Something pretty amazing is happening at my house. My husband and I began making a conscious effort to set aside time to “unplug” from technology and spend more quality time as a family. The TV is off, cell phones are out of reach, and there’s no computer or iPad use going on during this time. And let me tell you, this is doing wonders for our family.
Technology is a wonderful tool but it’s all too easy to become consumed by it. It has a sneaky way of pulling you away from precious moments and leaves you with missed opportunities for creating special memories. Since we have begun our daily mission set aside time to “unplug,” the time I would usually spend checking my Facebook news feed, texting, or checking my email, has now been replaced with singing songs, goofing around, and tickle-fests. The background noise of the television has been replaced with music to dance to, laughter, stories, and even more “I love you’s.”
I wish I could say we just decided to do this because we realized on our own that it would be beneficial for our family, but that’s not the case. The truth is that our daughter’s behavior was raising some red flags to the point that we decided to do some research and find ways to encourage her to make better choices (follow directions, avoid tantrums, refrain from purposely becoming defiant…you get the picture).
One thing we came to realize was that she was most likely acting this way as a cry for attention, even if it was negative. Of course my first thought was, “Wow. Do I really not pay enough attention to my daughter? I must be a terrible mom if she feels she needs more attention this badly!” and then, “But we spend time together as a family every day.” Well, yes we were “together” but what I realize now is that although my husband and I may have been in the same room as our girls, we were really not “present.” And there is definitely a difference! I hate to think of the tiny moments or silly facial expressions I missed because I was too “busy.”
I recently stumbled upon this article that addresses distracted parenting and there was one part that really stuck with me:
“Kids behave better when they get our attention. Kids pay better attention themselves, when they get attention. If you want kids to listen to you, listen to them. All kids want to be good. They don’t want to be treated like pests. They don’t want to feel less important than some device in our hand or some keyboard or screen. Kids don’t need to be the center of our world and feel it all revolves around them, but they do need to feel that they are just as important as anything else in our lives.”
The reality is that we live in a world full of distractions. It’s far too easy to get sucked in without realizing that they’ve begun taking priority over what matters the most. Maybe it’s not technology that distracts you, and instead it’s the never-ending “to-do” list of household chores. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to set aside time every day to unplug from those interruptions and really give your children your undivided attention. Everything else can wait just a little bit longer.