I will never forget the moment when my 3-year old daughter Audrey said to me, “Mommy, put your phone down!!” And this was after I already said I would do whatever she had requested in 5 MORE minutes. It was at that moment that it hit me how what I was doing, or in this case, not doing was affecting her — negatively affecting her.
As mothers, we often have lots of household rules and expectations for our children but this experience made me realize that I needed to raise the bar and establish some new rules for myself. I had allowed myself to get distracted by something that was not important, and I know this to be true because honestly, I cannot recall what I was even doing. That light-bulb day was a great reminder to me that I needed to put my phone away permanently and just focus on my two wonderful children. There was no reason to check social media, Facebook Messenger, a missed text message or anything. It could and would wait.
The time I have with them, right here, right now is a blessing. Every opportunity I have to spend with my children is a gift and being present at that very moment for them and myself is immeasurable.
I want to just soak up every second I have with them as they will only be this little for such a short time. My daughter may be stuck in the “I’m scared” and the “Why” phase today, but tomorrow may introduce a totally different phase. I am making a conscious decision to be intentional with how I spend my time with my children. They deserve to have my full, undivided attention and not have a mother who is preoccupied with energy zappers and time wasters such as social media and looking at her cell phone constantly.
Don’t get me wrong, I may snap a few photos or video from time to time (we all need evidence for keepsake books and pictures for our extended family that live out of town), but I really enjoy the days when I reflect on our day and realize I have no photos from the day. For example, we recently had a picnic in our minivan before we saw a theatre show. I didn’t taint the experience by pulling out my cell phone to take photos. I have no pictures of my daughter’s excitement when she helped make Rice Krispies treats with me after her nap or the mess on the kitchen floor of Rice Krispies that missed the bowl. For me, I found that oftentimes it is more enjoyable when I don’t pause to capture some photos and instead just be fully present in that moment. It is so easy to get caught up and be so obsessed trying to capture a moment that prevents you from enjoying that moment as much.
Psychology Today describes mindfulness as a state of active, open attention on the present. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. As mothers, let us strive to have an active state of open attention on our children in the present, as they are now, for tomorrow they will be different. And all too soon, they will no longer be children, but adults with potential children of their own. Hopefully, they will model the mindful parenting that they received as children and not have to hear the plea, “Mommy, put your phone down.”