I am a father of three kids, aged 4 and below as well as a divorced/separated for over one year. Before the separation, I stayed at home with the kids every day.
I am also a co-founder of an Internet travel startup and CEO of a company with 30+ colleagues. I don’t tell you this because I think I am great, simply because I am Internet enabled with devices from smart phones, iPads, wifi enabled monitors/TV’s all over the place with pressures on my time and how I spend it. My life can feel like I have more things todo than time, probably like yours.
The one key to being present with children is to turn off or put away all devices. Look at the children and engage. It’s become a daily meditation: my time with my kids. I have the kids 50% of the days and am lucky to be able to focus on just them, when they are with me.
5 key tips to being present with children
1) Turn off or put away all smartphones, iPads, tv etc. for as much of the day as possible.
2) Focus your attention on the child and what is important to them. I’m lucky, in that my kids love to dance and be active.
3) When you find your mind wandering, or perhaps getting a bit bored, think about the limited time you have on this planet and with your children. Time flies and they will be adults one day and just not pay attention to you the parent as much. Be grateful for the time that you have now. A key to being present in general.
4) Plan your time, especially with less than 5 years old since they need more attention. Have several activities ready to go when their interests wane. I use art, cooking, dancing, cuddling, blocks and building, and going to the park as my standbys. This keep the kids interested and engaged as they can have short attention spans!
5) When 5 minutes of peace does happen, and they are reading a book quietly and not all over your grill, I take that time for myself to recoup, or often time, get my daily dump in. This is much more injoyable without my twins wanting to be in the bathroom at the same time to brush their teeth etc.
I ask myself, am I weak, or am I strong today? Can I focus and not “multi-task” with other devices when I am with my children? The thought of me setting a bad example for them, scares me away from being weak and wanting to “check messages” or some other thing that gives me that short rush.
Just like ourselves, we watched what our Parents did, and ignored what they said. Actions speak, Words are cheap.
Day 4: Teach us something that you do well. Via the Your Turn Challenge