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How many times do we hear “Mama, come play with me” or “Mama, look at this” and respond with “not right now, honey” or “after I do this”? I know I do it so many times every day. I am always putting other activities in front of being present with my kiddos. Sometimes it’s things that have to be done, like changing a diaper or getting dinner on the table. But so often, it’s something that doesn’t need to be taking my attention. Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, doing the laundry, or whatever other thing is distracting me at the moment, it’s not nearly as important as being a more present mom to my kiddos.
I’m blessed to be staying at home with my kids in this season of life, and so I spend a lot of time with them. Even so, a lot of that time, I’m not being fully present with them. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good to let children self entertain and learn how to play on their own. It’s good to take the time to clean up after a meal or send a text out to a friend. And it’s good to have time away, focusing on “mama” things. But our kids need us, they need our attention and our interest in the things they’re interested in. Even if it’s a quick moment of connection amidst a busy day, these moments of connection are what our children crave and thrive on.
I fail in little (and big) ways every day in this journey to being more present. My goal is that when my kids look back, they will remember me as a mom who loved them with all her heart and gave them the attention they needed. Not as the “wait until I’m done with ____” mom that I so often am right now. The following ideas are some of the things I’ve been trying on my journey to being a more present mom. Some I try to do every day, others every once in awhile. See if there are any that will help you, too, on your journey to being more present with your children.
1) Put the phone down
Our phones are so addicting- between starting up this blog, keeping up with social media, and reading whatever funny article some acquaintance from high school posted, I feel like I’m always on it. I’ve started to put limits on myself- I can only have it when the kids are sleeping or eating, I keep it on the kitchen counter, or I can do this one task but then it goes away. Find what works for you to put the phone down and be present with those in front of you. It’s okay to indulge every once in awhile, but we don’t want our kids thinking we love our phone more than we love them.
2) Do activities you enjoy
I am way better at being a more present mom with my kids when we are doing something that I enjoy doing. I love reading to my kids, so I try to incorporate that somewhere every day. Puzzles and painting are also go to’s for me as Nora has gotten older. When I’m excited about something she’s doing, she gets even more excited to share it with me. Experiment with different games, toys, and activities to see what you enjoy doing. Do more of that!
3) Invest in yourself
I am such a better mom when my cup is full. That is, when I take time for myself away from the kids, when I have some bit of quiet in the day. By putting myself first sometimes and taking the time I need, I’m able to come back refreshed and ready to take on tantrums and messes with a little more patience and a lot more love. Sometimes that’s as easy as taking a shower (with no kids in the bathroom!) and sometimes, I need my husband to watch the kids while I go to Starbucks or the library. Whether it’s taking time to pray or have quiet in the morning, getting a workout in during naptime, or just simply taking a nice shower, find that thing that fills your cup and take the time to invest in yourself.
4) Include kids in household chores
I get so distracted from my kids when the house is a mess. I’m either away cleaning it or thinking about all of the things I need to do when I’m trying to play with them. By incorporating them in tasks like cooking, laundry, or sweeping, I’m able to practice being a more present mom to my kids while also getting the things I need to get done done. Sometimes this means it takes a little bit longer to get a task done, but so often they enjoy being a part of the process. Invite your little ones to do your to do list with you- you might be surprised at what they’re able to do!
5) Turn up the music
I’m learning that putting on some music and having a dance party (or as Nora is starting to call them- talent shows) is one of the best things to reset my brain and prompt my being more present. There’s something about dancing with my kiddos that adds a little extra joy to my day. Nora is starting to sing along to different songs and Charlie is a dancing machine, so it’s been really fun to share these times together. Whether it’s “mama” music, old classics, or Toddler Radio on Pandora (my go to), put on some music and see what happens.
6) Get out of the house
I am such a better mom when we leave the house. When we’re at home, I have the dishes and laundry beckoning me, my phone is in easy reach, and I get bored of playing the same old games. Enter outings! Whether it’s something simple like going to the grocery store, or a bigger outing like going to the zoo, I’m able to disconnect from all of the things waiting for me at home, and just be present with my kiddos. Find those places that bring you joy, and include them in your weekly routine. Or if you’re having a bad day, just take that spontaneous trip to the park! Sometimes all we need is a good reset and getting out of the house does just that, allowing you to be a more present mom.
7) Soak in the hugs and snuggles
My kiddos are still little, so they still enjoy getting mama snuggles. Sometimes all that I need to do to make a little one happy is pull them into my lap and spend some time snuggling and talking or reading a book. By having that loving physical contact, we’re able to say to our kids that they matter without having to say it at all. Plus snuggling is good for our children’s and our own well-being. We release oxytocin when we cuddle, which leads to happy feelings and bonding. So take some time to snuggle with your little ones today, if only for a couple minutes.
The cliche is so true- kids grow big so fast. I want to make sure my children feel loved during the time that I’m blessed to have them. By being a more present mom, I hope to be their person when they need to talk, to be the one they turn to when they need a hug or some extra snuggles, and to be who they call whenever they’re in trouble. I’m starting on this journey now, and I hope that you’ll come along with me. Let me know what you do to be more present with your kids by leaving a comment below or by chatting with us on Facebook or Instagram!