Your mind is spinning – you've got a million things to get done, half a million of them are priorities, oh, and your kids are growing faster than you thought possible. You read about “being present” and “enjoying the moment” and “living for today” but how the heck do you do that when you really just want 10 minutes to yourself to clear your head?
Put Down the To Do List
I don't have a magical answer for you, but as a work at home mom I've had to practice finding ways to set down the to do list and become present with my kids. I have a few simple ideas to share. When I remember to do these things it helps me be present and focus energy on what matters most to me in my busy life.
My to do list will never be done, but my kids will grow up.
7 Tips for Hugging Your Kids Instead of Your To Do List:
1. Take a deep breath and notice the details of the moment – When your mind is spinning, but you want to bring yourself into the moment, try taking a breath (or ten) and noticing: what is your child saying? How does her voice sound? How does she move? What do you want to remember about the way she is right now?
Karen P. – When it all gets to be too much, STOP and play or get outside, breath, take five, reflect and chill. The rest will follow and will get done quicker and better when everyone happy.
2. Use a timer – We have a big list here of ways to connect with kids of all ages in ten minute special times.
Claire S. – Make the play time a priority and set a timer so you know it's only 15 or 20 or 30 minutes. The kids are worth the time investment. You can also say to them “wow I really want to play with you and (not “but”) I also need to do a chore so let's play for 15 minutes and then together we can (fold laundry, etc).” Then during and after folding laundry, reiterate how glad you are to have had the chance to play and thank the child for helping with work. “When we all work together we get the job done.”
I know, easier said than done. But your time with kids is short lived and the chores are never ending and you are modeling for THEM to put RELATIONSHIPS first before work, right?
3. Choose small rituals that help you connect every day – the way you hug good morning, a silly song you clean up time in the afternoon, goodnight kisses.
- Try having one or two easy dinner rituals to let you connect at dinner time, without being a big hassle.
- Select a conversation starter question for after kids get home from school.
- Figure out a couple favorite family games that don't take long to give you a quick fun thing to do at a moment's notice.
4. Head out of the house
Kristal K. – I get out of the house…easier to play when the dishes and laundry aren't staring at me:)
5. Involve your kids in household tasks – working together gives your kids a chance to contribute to the family and gives you a chance to talk while you work. Sometimes in order to get this help I'll only ask one kid at a time, making it special time together rather than ‘everybody has to help now.'
Kristie S. – Get the kids involved as much as possible. They don't always need to play or entertainment. They need you, so teach them to help. Let the rest of it go.
6. Write down the To Dos as a braindump – In her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Shulte talks about the fact that the to do list will never go away. You can write it down to get it all out of your head, but there will always be more to do – so think of writing it down as clearing mental space rather than making a list that must be finished before you connect with your kids.
When you have that list to go back to, you can take time away from being busy with your work and know you won't forget what you need to do when you come back to it.
7. Include your family in the discussion – let your kids and if you have a partner also let them know how much you want to have a connected family and what your struggles are with juggling the to-dos and the downtime.
Jillian Riley, from A Mom With a Lesson Plan – who has a great post on everyday ways to connect with your family wrote this insightful comment about juggling work and play:
We've been talking a lot about this actually. I was feeling like I wasn't getting credit for the “present” times. We sat down as a family and talked about what will work for everyone. The interesting thing was my son said he wanted me to work when they go to bed… Hubby immediately said no. (of course) It opened the conversation and showed them both that I can't be everywhere for everyone.
We worked out a plan that worked for everyone and for the past couple of days it's been a world of difference. My son even said, “Mom, I'm going to play Lego's for a while. Do you want to work now?” I think having a say in the plan has helped everyone feel good about me juggling work and play.
Stop making it an If-Then scenario.
If we always make our life around this scenario: “If I get this done, THEN I can focus on my kids.” then we never feel satisfied that we've taken care of what really matters in our hearts. Bills need to be paid, the house cleaned, dinner made, but family must also be nurtured. That's life – it's messy and beautiful and, thankfully, not finished yet.
Hug your kids, not your to do list.