“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
Have you ever been distracted? If you’re like me (a human) you have probably experienced several occasions when you were somewhere physically and yet you were not at all present mentally or emotionally. A few weeks ago, I drove my oldest son to a nearby park so that we could spend some quality time together; however, within minutes of arriving at the park I, just out of pure habit, pulled out my smart phone to check a few e-mails (Instagram as well if I’m being honest). While this may seem innocent enough, as we were leaving the park it dawned on me that I had already been at work (away from my son) most of that day and, here’s where my stomach began to sink a little bit, I had just used valuable time that I had to invest in one-on-one time with my son to do more work.
Work isn’t bad.
Ignoring your child that wants nothing more than for you to notice him is.
Here I am everybody… Yeaup! It’s me… worst parent of the year.
Of course, I wrote that last line tongue-in-cheek, but seriously – I felt such a deep sadness in that moment. I told myself that I would never let that happen again and yet the unfortunate reality is that I most likely will. In a world that is begging for our attention, the most valuable asset that we possess is our time. Learning how to be present wherever we are, especially with our kids, is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a tension to be managed. So, here’s some grace for parents – we don’t have to win with our kids all the time, but we should aim to win with them most of the time. In fact, many family care professionals agree that a healthy ratio is 70/30. That is, if we are winning with our kids at least 70% of the time than we are winning! So, here are five helpful suggestions to help you learn the art of being present so that you can begin winning where it matters most:
- Be All-In + Whenever you plan to be somewhere or with someone, decide ahead of time that you are going to be all-in. By doing this, you are preparing yourself to be focused on the full potential of each moment.
- Breathe + Sometimes the most important thing you can do to “check-into-the-moment” is to take a second and breathe. Of course – you are continually breathing to live, but when you take just a few seconds to notice yourself it can bring you back into the present moment.
- Be Intentionally Proactive + For many of us, glancing at a phone or smartwatch has become second nature. If you know you will be tempted to focus your attention on your device instead of your child, then leave your phone somewhere else (in the car, on top of the fridge, etc).
- Enlist Your Family + Share your goal of focusing more on the family with your family. They will love to call you out when you slip up!
- Be Involved + Wherever you are – whether with your children, spouse or at work- the best way to stay present is to get involved through active listening, asking questions and putting yourself into the middle of whatever is going on.