How to be Present with Kids
Learning how to be present and in the moment with your kids can be a difficult task in today’s society.
With devices and streaming services distracting us from the real world, it’s hard to stay in tune with reality and focus on what truly matters.
That’s why the first (and biggest) step to connecting with, being present with, and truly spending quality time with your kids starts by ditching all electronic distractions.
Being Present Without Devices
If you are struggling to connect with your children, you feel like they are growing up and somehow you are missing it, or you simply just want to be in the moment more often, ditching the smartphone and other time-consuming devices will be essential.
With that said, before we jump headfirst into the how-to-be-present stuff, I need to get real with you guys!
Being judgmental is human nature and it’s something that I battle with every single day.
With that said, I put forth a lot of effort to not judge others over their parenting skills (or lack thereof). I try to understand that we all come from different backgrounds and I simply don’t see the whole picture.
However, when it comes to smartphones and parenting, I totally do it, you guys — I judge.
This is a hard one for me to even type into words, but there it is.
Not Being Present = The New Norm
I absolutely loathe situations where I see parents choosing technology over their children.
While yes, I will be the first to admit that I pull out my phone to check text messages or take phone calls while I’m out with my own kids but that’s where it ends.
I am, however, not that mom that scrolls on social media endlessly while her children beg for attention.
Never, ever will I be that mom.
No social media post or video will ever be more important than my children.
To be completely honest, I don’t even have social media apps on my smartphone and I likely never will.
Those things are checked on my computer or tablet when I’m at home and relaxing in the evenings, or utilized at my desk on my working days — as they should be!
I’ve seen everything from toddlers watching iPhones while their moms push them around the zoo in strollers to children begging their father to look up from his constant phone scrolling to enjoy the current attraction they are at together.
Parents riding rides with their kids, completely unattached, and watching pointless videos on Facebook.
Moms waiting for an attraction show to start, scrolling through endless pictures and posts on social media.
It never ends, you guys.
The Reality of Not Being Present
While every moment I see a child being unattended, left out, or chosen second over a parent’s smartphone is difficult for me to swallow, I will never forget the day I saw the reality of this addiction.
I was walking through the Kansas City Zoo with my daughter, my mom, and some friends.
We stopped off to play at the playground for a few minutes.
Shortly after our arrival, we noticed a new walker, around a year old, stumbling around completely unsupervised.
This child walked in front of older children zip-lining and almost stumbled completely out of the playground area!
We quickly joined forces and began watching this young child, making sure she stayed in the area and out of immediate danger all while wondering “Where is her mom??”.
Next thing we know a young lady whose nose had been stuck in her phone this entire time, finally notices us corralling her child. She quickly says thank you, picks up the little girl, walks her to the other side of the park, and puts her back down.
Mom goes right back to her phone.
At this point, almost every other adult in the playground is watching the baby and the mom, upset and concerned for the child’s safety.
Then it happens.
BOOM! Another young girl runs up to this woman and says “Mommy, mommy, come push me on the swing!”.
Mom follows, leaving the baby behind, to push the older child. Never looking up from her phone, not even once!
This behavior continues for nearly 10 more minutes.
Mom can’t put the phone down, baby is being watched by complete strangers, and… are you ready for it?
My teenage son walks over to tell me about a little boy that has been going around pulling up all the plants and knocking down the signs at the playground. He said no parent was present and he was getting extremely concerned.
What happened next didn’t even shock me at this point, you guys.
This third child was also hers.
A short while later we all came to this conclusion when he asked to be strapped into a special swing. Mom complied, phone in hand.
She pushed the child once, then walked off to sit down and stare at her phone again.
The child began crying and whining while trying to loosen his straps, but Mom was completely tuned out and never, ever returned for the child.
My heart completely sank that day.
This mom was so addicted to her cell phone that she couldn’t even spend 15 uninterrupted minutes at the park with her babies.
Over the course of that time, her children were in harm’s way, being completely destructive, and begging for her attention.
The worst part?
She wasn’t even aware of any of it!
She was so attached to her cell phone that she was completely disconnected from her own flesh and blood.
*Note: If you read this story and you feel I didn’t do enough, I hear you!
I did help this woman’s young son out of the swing when he became distressed and my mom corralled the baby to make sure she didn’t get hurt, but honestly, what else could be done?
We helped those kiddos in the moment, but we won’t be with this family on future outings and this truly makes my heart hurt!
This day at the zoo will be forever burned into my brain and I think about those children often.
How to Be Present Without Your Phone
While I hope your battle isn’t as deep as it was for the mom in my story above, I truly feel we can all struggle with finding that technology/real-life balance and I share that story as an important eye-opener for other struggling parents.
I’m sure that mother wasn’t always addicted to her smartphone.
Technology distractions and additions like that slip into our lives slowly and typically go unnoticed until the day tragedy strikes and our eyes are opened.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.
With that said, if you want to win the battle and begin being present with your children without technology, try some of these simple methods for ditching the phone and being in the moment with your kiddos!
Keep Your Phone Out of Reach.
Toss your phone in a bag (while out) instead of keeping it in your hand or pocket.
Out of sight sight, out of mind.
When you’re at home, consider tossing it in a basket or leaving it in a different room.
Use Your Phone as a Phone
Only check your phone for urgent text messages or phone calls in between doing activities with your kiddos.
If you view your phone as a tool instead of an entertainment device, eventually it will become second nature to only use it as such!
Delete games, social media, and any other time-consuming apps that take away from time spent with your kids.
Utilize Non-Electronic Activities
If you want to connect with your kiddos, you must invest in them.
Instead of pulling out your smartphone during times of waiting, play games like I Spy, ask simple questions (such as what has been their favorite part of the day has been so far), or have in-depth conversations about their interests!
Plan family game nights, go hiking with your kids, pull out their favorite toys to play with them, and lean on simple activities with a no-phones-allowed mantra!
Purchase a Non-Smart Phone
While they can be difficult to find these days, having a non-smartphone (such as a Light Phone) can be a great solution if you truly need help getting off your device to be in the moment.
Resources for Being Present
If you or someone you know struggle like the mom mentioned in this post, please don’t be afraid to seek help!
Our children, the future generation – they deserve better.
Put the phone away and live in the now for they are only little for so long.
If you fear technology addiction might be happening in your home, seek help before it’s too late by utilizing some of the resources below.
- A Place of Hope – counseling, and help for those struggling with technology addiction.
- Common Sense – technology addiction resources
If you have kiddos struggling with screen time, check out my tips on how to limit screen time for the kiddos.
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