Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Staying Present with my Kids

Our boys are outside eating popsicles and running around with a friend, so I thought I would take a moment to jot down some thoughts I am having.
Micah brought it to my attention yesterday that I haven’t been very present with my children lately, and he’s right. At first I tried to defend myself by explaining that I am trying the best I can with what little time I have, that I am with my boys all day long, every day, and that I have needs that are important, too. All of these things are true, yet this past month I’ve been going about it all wrong.
I have a tendency to get really distracted and consumed with things, and if I’m not careful, it starts to take away from my family.
I want to present two true scenarios that might be helpful in explaining my situation.

First scenario: I wake up at 6am to the sound of my four year old yelling to me from his bed because he’s had an accident in his sheets. I roll out of bed and get to the boys room to help him out of bed, put his soiled clothes in the hamper, and start him in a warm shower. My six year old is on the couch reading a book so I say good morning to him briefly before I notice that the bathroom trash is full. I take the trash to the kitchen, then notice the counters are still dirty from last night. I clean the counters off then notice there’s dust on windowsill, so I quickly wipe it off. I then see that my camera is on the table and stop to look at the pictures I took yesterday. My six year old asks me a question about his book but I can’t stop because I’m now thinking about the soiled clothes in the hamper, so I tell him to hold on. I haul the hamper outside to the washer where I notice the recycle box is full, so then I bag up the recyclables and place them in the back of the car. While I’m in the back of the car I see that my church bag is still sitting there from Sunday so I grab it and take it into the house to clean it out. I empty the contents on the kitchen table and then remember that I never called Sister Santos about our activity next week for Young Womens. I pick up the phone to call her then realize it’s 6:15am and too early to call so I quickly run to the back room to write her an email. While I’m on the computer writing an email I remember my 4 yr old is still in the shower so I quickly go turn it off. He asks me for a towel and I quickly tell him to please get his own because I’m in the middle of something important. I finish writing my email, then look to see that my toddler is up and collecting toys from around the house. He comes to me for milkies but I turn him away because the boys are getting hungry and I haven’t even made breakfast yet! I convince him to go to the kitchen and find a toy, while I quickly say my morning prayers. As I’m praying I remember I forgot to email my friend Breanna about the Babywearing meetup, so I quickly end my prayers and turn the computer back on. As I’m finishing my email on facebook I notice my other friend posted new pictures from her kayaking trip on Kauai and I am now looking at those. My six year old comes in and asks when I’m going to start breakfast and I tell him exasperated, “As soon as I can!” I then realize I haven’t brushed my teeth yet so I put on some clothes and brush my teeth, then notice my eyebrow hairs are getting too crazy, so I start to pluck them, after-all it only takes a second. As I finish plucking I notice my jewelry is disorganized, so I quickly organize it again in its box. My husband is leaving for work now so we do a quick family prayer, then I give him a quick kiss and goodbye.
Finally I find myself back in the kitchen where the table is cluttered with the contents of my church bag! I feel irritated and start to quickly clean it up, mumbling under my breath about all the messes around the house. I get breakfast on the table, and then tell the boys it’s time to do our morning chores. Toddler starts to scream and cry, then the boys start whining at me and complaining , so I shout at them with frustration,” I’ve been working hard ALL MORNING, the least you guys can do is get your important things done!”

They look at me with confused, sad eyes. I look at them with overwhelming frustration. I feel resentful and unsettled, and go back to my room for a computer break. I don’t even realize that I’ve spent the entire morning neglecting them and pushing them aside for other things.

Second scenario: I wake up at 6am to the sound of my four year old yelling to me from his bed because he’s had an accident in his sheets. I roll out of bed and get to the boys room to help him out of bed, put his soiled clothes in the hamper, and start him in a warm shower. While he’s in the shower I go sit with my six year old who is reading a book on the couch. We give each other morning hugs and kisses, and I answer any questions he has about his reading. My toddler gets up out of bed and happily runs into the living room. He climbs onto my lap and we have some morning milkies, and cuddle time. After a few minutes I get up and turn off my four year olds shower. I get him a towel and wrap him up in it. He snuggles up to me and giggles in my ears. He smells so yummy and makes me want to squeeze him more! We go out in the living room where my husband and other two children are waiting to have family prayer. We pray as a family and feel the peace of the Spirit enter our home. I excuse myself to the back room to say my own prayers, and come back minutes later feeling refreshed. I start breakfast, and sit down with the kids at the table to eat. We have a fun discussion and make plans for the day. After we are done I clean up the plates, wash the table and counters, and start helping my kids with their chores. Everyone is happy, cheerful, and ready to start the day. We hug and kiss Micah goodbye, then sit down to have scripture study. I feel happy, fulfilled, and excited to spend the day with my children, whom I adore.
Later on in the day when the kids are busy or my toddlers asleep, I sit down to check and respond to emails, write on my blog, or make phone calls. I also use this time to take out trashes, wipe up dust, pluck crazy eyebrows, or clean out my church bag. It doesn’t take me long, and I’m able to get it all done without many distractions. We all have a much better day, and feel a happy flow and rhythm in our home.

Thank you Micah for reminding me of what makes me happiest. It’s so easy for me to fall victim to that first scenario; to run around thinking I am getting all the things done that I need to do, and that if I move fast enough and work hard enough, everyone and everything will be taken care of.

It’s simply not true.

Happiness and peace comes to me from doing what I love most, which is spending time and energy with my husband and children. Afetr that, everything falls into place beautifully.

Today and forever I promise to be present with my kids.

3 comments:

Micah said...

Way to reflect.
I love you.
You're eyebrows are bithcin.

chelsea mckell said...

I love Micah's response almost as much as I love this post! Such a good reminder. First things first!

ps - during that quiet afternoon nap/catchup time.... I put another LLL post on my blog. Tell me if it's TMI for a public blog post.

Da Denninghoff's said...

I have a huge grin on my face for many reasons. Distraction uggh I'm always having to check and recheck and check to see if whatever i'm doing at the time is the best use of my time. Great reminder.