It’s not always easy to disconnect from the world and reconnect with your children, but there are a few things you can do to stop being a distracted parent.
I keep running into the phrase “distracted parenting” and it hits me right where it hurts; even when I am with my daughter I am often focused elsewhere. I have been working 24/7 and I do a lot of work on my phone and laptop – from emails to updating social media to researching and writing articles.
I found myself doing this when my daughter was playing, when she was curled on my lap watching a show and even when I was breastfeeding her. And then I noticed her competing for my attention against the phone in my hand. It broke my heart and I decided to change.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing easy about disconnecting myself from the world or my work or my never-ending to do list. I don't have the answer on how to stop being a distracted parent, but I have a few things I'm trying, starting with ignoring my phone at certain times and physically connecting with my daughter.
1. Starting the day right
I co-sleep with my daughter and she is my little alarm clock; she reaches over and strokes my face when she opens her eyes and starts babbling away to me, before climbing over me to get down onto the floor and start playing.
Until recently, I would kiss her on her way over and then start checking my email, messages and social media on my phone. My very first change when I realised what I was doing was to leave the phone exactly where it is in the morning and start my day snuggling, playing with and reading to my baby girl.
2. Late afternoon love
My mom watches Charlotte from 08.30am to 3.30pm during the week so I can work. Ending work at 3.30pm seems like cheating to me, but my little girl has me alone from 3.30 until 5pm when Daddy gets home. Most days I used to put Curious George on the TV and continued to work.
This was another of the first things to go. My laptop is now left in my office and my cellphone put in another room to prevent all temptation. I get down onto the carpet with her, do puzzles and play dance with her princesses or racing games with her cars and horses. I hold her and tickle her and talk to her and listen to her and do my very best to think about nothing else and be in the moment.
3. Ending the day together
No phone at all when feeding my daughter to sleep. My phone sound is off and I put it behind me where the light won’t distract me or her; I stroke her hair and her face and listen to her breathing and watch how her eyes flutter as she drifts off. This is becoming my favourite time of the day.
Do you struggle to disconnect from technology and connect with your children?