Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”Mother Teresa
In this super article by our content contributor Ruby Phillips, we uncover what it means to actually be present with the kids and not just there. There’s a subtle (maybe not so subtle actually!) but important difference between being there and being present.
Ever find yourself getting home from a busy day at work and rather diving in head first in to ‘Dad duty’ you check your emails, missed calls or notifications? Ever find yourself palming off the kids with devices (I’m very guilty here!) just so you can have a bit of peace and quiet? Perhaps this becomes a habit we ned to break?
Some really helpful thoughts here on being present and why this might just be the best way to parent.
Do you find it hard to shake off your thoughts and anxieties when you’re at home with the family?
Allowing yourself to be fully present can be difficult when stress levels are high (and all you want to do is go to bed after a long day!). But, regardless, practicing being more present at home (even when you’re tired) can help you shake off some of those worries, and help you build stronger family bonds.
What Does it Mean to Be a ‘Present Parent’?
Being a ‘present parent’ essentially means time spent together being available to the best of your ability.
Spending quality time with no distractions makes children feel seen, heard and loved. It’s especially important as a modern parent, in a world where screens are taking over and seeping into family time.
This quality time is shaped by how you interact, which in turn shapes your child in the way they interact, feel and interpret the world. The more undivided attention you give to your child, the more you’ll have a part in the growth of their personality.
How to Practice Being a Present Parent
Master the art of truly being present… If this is something you find difficult, you should try practicing some mindfulness techniques. Our article: An Introduction to Mindfulness for Busy Working Dads outlines mindfulness and explains some quick techniques you can use to improve your wellbeing and relationships.
Consider reading ?: What is inner child work and how is it relevant for Dads?
Being ‘present’ sounds simple but takes a lot of work! Here are some tips:
- A conscious decision must be made to separate your work from home life. This way, when you’re around your children, you are more available for them.
- Ask yourself, when could I be more present for my kids day to day? Dinnertime around a table (not in front of the TV) is a perfect opportunity for quality time and communication. This time builds trust and makes kids feel safe and valued.
- When you’re spending time with your kids, and you find yourself checking your emails or thinking about work, notice it. When you notice it, tell yourself to put your screen away and come back to the present. Change your thoughts by switching focus to your kids, surroundings and feelings.
- Create new behavioural habits to strengthen interactions with your kids such as reading a book before bed together, singing songs when you put on shoes or brush teeth in the morning. It is as important to eradicate habits that get in the way, such as work obsessions, screen time, swearing.
Further reading: Check out our article: Positive Habit Formation for Busy Working Dads for more! The more you practice getting into the habit of switching out of your work mindset and letting go of your worries, the more you will enjoy family time!
Three Simple Ways You Can Translate This into Your Everyday Parenting:
- Eye contact. When your children are speaking, making eye contact and being at their eye level helps them to feel seen and heard.
- Boundaries. It’s important to explain to your child if and why you are too busy to give them undivided attention. This helps the child to understand that they are not the reason or ‘problem’. These boundaries are important to make it clear they can’t alwayshave undivided attention.
- Play with your kids, let yourself be silly and childish with them at every opportunity. Being cold and stern or yelling at your kids can have negative effects on their development. Being assertive when needed, but also silly and carefree, teaches your child to enjoy surroundings, people and a positive understanding of boundaries. It also gives you a chance to be an oversized child for a while!
Further viewing: Check out our video chat with Debi John about playfulness below to learn how we can all benefit from more play: