Better Parenting Tips
One of the job hazards of being a Digital Entrepreneur is that it’s far too easy to be working ALL THE TIME. Combine immense job satisfaction with workaholic tendencies, throw a smartphone into the mix and you could have a recipe set for family disaster. Because it’s your family that suffers when you’re permanently online answering this person or tweaking that post.
Or is this just me? Is it just my family who’s missing me even though I’m here? Well physically here. I’m at home with my family but with a vacant look on my face as I stare into the screen.
I have no doubt I have a smartphone addiction and my husband calls me on it often. His complaint rings out a few times a day and even my son’s started chiming into the refrain:
“Mommy’s always on the phone”.
I’m not proud of this.
I know how absent I am when I am in my creative process. I can feel myself glazing over.
I am also painfully aware of the dangers.
If I continue to focus on my online empire to the detriment of my family circle, I could lose years of my child’s life. He’s already four year’s old. Next time I look up from my phone he might be 8 or 12 or 16. He will be 20 and leaving home. I know just how quickly the years fly by with children and I don’t want to miss out on them. I only have this one chance.
I could lose my marriage. My husband may get tired of being alone in this marriage and may leave me, which would be disastrous not just for me but for both children.
Turning it Around
So I’ve been working on being more present, as a parent and a wife. Somedays are better than others.
Yesterday was one of my best days. We enjoyed the most gorgeous lazy Sunday morning. I really connected with my son, it was wonderful. My hubby was listening to us play and he congratulated me for being such a great Mom when he came downstairs to join in the fun.
Without further ado, here are my tips on how to be a better Mom even when you have other stuff to do.
How to Switch Off and Be a Better Mom
Do a Digital Detox
So how did I have one of my best days as a parent? Well, it all started with me shutting down my laptop and ignoring my phone once my son was awake so that I could focus all my attention on him.
No, let’s go back a day or two because actually, it started by me easing away from my digital life.
Going cold turkey when you have a digital addiction is not easy so I’ve found I have to do in stages. I find I have to switch off from “work-mode” before I can switch into parenting mode.
Here’s what helped me to do this:
I worked late on Friday night so that I could complete all business tasks I had planned for the week. In an online business, there’s always more stuff you could be doing but I got to a point where enough tasks were done that work wasn’t crowding my mind.
I also worked hard on Saturday with my son getting his School project done (which co-incidentally was called “My Family”) and everything packed for school on Monday. For once we were uber prepared. Early.
Tip 1: Reach a point where you declare your work is done and it’s now family time.
I did loads of house cleaning on Saturday. This ensured that I wasn’t distracted by a dirty house on Sunday plus something about housework actually helps me switch off from my website work.
I think it’s got something to do with it being physical rather than mental and perhaps also because it involves organising, tidying and cleaning. It’s very satisfying in its own way.
I even roped my son in to help me polish my car so actually, Saturday was also one of my better days as a parent.
Tip 2: Do something that takes your mind off your work. Weirdly, housework does the trick for me.
While we’re on the subject of doing something physical, this is one of the best ways to enjoy time with your children.
On Sunday morning my son asked us to have a party with him. So we switched on the radio and there we were in our pyjamas, dancing in the lounge. And even jumped on the couch. What fun! And quite a workout I must tell you.
Later on that morning, we jumped on the trampoline together, which is one of my son’s favourite pastimes. And again, great exercise for both of us. Especially as I land up being his rodeo horse for some of the time.
Often we go for walks. Or kick a ball around. Or play mini golf. Or swim. My hubby and son often wrestle together.
The point is to find something both you and your little one love doing and do it TOGETHER.
Tip 3: Do something fun and physical with your child(ren).
I’ve noticed lately that my son increasingly wants to stay home and play on the weekends rather than go out. Our lives are often so full and busy. We arrange school extramurals, play dates and outings.
Where is the time for free play?
We pack so much into their little lives when really all they want is home. Us. Meaningful connection.
And I find the moment I spend quality time with my child, I just want to hug and hold him close all the time. He is so adorable, I just can’t help myself. Of course, he’s 4 now, so he’s not always into hugs as much as I am but when you’re playing and dancing together it’s quite easy to slip in a few fun hugs.
If your child is really past the hugging phase, meaningful connection could just be that magical moment, mid-play, when you look into your child’s eyes and tell them how much you love them.
We had so much meaningful interaction yesterday that it kind of back-fired on me this morning when I had to get my son to school. He did not want to go, he just wanted to stay home and play with me all day again.
Tip 4: Find a way to connect deeply either through touch or eye contact (or both).
Be a Playmate
On the days I give myself over fully to just being a parent, I’m actually more of a playmate.
I always allow my child to lead the play. I actually let him completely boss me around, tell me what to do and how to do it. Here’s why:
- It gives him a bit of power.
- It helps him get really creative.
- And it also makes a lot easier than having to think up stuff myself.
You will be amazed at what they come up with, especially if you really allow yourself to get in their head space.
Yesterday this meant throwing a dancing party in the lounge, jumping on the couch, playing lego together, playing inside his little castle tent and jumping on the trampoline.
Kids also love it when their parents allow them to be a little bit naughty and even do naughty stuff with them – hence the jumping on the couch with him. It sounds counter-intuitive but I’ve heard from a really good source (Hand in Hand Parenting) that this can prevent real naughtiness later.
Tip 5: Let your children lead the play and be their playmate.
Give Your Undivided Attention
If you got the first step right, the digital detox, it should be pretty easy to set aside some time in your weekend or in your day when you give your child all of your attention.
And when you do that, the magic happens. The effect on your child is amazing.
For example, we hardly watched any TV yesterday. Usually, TV is the first thing he asks for in the morning. It wasn’t even a thought in my son’s mind until we had been playing for hours and we all needed a rest.
Tip 6: Be there with mind, body and soul, be fully present.
Shower Them With Love and Praise
I find when I’m giving my son my full attention I also notice myself also giving him a lot of Praise. On days like these, I tell him:
- how great he is
- how well he’s doing
- how much he’s learned
- how proud we are of him
- how lucky we are to have him in our lives
- how much we love him
These words make a child glow inside. It makes them feel special and loved and supported and safe. I know because my parents gave me the same gift and it’s these words that come to mind and their love that sustains me in tough times.
Tip 7: Be your child’s biggest fan
Over to You
What methods work best for you when you want to switch off from work and be a better Mom? Are you able to just have fun whenever, wherever? Or do you also need a digital detox before you can give yourself over to play?