- Parents have it hard. There’s no denying that. Everyone has a better idea of how you should be parenting and most of them are fully capable (and eager!) to describe their ideas to you in detail. But no matter their advice and fantastic ideas, parenting continues to be hard, and one of the hardest things about it is this: remaining present (1).
The Difficulty Of Being Present
According to Amanda Foust, published author and professional “mama,” “With our attention swinging from one thing to the next thing like a person playing whack-a-mole, it’s hard to be fully present. At the moment, we often think about what we should be doing instead” (1). Foust explains that during potty training sessions, she often thinks of the laundry pile growing bigger and bigger; she says that adult conversations get interrupted by small hands pulling on her shirt and interpreting questions (1). “By the time we do fit in those one-on-one moments with each of our kids, we are so far behind in all the other things we were supposed to do that the stress we feel inside acts as a barrier to quality time,” Foust writes (1).
As a parent, you’re often constantly pulled in seven different directions with an endless to-do list accumulating in your wake. It’s important to understand, however, that your child notices the struggles.
According to Samantha Boardman, M.D., when someone is struggling to remain present at the moment, then, “Family time is especially vulnerable. When children see their parents constantly on the phone, it sends a message about priorities” (2). Children understand that a lack of attention, prioritization, or effective quality time from their parents means that something else is far more important than they are. A lack of presence from a parent is detrimental to a child, teaching them exactly how low on the to-do list they are (1).
Becoming Present Is Incredibly Beneficial
But practicing ways to remain more present has benefits on more people than just your children; it also helps you out personally! Elyssa Barbash, Ph. D., has helped her patients for years to learn how to be more mindful, which ultimately means learning and practicing how to be more present in their own lives (3). Barbash says, “The benefits of this type of mental lifestyle are plentiful. Those who live in the moment tend to be happier, calmer and more relaxed, and appreciative. Mindfulness can also increase your ability to be in tune with your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, which allows you to work with these human factors and communicate how you are thinking and feeling to both yourself and others” (3).
The Importance of Parental Involvement in Education
Parental involvement in education is a vital part of ensuring that children succeed in school. Studies have shown that when parents are involved in their child’s education, the child is more likely to do well in school and have better grades. Parental involvement can take many forms, such as helping with homework, attending school events, or volunteering in the classroom. It is important for parents to be involved in their child’s education from an early age so that they can help the child learn and succeed. When children see their parents taking an interest in their education, they are more likely to take pride in their own academic achievements. Parental involvement is essential for children to reach their full potential in school and in life.
Tips to Being a Present Parent
Here are some tips for being a more present parent:
Spend Less Time on Technology
Our lives are full of distractions, but few pull us away from the present moment more than the computer in our pockets. With constant notifications and a never-ending stream of content, it can be hard to resist looking at your phone when you should be focusing on your kids. The key to being a present parent is learning to be in the moment without any screens.
It’s crucial to regularly compliment your children about their character; this will not only improve their self-confidence but makes them feel seen and appreciated. And it doesn’t always have to be related to things they’ve physically or intellectually accomplished – you can simply tell them that you love having them in your life.
Plan Special Trips
It’s all too easy to be caught up in life and lose sight of the little things. Kids are only small for a short period of time, so make sure they treasure their youth. Make time for special excursions to zoos or even parks so that you may enjoy some “in the moment” family bonding.
Show Interest in Their Day and Make Them Feel Important
We can frequently be physically present but mentally absent. A great example of this is when we ask our kids questions and then think about something else as they answer. Pay attention to this! When they come home from school, query them about their day and actually listen to what they tell you. Ask follow-up questions. Repeat back to them what you heard to verify that you were listening carefully.
Make Rules and Stick To Them
What do house rules have to do with good parenting? If you’re in the middle of making dinner and your child is breaking the rules, it can be easy to ignore their behavior. But if you stop what you’re doing every time they misbehave, neither of you will be happy. It’s better for both of you to enforce rules consistently even though it may not be fun at the moment.
Use tonight to reflect on today and think about how you can be a more present parent tomorrow. You should also take the time to appreciate what was most important to you during the day. Keeping a journal is also beneficial because it gives you an outlet to vent constructively about your day’s frustrations, practice gratitude, and plan for a more productive tomorrow.
Practice Self Care
Being a present parent demands much of you, but caring for your kids necessitates first caring for yourself. As long as you understand the need to take care of yourself and make it a priority, caring for yourself and your children at the same time isn’t difficult.
Involve Your Kids in Everyday Tasks
Did you know that by including your children in everyday activities, such as cooking and cleaning, you’re not only spending quality time with them but also helping them to develop good habits for the future? Next time you cook dinner or walk the dog, bring your little ones along! Not only is it a great exercise for them, but it’s also a perfect opportunity for some bonding (and teaching).
Remove the Guilt
Sometimes, being in the moment with your children when there are so many other priorities on your mind is difficult. Nobody is perfect, and every parent has regrets, but don’t be too hard on yourself. They aren’t kids forever; tomorrow is another day to improve your presence.
While being an in-the-moment person might not be natural for you, it presents an untold number of benefits to your own health, as well as the health of your family (3). In cases where it is impossible to be physically present as much as we, and our loved ones, want, it’s incredibly important to make it clear where your heart is (4). Being present in mind and body not only helps your family thrive, but it also helps you as a parent lead a healthier, more fulfilling life (3).
Don’t let the future steal your present.
- The Importance Of Being Present As A Parent (lifeasmama.com)
- Are You Here? The Importance of Being Present | Psychology Today
- Mindfulness and Being Present in the Moment | Psychology Today
- The Importance of Being Truly Present With Our Families | Institute for Family Studies (ifstudies.org)
- The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children – PMC (nih.gov)
- Experts Discuss the Importance of Positive Parental Involvement in Education | Rasmussen University