Thursday, April 26, 2012
The importance of time together
It's so easy to avoid spending time with the people that mean the most to you. It's so natural to fall out of the moment and into other things.
And as much as I love me some technology, it's technology that makes that easier to do than it has ever been before. I mean, honestly.
Consider this ...
You go out for dinner and your child is antsy. You try to talk her down. Get her to focus. Look for a way to keep her still. You really don't want to walk out. You have no food in the house and no patience.
You or your other half pull out your cell phone. Angry Birds it is!
As a stay-at-home mom I try to get a few minutes to myself during the day. Usually to finish a blog post. Maybe to catch up on my friends online, via the mommies group I participate in, or by reading their blogs. Hopefully catching someone on Twitter. Or, yes, my newly created facebook account.
I look to escape on Pinterest. Or pick up a book and try to hide. I still read the page-turning kind, so I'm picking up my copy and my cup of coffee or tea and sitting at the table while she jumps around to the Fresh Beat Band or watches the same movie for the hundredth (at her choosing!) time.
But it's not just the gadgets and the electronic focus. Not at all. See this scenario:
My husband comes home, we sit down and eat as a family. By the time he gets home my child has already started her meal. Sometimes it's late and that's the best option. We struggle with speaking to one another over her attempts at getting our attention. She asks to be excused. Polite. Mission minded. We say yes. "Go wash your hands."A quick glimpse at a few quiet words while the water runs in the background.
The water shuts off. "With soap," I find myself saying, in the direction of the silence. The water is back on. And then off again.
We try to talk to one another over her focus of playing with the dogs, dancing around, whatever is on her mind. It's easy to sigh, smile at one another and find ourselves wrapped up in the next steps of the day.
Getting her to bed has never been an easy task. We struggle with her staying in her bed, or her room. We've worked on new ways - and I think I've found one! But still ... she needs one of us (usually me) to be with her for a bit. It's so hard to shut her brain down for the day. Once we leave her the TV calls to us. The iPad. The phone. Facebook. Twitter. Who is out there?
We sit together on the couch. Our DVR is our friend. We don't even watch that many shows together any more, but we find time for the few we do. It's worth it, to share a laugh or two. Or ten. To catch up on the news (if you call Jon Stewart the news. I do. Often. Who has time for much else, I must ask!) or whatever we feel like focusing on. Laughing together at the end of the day is essential.
He's tired. He has work tomorrow. I have my daughter's brain. Or I should say she has mine. I can't shut down. I pop online. Turn a few pages in that book. Play a word game as a way to decompress.
These are not the things I will remember as I grow older.
Not the things my child will look back on moving forward.
She'll remember that I made changes to make our together better.
She'll consider the moments I share with you below that capture the happiness of our day and time together.
Obviously I'm on the other side of the camera here, so I'm not captured in the moment, but I'm capturing the moment for my memory's sake. I need to honestly do a little less of that, as well. I need to put down the phone and/or the camera and stop snapping away the moments. I need to be IN the moment, instead of outside of it. That would be a huge step towards making our time together better.
As for my little one, I know she'll always think back and consider the fun moments. She's got a memory like an elephant. Or like me, if I'm being honest. So without pictures I know that she'll remember the times her mommy and daddy held her hand and lifted her up across a curb or a puddle. She'll think of the time she planted flowers with her daddy INside, and remember the importance of watering them every day now that they're outside. It's my hope that she'll always think back and see that time together can be so much more than turning on the television and skimming through the DVR.
And so will I.
So let's try to make the together moments the fun ones. Let's try to do less of tossing the phone, the remote or the tablet at the children and more of the let's make a mess mentality. Having fun is what matters most. Even more importantly if we spend that time together to create that fun on our own. Now - where are the chalk and bubbles? Yes, it's raining, who cares!?!
If we do that we'll all remember these moments. And probably (okay, surely!) be happier because of them!
* I have written this post as an entry to Brica's contest for a full sponsorship to the Type-A Parent Conference. Brica's motto is "Making Together Better," and they requested a post in conjunction with that motto meaning as entry submission for this contest.
Brica can be found online at Brica.com, on Twitter at @Brica and on Facebook at /BricaInc.