitting on a bench, chatting with a friend and was not in any way engaged with my kids unless they were hurt or fighting.
I still think play dates are great and we have plenty of them. I am cautious, however, about considering that quality time with my kids. I make a conscious effort to take my kids to the park by myself and engage with them while we are there. Or if that isn’t possible, I make sure we have quality time in other ways, time when I’m not just around them, but actually with them.
I no longer consider my time at home to be time with the kids. Sure I am always around them, but unless I am emotionally, mentally, and physically with the kids, I don’t consider it quality time. I personally am not one who thinks I need to be with the kids ALL day, I value independent play, I value my alone time, and I carve out time for each of those. I do make a conscious effort, however, to actually be with my kids for a certain amount of time each day. I interact with them on their level, we play, we talk, we read, we do whatever really.
That time that we have together when I’m not just physically present, but emotionally and mentally present as well, that is the time that I feel I am a gift to them (and them to me). Our lives are enriched in those moments, learning occurs, and memories are made. Those moments aren’t always rainbows and unicorns, I do have to be real about it, but no matter what those are moments I am connected to my kids. Those moments are precious and true gifts.
How do you make your presence more of a present for your family? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear!