What’s Keeping You from Being Fully Present?
If you examine your life closely and honestly, how often do you give your kids the gift of your presence? For most of my career, my job has required a lot of my time and energy. Most of us know first-hand that working a full-time 40 hour/week job is rarely actually 40 hours/week. If you’re an entrepreneur, your work easily can become your life. If your job is full-time caregiver for your kids, you’re on call 24/7. We’ve accepted that this is the way it is, and that it is, therefore, ok. What is harder to accept is that most of us make choices that allow that kind of “all-consuming-spills-into-the-rest-of-my-life” work to be our reality.
One big problem with this is that when your work spills into the rest of your life, it also spills on your relationships. And then add the time you’re spending on devices on top of your work, and your level of presence is probably less than you think. You may be spending a lot of time physically with your kids, but ask yourself, “Am I really present?” As I look back, I know I was not as present as I could have been during some periods of my kids’ childhood. And with only a couple of exceptions, it was because of the choices I made. What is keeping you from being fully present?
How You Show Up Matters
Research says that “one of the very best predictors for how any child turns out—in terms of happiness, social and emotional development, leadership skills, meaningful relationships, and even academic and career success—is whether they developed security from having at least one person who showed up for them” (from The Power of Showing Up by Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson). How you show up with and for your kids matters.
When you’re fully present with your kids, they get the message they are a priority for you. They develop a greater sense of safety and security, which enables them to thrive now and into adulthood.
It doesn’t take a lot of time, energy, or money. Instead, showing up means offering a quality of presence. -Dr. Siegel
The Presents Presence You Give
This holiday season, the best present you can give your kids, and the other people in your life, is your presence. Instead of focusing on buying presents, focus on making a habit of being present. Since we know that kids also like things you buy for them and you probably enjoy giving them these things, you can put gifts on your list that give you the opportunity to be present with them in fun, imaginative, messy or educational ways.
Gift Guide: 5 Ways to Give Your Kids the Gift of Your Presence
- Decide this is a priority for you and make a commitment. Writing it down and/or telling someone about your commitment will make it more likely you will follow through.
- Plan for “Present Time.” Actually schedule time on your calendar and set an alarm. If you are someone that thrives with To-Do lists, add it to your list, daily, and make yourself check it off like you would your other To-Do list items. If you are able to schedule it at the same time every day (or most days), do that. Most kids thrive on routines, it will create some certainty in a very uncertain time and will help you make presence a habit.
- Put Your Devices Down. You can’t be present with someone when you’re also attending to a device, period.
- Spend your “Present Time” in both structured and unstructured ways. Your “Present Time” should include fun, imaginative, messy, unstructured play, games, conversations and even chores that are done routinely.
- Meet your kids where they are. What I mean by that is join them in their space, with a child-like mindset and let them lead you through play. Take this time to notice and try to understand how they see and experience their world.
In a world of hurry, fear, and competition, I am here to tell you raising successful children has more to do with our presence than it has to do with racing them to the next “enrichment” activity or helping them memorize flash cards. Arguably the single best thing you can do for children’s minds and emotional development is to simply enjoy your relationship with them. –The Mom Psychologist
Feel Well, Be Well, Do Well and Practice Presence!