Be Present, Be Mindful

Being present and being mindful is one of the most important realizations as a parent. It’s saying a lot that it is coming at this time, seeing as how I’m a mom of three boys with the oldest being over 4 years old. I am a big believer in “better late than never”, but I figured I would share my epiphany with those who may not have to save them some time.
Not too long ago, my two oldest started taking part in various activities such as swimming, soccer, and karate lessons (so cute!). Due to the fact that I also have a 9-month-old baby, my husband and I switch off the responsibility of taking the boys to their activities. This is so that someone can stay home with the baby who has had the worst time this fall and winter with different colds and stomach bugs.
Watching the boys start to have fun and learn in these activities has been a real treat as a parent, but this is where my epiphany happened. I’d say like any parent, every activity begins with the taking of pictures for future reference or embarrassment, and in this, I was no exception. After all, they were so adorable in their karate outfits!
It wasn’t long before I noticed one parent taking their recording duties to the extreme, recording more or less every vital second of the class. Now, if you feel that someday down the road you will want to re-watch every second of every karate class your child has taken since they were the age of three, knock your socks off, but ask yourself one thing, is that really what is important?
This is precisely the moment that I realized that though it is nice to have pictures to look at later, I’d rather be there with my kids, in the moment, enjoying them and their activity. I’d also like to think that they would prefer I spend that time with them, then look at them through the screen of my phone. I’d rather make those memories first hand, even if I don’t have a way to look back on them later in their physical form.
As a parent, I also find this rather disruptive. At such a young age, our kids require some guidance during various activities, karate being one of them. I actually enjoy that portion of the class, getting to participate and help them grasp some of the harder concepts is a real joy. But having to make accommodations for a parent who is too focused on filming rather than on the child, is frustrating.
In some instances, it can also be heartbreaking, as you watch the child realize that their parent won’t put the phone down and pay attention. They have a certain look in their eyes, which is hard to forget.
This is where I ask all parents to take the time to train yourself to put down your phone. I am as guilty as anyone, especially when I am home and feel the need to escape, to pick up that phone and stare at the screen, but our kids don’t need that. Our kids need our presence more than anything else. They need to know that we care about the things they want to show us, or the games they want to play with us.
So, if you find yourself reaching for that phone to look at Facebook or Twitter once again, think to yourself, does my child need me right now? When you feel that you have to record every second, ask yourself whether you will actually watch this later, or would you rather you and your child have that memory to share together later? Something fond to look back on? I promise that I will be better too.

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