Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fully Present

photo courtesy of Ken Bruggeman Photography
 I remember when I first discovered Pinterest. I was instantly hooked, and I remember wondering when I would ever have time to actually make and do all those things I was pinning. Blogging and Facebook have the same allure. My iPhone makes it so easy to check email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all those other things that "keep me connected" to the outside world. But I came to a point where I realized that these things were interfering from my ability to be fully present with my family. I would be "playing" with Burke while flipping through my Facebook news feed or "listening" to Ben while pinning. And I hated the fact that I felt so compelled to be present for an outside world and people I hardly knew while the people that I love so much got only my distracted and disingenuous presence.

Knowing that I want to be fully present for my family, friends and anyone else who has my ear for a moment, I have made a few changes. Set a few ground rules. Here are some examples of the ways in which I make sure to give all of my presence to those who mean the most to me:

~ Take time to have meals together. We always begin our day by sitting down together for breakfast. Before Burke {our new alarm clock}, that meant that I had to wake up earlier than necessary in order to make it all happen since Ben had to be out the door before me. But beginning our day as a family is worth the early wake up call. While lunch doesn't always happen at the same time for everyone, we always sit down for dinner as a family as well. With a toddler who goes to bed at 7, this means that Ben and I eat an early dinner, but again, this quality time is worth any inconvenience.

~ No phones/devices at the dinner table. Sure, every now and again the phone rings during our meal and one of us will answer it. But as a general rule, we try to avoid making calls, checking email, Facebook or any other smartphone trap during this time together.

~ No phones/devices in the car {except for long trips, in which case occasional iPhone checking is acceptable}. We use car rides as opportunities to catch up, share what's on our hearts and minds, and {mostly} entertain Burke. The kid lights up when you drill him on animal sounds and loves to "sing songs" of his own. It's really the sweetest thing! Usually, the only music playing in our car is what we're singing--we have great renditions of "This Land is Your Land" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" complete with harmony and gestures. However, if we sing ourselves dry, we do have some backup tunes from groups such as Lynyrd  Skynyrd, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and the like. One day, Burke will be old enough to choose his listening preferences, but until then, at least he'll get some culture!

~ Take time for play time. Instead of only halfheartedly playing with Burke, while trying to do one of ten other things at the same time, I have made concentrated efforts to take some play breaks throughout the day and focus on being fully present with him during those times. Sure he needs to learn independent play {and he's really great for being an only child} and sure I need to get things done {I mean, he'll be very unpleasant if there are no "nacks" for him to eat at dinnertime}. So with that in mind, I try to take time out from my tasks to spend just with him. To let him know that he's important. And that he can trust me to be present when he needs me.

Since I have made it my priority to give my full presence to my family, I have found such happiness and freedom in our interactions. I no longer feel pulled between two worlds. I have made the decision to be fully with them and I love picking up on all those details, intricacies and expressions that I would otherwise miss. It has added profound richness to my relationships and I wouldn't change it for the world!

What are some of the ways that you make time to be fully present with your family or friends? What are some family activities or traditions that are important to you?

1 comment:

  1. Tab,
    This really hit home to me. Just this past week I told my husband that I think I am going to delete my facebook page. When he asked why I said, "I feel like I have to constantly look at what everyone else is doing and then I compare myself as to why I am not like that person, or why can't I decorate like that, or take such good pictures of my kids, or be as successful as this person." All he said back to me was, "I can see you doing that and maybe you should delete it."
    I also feel like the smartphones and high technology is great for learning BUT I am missing moments and memories. While reading your post I was nursing my son. I am missing those moments where he is supposed to look into my eyes and bond with his mommy. But he wants to know what I am looking at (a bright light coming from mommy's hand.)
    I think I too will put into place some rules as well. When I feel the need to check my phone before I go to bed and right when I wake up, or take it with to the bathroom like the husband does...I think we need reevaluate what we are missing. I know the words, "are you paying attention to what your son is saying" to my husband come out too often. I would like my children to use the great technology to their benefit, not get sucked in to a black hole. I mean our generation had no gadgets like this. We had to use our imagination, suffer from a little boredom and we turned out fine.
    So to answer your question, I am going to create some rules and if we can't follow them maybe just go back to a basic phone. Thanks for posting this.