I’ll never forget my ninth birthday.
My mom took my sister and I out to dinner at our regular restaurant, and we sat in the corner booth that practically had our name engraved on it. Food, dessert, and a couple of gifts later, my mom said that she had one more gift for me that wasn’t wrapped.
“What is it?” I asked.
In that moment, she became very serious, yet shot me a soft smile.
“Exactly what you asked for,” she said.
I was confused at first, but then she filled me in.
You see, for about a year, my mom worked for a company that required her to travel quite often. And when she wasn’t traveling, she would come home from her office at dinnertime and continue to work tirelessly on her laptop all night long.
I never really saw her. And when I did, she wasn’t really there. She wasn’t present. I couldn’t even tell you what exactly her job was. Frankly, I didn’t care.
About a month or so prior to my birthday, after a nearly silent “family dinner” as my mom typed away on her laptop the whole time, she asked me what I wanted as a gift for my birthday.
“For you to quit your job,” I snapped as I rolled my eyes and cleared my plate.
And that’s exactly what she gave me.
My mom took pretty extreme measures. She noticed that she wasn’t being the best parent she could be, and she knew I knew that, too. Distracted parenting comes in all shapes and sizes, and specific solutions to the problem vary depending on the family and situation.
Disclaimer: I don’t suggest that all parents quit their jobs!
However, sometimes we don’t recognize how we’re behaving until we experience a rude awakening, and then we consider the changes we can make. Since this month is all about straightening out priorities and taking time to enjoy them, October presents an opportunity for us to focus on our family.
For most of us, family is something we hold near and dear to our hearts. But perhaps sometimes we take our family for granted or don’t hone in on those close relationships.
Of all relationships to zone out on, a parent-child one is not one to be messed with. Getting distracted as a parent is common and understandable, but lucky for you, we’re here to help you focus on your growing children and connect with your parenting experience.
I have one overarching piece of advice to help you conquer any bit of distracted parenting: Eliminate distractions. It’s as easy at that! In other words, be present.
We all know what it feels like to be around or have a conversation with someone who you can tell really just isn’t that into the interaction. You feel unimportant and ignored – a feeling that children shouldn’t have to ever feel about their parents.
Being present doesn’t necessarily mean being in-person 24/7. Parents are busy. They have jobs, responsibilities, things they have to get done.
But when all those things are completed for the day, make sure to spend valuable time with your children. Dedicate the time you have around your children solely to them. Have meaningful conversations and do activities together that you both enjoy
When they speak, listen to them and respond thoughtfully. When they ask questions, answer quickly and helpfully.
No matter how time-strapped you are, even if you only have one hour to spend with your children a day, make that hour count. Children will remember one meaningful hour with their mom or dad more so than a day of distracted attention. Quality over quantity, right? That phrase certainly applies here.
I never minded that my mom worked long hours and traveled often. I understood. The difficult part was when she was home because she might as well have not been.
In my case, my mom’s job was the main source of distraction. But there are so many things, big and small, that can get in the way of you being the best parent to your child. I hope you take time to smell the roses in your family and conquer distracted parenting through being present.
As a parent, how do you eliminate the distractions? We want to hear your story.
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