All the distractions.
I believe this is one of the biggest struggles in parenting today.
There are so many things that vie for our attention.
In fact, I have found myself longing to be part of a simpler generation.
One where it was not all about the latest and greatest. A time when there were not so many choices. A time where our phones do not provide every single bit of information we need ALL. THE. TIME.
Have you ever felt this way?
Recently I have been on a journey.
I call it a journey because it is a daily choice I have to make, and one that I will never get quite perfectly.
But, it is a journey that is so worth the result: connection with my children.
This is my story of how I am choosing to say yes to my kids and no to distractions.
While this sounds simple enough, I have learned that I have to be very intentional.
It is important to understand that I am not saying yes to everything my kids ask for, such as material items. The saying yes part is all about saying yes to quality time, moments together, and memories in the making.
And I do still spend time on my phone and computer. I have just learned to prioritize what matters. I have learned to say no so I can say yes.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
If we are going to be intentional about cutting back on distractions, we have to start by limiting distractions.
Right now go to your phone and turn off all notifications.
Seriously, this will cut back on 90% of distractions.
Turn off notifications for Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Instagram, games, …
For an iPhone, go to Settings, Notifications, and uncheck the Allow Notifications box.
Why is this so important?
Even if you are not prone to looking at or getting sucked into the notifications you receive, it is still hanging over your head rather you realize it or not.
Just the thought that an e-mail came in, or someone commented on your Facebook status, or your latest post was shared so many times will take up space in your mind. And pull you away from what is right in front of you.
Or maybe you say to yourself “I will just look at one thing on Facebook or answer one e-mail.” Before you know it, an hour has passed. Social media has a way of doing just that!
If you use your computer a lot, I highly recommend shutting off all notifications on your computer as well.
To do this on a Mac, go to the apple icon on the top light and click on notifications, and hit none for each and every one.
OK, that was the hardest thing you will do during this post.
I know. The fear of missing out is real.
I struggle with it as well!
Give this a try for a week. I promise you will feel so light and free!
And I will walk you through more steps on how to accomplish this in my e-mail series.
A QUICK TIP TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK
Now with notifications off and distractions minimized, we have to learn to be intentional about following through with our children.
Think back over the past month.
How many times have you told your kids: we will do that in a minute, we will get to that soon, we can do that tomorrow, not right now, but maybe later?
I know for me it used to be all the time!
Yes, there are times where we have to tell our children that they will have to wait.
But if you find yourself saying these phrases every time your kids ask for your time or attention, it is time to reevaluate.
This is what works for us: We put notes on our fridge.
If there is a situation when I have to say “not right now” due to work, school, or helping another child, then I tell that child to write it down and stick it on the refrigerator.
So if I am doing housework or cooking dinner, and someone wants me to go on a bike ride with them before I would have said “not right now”, but now I say “write it on the fridge, and we will take that bike ride soon.”
The note on the refrigerator keeps me accountable.
They know that if it is on the refrigerator, we are going to make time to do it together.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED
The biggest benefit of saying yes to my kids and no to distractions is that my kids listen better.
When I have to say no to a treat or an outing, they are much more willing to comply.
They know that I say “yes” as much as often and that we get to do a lot of things together.
It is similar to filling our children’s love tank.
When their love tanks are full with attention and time, everything seems to fall into place.
WHAT THIS HAS MEANT FOR ME
In two words: pure joy.
I have peace when I am doing the things in my life that truly matter.
When I have found time to pour consistently into my children, I do not feel as guilty when I have to work or do chores or take time out for myself.
I live with more intention.
Living without distractions has freed up so much time to do things that matter the most on a day to day basis.
Time with our kids is limited and precious.
Do you want to join me on this journey?
For seven days, I will guide you through each and every step I have taken to free my life of distractions and allow me to say yes to what truly matters.
Since embarking on this journey, I have seen more sunsets, gone on more bike rides, taken my children on picnics, sat down and colored, read lots of books on the porch swing with kids, and spent some precious time truly playing with my children.
It is exhilarating. It is freeing. And best of all I know you can do it!
Join me for this 5-part series.