Many times in our efforts to keep mom life simple you forget that you also want life to be meaningful. That requires living in the present with your kids. You are wondering how you can accomplish that without adding another thing to your To Do List, am I right? I am really excited to share with you my 5 tips on living int he present with kids!
How many times a day do you say “smile” or hold that pose, or reach for your camera/phone to capture a moment? Directly afterwards you take time to plaster it all over social media pages. Any moment not caught on camera and spread all over instagram, FB, and Twitter, is sacrilege! I want to ask you a few questions?
Have you ever looked at the amount of time you spend capturing, posting them all over social media, texting, and emailing these moments, posting them to the absolute most trendy new photo app on the internet? Then the moment you click send, submit, or post you have this sense of accomplishment. Wait until everyone sees how spectacularly original, cute, and brilliant your family is! Fast forward ten minutes. POOF! That feeling is gone and you are searching for the next shareable moment. Ten minutes following your post you are already thinking about what your next FB status update is going to be.
Once those moments have past, what is left? Memories of you posting those moments of your life, but not really the moments themselves. So, what happens after days, weeks, months of this lifestyle?
Quite simply, you are living for the next big FB high and reliving the past moments through social media. Your mind is not focused on living in the present with your kids. The moments are captured, true, but it is your mind’s focus on making those memories and the detraction of making those memories truly memorable and rewarding for a lifetime that has been lost. Living behind a camera, but never really taking in the whole landscape with your eyes. Soaking in the details, the colors, the smells, the feelings, the textures has become a thing of the past for most of us.
Yikes! What If…
Remember that meme trend, “At the end of my life, “I wish I had worked harder longer hours,” said no one ever.” How many people at the end of their lives would say, “I wish I had spent more time focused on taking pictures of my kids?” Unless you are a photographer, I am guessing no one would. You will have wished you spent more time living in the present. I too have been guilty of spending too much time worrying about preserving every moment with photos. You are not alone.
Now imagine that there has been a house fire, flood, hurricane, or some other catastrophe that has ruined all of those photos or the technology they are store on. Are those moments gone? Maybe. The interesting part is, that what truly sticks with you are the moments you devoted truly living in the present without any distractions; completely absorbed in that moment and soaking in every aspect.
This has never been more true than with your kids. Living in the present with your kids is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your children.
We are Disney passholders and we visit Disney a LOT! So, I have been on both sides of this situation. I have been both the parent who is so busy taking photos to capture the magic, that I miss the moment completely, and the person who watches how often I see parents so busy living “behind the lens” or worrying about completing everything on the list that they miss living the moment with their kids entirely. These parents don’t have a genuine memory of the moment. The memory they have is of them capturing a moment.
However, what can make those moments meaningful for everyone is our inclusion of ourselves, whole heartedly. Living in the moment with your kids, truly seeing with your own eyes, not the lens of your camera phone the utter joy, amazement, silliness, exhaustion, etc of that moment. At the end of your life do your really think you will say, “I really regret not taking that one picture of Elizabeth in a tree?” (said no one ever)
The truth is, you will wish you had lived in the present with your kids when they were kids, and they will likely wish you had as well.
Once I realized I was doing this and missing the most meaningful part of the journey, I knew it was time to make a change both for me and my children; my husband and I needed to find a way to focus on living in the present with our kids everyday, not just for our benefit, but that our kids would learn to do the same and not miss out on the best parts of life.
One of my life goals is to raise my kids to enjoy life and be genuinely happy people. This means not only telling and modeling what is important, but living it in the moment; living in the present with my kids and them wanting to live in present with me as well. (this is so difficult in the teen years, I know). So how could I accomplish this?
It took time, but I developed a life focus for living the adventure of life with my kids in the present. I developed 5 rules to assure that living in the present with kids (other family and friends too!) would always be a priority.
Now, that I no longer have and kids that are younger than adolescence living in my home, I find it ever so rewarding when they reminisce about memories we made because I chose to live in the present with them. Oh how I love when they bring up those lovely moments about why mom’s head popped off and bounced all over the walls. (true story more often than I care to recall.)
I did promise a list of 5 of my favorite tips for living in the present with kids, but before I get there I want to share one more little moment with you.
One More Sidebar–>
Recently my son had 2 hockey tournaments located very far from our Florida haven; one was located in Minneapolis (coldest weather we have ever experienced!) and one in Colorado Springs. My kids were excited, not just because of the destinations, but because this opportunity meant one thing…ROAD TRIP! Yup, our family genuinely loves road trips. We travel in our RV as often as possible, but these road trips were destined for our lovely and dedicated Flo…our Prius. Super small car cramped with hockey gear, a big cooler, and all our luggage.
We actually choose this form of travel as often as possible. When I share this with people, the typical response is of shock and awe. Why? They can’t imagine being trapped in a vehicle for hours on end with their family. For our family it means tons of memories in the making. Truly living in the present with each other in a tuna can.
Without further ado…
5 Tips for Living in the Present with Kids
- Listen without distraction. When you are talking with your kids, talk with your kids. Do not text, check social media, or email your check book or anything else that detracts from giving them your full undivided attention. Instead, come to a break point. Focus on them whole heartedly. In this article, Dr. Carl E. Pickhardt explains why listening undistracted to your teens is so important.
- Always choose your kids first. At any given moment it will be the only time when your kids are that. It will be the only moment they have that exact experience. If you don’t make the conscious choice to stop and focus on that moment with your kids, it will be gone for ever. As I have illustrated here, even the smallest most mundane moment could be the memory of a lifetime!
- Put your camera (phone) down! Learn to discern a true photo opportunity from one that causes you to miss the true experience. Your kids are not going to care whether or not there is a photo of them making a funny face in front of Mt Rushmore or scoring the game winning goal. However you all miss out when you choose to let your camera be the focus of a memory in the making instead of the actual experience. Be selective.
- Set some boundaries for regular family activities. We now have a one screen rule when we all sit down to a family movie. No phones, tablets, laptops, or handheld games allowed. Implementing this one rule has truly changed those little segments of family time into some of the greatest memories. Mom bonus, I guarantee you won’t ever wish you hadn’t missed the latest tweet from your neighbor, but you will regret not being present in those moments with your kids after they fly the coup!
- Turn off your phones during family time. There are times in our lives when true family time isn’t as often as we would like or inclusive of every family member, so when you do have the opportunity to have those designated or planned activities (even if it is just a sit down family meal) the phone is a constant distraction for everyone. You will be amazed at how powerful the feeling of phone freedom is and how much more your entire family will value that time together without the temptation or distraction of the phone for that short period of time.
Simple tips in theory, but they may take time to adjust to, especially with teens who have just as strong an addiction to their phones as we do. The application and commitment to keeping up with these tips can and will be challenging at times. This does not mean that our family doesn’t have photos that have captured moments. I do take photos whenever I get the chance. This is true. Now, this is second to actually living in the present with my kids. That always takes precedence!
Get out there and live in the moment with your kids with these 5 tips! You will be so happy you did and you will be teaching your children a priceless life skill.