Mindfulness starts with putting down our phones

"Mama, Put down your phone!" was a staunch order from my two year old. She was going in and out on the deck wanting toys to play with in her playhouse and I was distracted with my phone. The guilt set in because I knew that particular morning I was more focused on my phone than her. The worst part; my toddler also picked up on my absent minded behavior.

I care for my children all day long and still nurse my baby at night when she wants. So I am at their call 24 hours a day. My husband can travel for days at a time so that means it is me and them. All the time. That means I wipe every nose and feed them every meal. I play house everyday and put together the same puzzle at least 10 times a week. I make sure they get their naps and limit their screen time. I am there for every tantrum, every emotion, and every milestone. I am responsible for their learning and planning new activities. I hear every cry and respond immediately. I give every bath and change every diaper. I am their safety. I am their everything right now.  Not only can it be physically tiring, but it is mentally tiring.

Outdoor playhouse fun

When you have to play doctor or puppets for the 10th time that week and its only Wednesday how do you stay present? Being at home with young kids can be so much fun some days, but other days it is boring and hard to stay engaged with your kids play.
I want to be more present and mindful when I am with my children. I am sure this rings true no matter what your day job happens to be.

My baby is mobile now and has to be constantly entertained. She is always learning.

Mindfulness seems to be a buzzword lately. Do a quick google search and you will learn mindfulness may help people with addiction, creativity, weight loss, aggression, learning and of course attention spans.  In its most basic form, Mindfulness means to pay attention to what's happening, on purpose, in the present moment, and to do so without judgment. So how do we reap all these benefits of mindfulness and actually apply them to our technology filled lives?

I came up with a few simple ways I am trying to be a less distracted parent.

1. Schedule screen time and put the phone/tablet away at all other times.

I started banning my toddler from Youtube since it seemed to be turning her into a tiny video obsessed zombie. Now I only allow her TV cartoons at certain times of the day and I quickly realized that I could also benefit from this practice. In the morning when I drink my coffee, and read the news on my phone, my toddler gets a cartoon. We also get a bit of screen time after nap and before bath. The rest of the time our TV is typically off and I try to put my phone away from us on the kitchen island. This prevents me from randomly looking at my phone for no reason, I am more present for my children and I still get that connection to the outside world throughout the day.

Some special screen time.

2. Schedule your own break time during the week so you do not get mentally worn out.

Once I become mentally fatigued, my judgment and ability to be mindful with my kids decreases greatly. I went to my first Piyo class this week and when I got back I was able to be a better mom. That may mean you get a weekly nail appointment, a lunchtime walk, or your husband watches the kids, orders take-out and you have a break from being the primary caregiver for an evening. Recharge your battery in whatever way fuels your soul in order to return to you kids a more present (and happier) parent.

3. Venture outside into nature.

I don't know if its the sunshine on my face or the ability to experience nature with all my senses that increases mindfulness in the moment.

Outdoor walks on the rocks.

Raising my girls will continually force new questions about how to navigate our technology filled world and yet remain connected. So I am always open to new ideas or tips. Everyday I am just trying to follow my own advice, but I still fail regularly. I am writing this post to recount my own experiences as a stay at home parent that struggles daily with mindfulness and screen time. So when I see you at the park with your kids on the playground and your head down looking at your phone. I get it. I've been there. No judgment from me.

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