“Mommy can you play with me now,” my daughter asked for the fourth time. For the forth time I tell her,” just let mommy finish with this, ” or “right after I’m done with this.” But recently, those times of promised play never came. For several months now I have been blowing off my children’s request to play. It was not intentional. I was wrapped up in other things that, at the time, seemed important. I figured I would find the time later, but each day was eaten up by “other things,” and play time never came.
Feeling exasperated and overly busy, I came to recognize a trend in myself. On line I found an arictle that discussed ways to tell if you are too busy. One in particular stood out to me.
“You are too busy when… those closest to you have stopped asking for your time.”
That is when it hit me. I have not been hearing the requests to play from my children anymore. As this concept dawned on me I was overcome with shame for what I have done. My children where my priority. They were where I wanted to be all the time. They were my life. Not the computer, not the dishes, not my cake business. I was wasting my precious time with them being consumed by other much less important things. When did I get to the point that there pleas to play fell on deaf ears? This had to change.
My daughter is now 8 years old. There is only a few more years where she will even want to play with me and here I was squandering that time with her. I had to fix this now. So here are three things I have done to be more aware of my childrens needs and be less busy with distractions.
- Get Up Early – I use to do this last year, but sleep got the better of me. A few missed early morning wake-ups become a half asleep, un-restful enterprise of tossing and turning in the hopes of getting an extra five minutes. I decided to be more intentional about getting up and getting things accomplished before my children are up, so that I would have more time to spend with them in a less hurried and distracted way
- Schedule In Playtime – Set a timer if you must, but make an appointment with your children. A date night, a mommy and me day, a play date, but schedule in this time so it becomes just as important (or more so.) as everything else in your day
- Stop! Put down the phone, get off the computer and listen to what they are saying –This is where the majority of my shame is coming from. My kids are only seeing part of my face hidden behind a computer screen. They are only staring at the top of my head, while I answer another text. I am distracted. They are not getting my full attention…and they know it.
Going forward when I get home from work, the phone goes off; the laptop gets put away until they are in bed. Whatever emergency might take place there are other ways I can be reached and the world will not stop spinning if I don’t answer that email until tomorrow. It can wait. My children cannot. They are my heart that lives outside my body and they deserve my time, energy and presence more than anyone or anything else.