To say that moms of this generation are busy is a massive understatement. We are constantly on the go, running errands, doing housework, checking in with friends, relatives and business associates through email, texting and social media. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure you can relate, and would be able to spin off a whole list of things you had on your to-do list today that you didn't even get to.
One main problem I'm noticing during all of this hectic activity is that our kids are getting pushed to the side. We're so incredibly focused on everything that we feel we need to do that on some days, our kids don't even get the basics, like eye contact and our undivided attention while they're doing their homework.
Now, I'm certainly not sitting in judgment here -- I'm just as guilty as the next overwhelmed and stressed out mama. There are nights, after the kids are in bed and I have a quiet hour or two until I go to bed, that I sit back and reflect on the day and realize how little I connected with each of my kids. It certainly doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.
So, from time to time I need to intervene with myself and set things straight (and I'm working on incorporating more and more of these practices into my everyday life, which is my ultimate goal). Here are a few tips that help me and my family get back on track. My hope is that they'll help you, too.
1. When your kids come up to you, set aside your phone.
I know it can be our lifeline to countless important work-related emails or entertaining articles, podcasts, funny cat videos, Ebola updates and the latest on the celebrity du jour. But, we're sending a very loud and clear message to our children when we don't stop, look them in the eye and focus on them. Honestly, the conversation may only take a minute or two, but that little bit of validation that we give them goes a very long way. We let them know that they are more important to us than any viral video or James Franco selfie.
2. Take intentional technology breaks.
Set aside an entire Sunday (or any other block of time that works for you) and turn off your phone, laptop, tablet etc. Showing your kids that life does in fact go on without the Internet will teach them that they too can live a life away from technology. Plan some fun activities that take everyone's interests into consideration. Have a leisurely Sunday brunch that leads into a walk or hike together. Have some other friends or family members over for a game night (board games, charades, etc). The important thing is to connect and rely on creativity and old-fashioned fun to enjoy yourselves.
3. Take some time to think about what's really, truly important to you.
What would you miss more 10 years from now -- making sure your kids feel important, or browsing through your college boyfriend's family vacation pictures? Once you spend some time really thinking about this, it will help to put things into perspective and allow you to prioritize in an easier way. And don't get caught up with what other moms are up to... let them be further ahead on Candy Crush or whatever other game is popular while you're reading this. You have to put your priorities and your lifestyle ahead of what everyone else is up to. Be brave and stand apart from the crowd! Your kids will benefit, and so will you.
I hope these tips help you. Give them a try and see how the dynamics in your family shift. I'd love to encourage a conversation around this. It's a topic that gets overlooked, I think in part because we're caught up in the busyness of life, and we don't stop and think about how it's affecting our children, or ourselves. Please leave a comment below about your experience to share with me and other readers, and good luck!
Cozetta Lagemann is a mom of three and a Board-Certified Health and Life Coach. She is incredibly passionate about helping other moms take excellent care of themselves so they can raise happy and healthy future adults. She would love to hear from you, please visit her website www.ifmamaainthappy.net and drop her a line.