"The No. 1 thing I hear in my parenting classes when I ask kids: "If you could change one thing in your family, what would it be?' They say: 'That my mom and dad would spend more time with us and we'd have more fun family time. That we'd go on vacation together, that we'd play games together.'
"They say they're always so busy and so stressed. The No. 1 stressor for kids is how stressed their parents are. This constant checking of devices and being on the computer, we don't even realize how charged up we get with all this stuff until we stop. It all goes back to mindful parenting." Lowcountry Parent, Social Media and the Family (emphasis added)
The part about "mindful parenting" is interesting, since I also recently read this article, questioning that practice. As has been the case for ages, you can find advice pointing you in different directions with equal passion.
The question is, which way are you going to go?
I want to go the way of being more engaged with my kids, and less distracted by the endless, mindless scroll of my Pinterest, Facebook, whatever feed.
In the last few days, that has mostly involved simply leaving my phone alone. My goal is for my boys NOT to come in from the backyard to find me standing in the kitchen scrolling. Or if I am holding my phone, I want to be able to explain some legitimate activity: "I'm texting Daddy to see when he can be home." or "I'm finishing one work thing and will be done in just a minute." It's not that they can't see me engaged with technology, or that my focus must be on them 100% of the time. My goal is for there to be a good reason why my eyes are trained on something other than what is four dimensional, breathing, and in front of me. Sometimes that 4-D, huffing and puffing little creature needs to understand that Mommy is busy. No doubt. But I've decided that if I am unavailable, I'd better be busy with something worthwhile. There should be some reassurance that I will return to being available - what should be my default state - soon.
Because isn't that what the kids are saying in that first paragraph? They want their parents to be available. At this young age, children miraculously actually want to spend time with us. There is no filter. They share every thought, to the point where I've actually said to my particularly chatty child, "Can you please stop talking for just one minute?"
One day, they will. Quite naturally. The filter will kick in, friends will become way cooler and more important that Mom and Dad, and the idea of a family vacation will induce a sigh and an eye roll. And then, it may be too late for me to convince my boys that I am available. I want you to talk to me. I am listening. I am paying attention. Your thoughts are important to me. Yeah, right.