Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Let’s be honest, the past seven months as a parent during this pandemic have been a roller coaster. A lot of ups and downs, going sideways, forwards and backwards and a whole lot of thinking on your feet. You’re probably mentally and physically exhausted.
October is mental health awareness month and I strongly believe that your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. I recently discovered how being present with my kids can have a really positive impact on my mental state. We’re not only spending more time together, but now we’re spending more quality time together.
Time has taken on a whole new meaning. I’ll admit that our lives were so over scheduled pre-pandemic. I was always in motion - driving to-from work, driving kids to-from school, going from meeting to meeting, driving kids to-from activities, traveling for work, traveling for vacation (what a foreign concept now!) that I never had a chance to pause and realize just how fast time was passing. I previously wrote about taking your time and that has really been beneficial for helping me realize the power of being present with my kids and partner.
Now it isn’t always easy. There are days when I get really frustrated with my kids. Like when my older son “forgets” to log back in for his next class, or has misplaced an important paper to finish his homework, or when my youngest keeps running around the table instead of staying in his chair to eat his meal with us!
But trust me, be patient and you’ll see just how powerful being present can truly be.
How Your Child Benefits
Your child feels they matter - When you take the time to be there fully, they notice the difference. All the toys and gifts in the world will never replace spending quality time with mom, dad, grandma or grandpa.
Your child expresses more - Being fully present allows you to ask more questions and give your child an opportunity to share more what they are thinking and perhaps some of the joys and worries they have.
Your child feels less lonely - If your child is distance learning, your child doesn’t have their teacher or friends sitting in the same room with them which can feel pretty isolating. When you’re fully present with your child, you help fill that void of connection that they are seeking that they used to have with their friends at school.
Your child will be less attention seeking - Being fully present makes the time you spend together with your child more meaningful and they may be more understanding when you have to finish something else and need time alone.
How You as the Parent or Caregiver Benefits
You become a better listener - Being fully present allows you to listen more and hear things your kids are trying to tell you, but you were too distracted before to hear. When kids don’t have a chance to express themselves, they keep things inside and may have outbursts later.
You’ll feel less guilty - By being more present and making the time you spend together more meaningful, when you're working or doing something else, you will experience less guilt from being away from your kids.
Your brain will feel less cluttered - By focusing just on the present moment, you give your brain a break to truly enjoy the moment with your child.
You'll smile more - You’ll start to really enjoy your time together and truly feel that there isn’t anywhere else in the world you want to be at that moment. With no distractions, your mind and body can just be there with your child, doing whatever you're doing.
Now it's great to know why this helps, but how can you be more present?
Tips for Being More Present
Be spontaneous - Ask your child, "Do you want to play with me?" They'll feel so happy you asked them instead of you always telling them “Not right now,” when they ask *you* to play. If they want to play freeze tag, run with them and really try to catch them (though be careful!) If they want a pretend tea party, honor that.
Be kind - Use the time to nurture your child and model what it’s like to be present, and they’ll reflect it back to you. Build them up and they'll return the favor to you.
Leave your phone out of sight - Being present means your child has your undivided attention. Not having your phone there means you’ll be less tempted to think about how you’ll respond to a particular work email or check social media.
Put it on your calendar - Our days are still filled even during these Covid-19 days. We may be less over-scheduled than pre-pandemic, but setting aside dedicated time on your calendar has two benefits. First, you're more likely to do it because you've scheduled it and two, having it on your calendar is a good reminder and something you can look forward to. You can put our Family Yoga class on your calendar to dedicate time to exercise and bond together.
Make family meal time sacred - A lot of research shows that eating more meals together as a family can help kids eat better, as well as help kids get better grades. During our SpringSpot Kids Camps, we encourage home and family activities like Dinner Time discussion prompts to get the whole family talking together.
Do it every day - Just like any habit you want to keep, you have to do it every day. Whether it’s for 10 minutes or 50 minutes, make it count. Do it every day and you’ll start seeing the benefits for you and your child(ren).
As you can see, being present with your kids is truly the best gift you can give them.
If you’d like more ideas or opportunities to be more present with your kids, join us for an upcoming live Family Yoga Class or enroll your child in our Online Kids Wellness Camps. Woven throughout our camps are social emotional activities such as family dinner time discussions to practice being mindful together as a family.
Our next session Nature Explorers starts Nov 3rd. Kids will explore nature in all it's beauty and splendor! Kids will create their own Fall Farm and learn about farm to table, fall recipes, and what makes nature so wondrous! Plus kids will practice self reflection and learn about being responsible.
May you be more present with your family and start enjoying the benefits today!