I have been making a conscious effort to be more ‘present’ with the kids recently, and to multitask a little less.
It bothers me that I have become really good at carrying on a conversation about the school day, at the same time as sending an email, checking the work twitter account, deleting spam from the shop facebook page, juggling money between accounts to avoid overdraft and checking what the weather will be like tomorrow. Admittedly all these things need to be done at some point, but probably not right now. My problem is that I’m very much a right now sort of person, and I do genuinely find it really difficult not to do something if I know it needs to be done. And smartphones – brilliant as they are – only make this tendency worse in me. So I’ve changed a few things – I’ve put my email on fetch rather than push; I’ve turned off @notifications beeps for the twitter accounts I am responsible for; I’ve taught the husband twitter too so he can deal with the shop account; but most of all I have tried to change this mental inability to switch off from work/shop life when I am at home.
Tonight, for instance. Tonight I was going to bang out a couple of emails while the youngest was watching the Night Garden, but I decided – no, I was going to leave the emails and watch it with him. So I put my phone to one side, out of temptation’s reach, and cuddled up with him on the sofa. Then suddenly up he jumps and runs to the other side of the room to bring me my phone.
‘No sweetheart, I don’t need my phone right now, I’m having some special time watching the Night Garden with you’.
I watch his little face, waiting for the beam of happiness that would surely come from having my undivided attention.
And I am indeed rewarded with a beam, a massive grin from ear to ear. A lovely warm feeling washes over me. Yes, I should definitely do this more often. Look how happy he is, just from having even a small amount of one to one Mummy time.
‘Really?’ he says, ‘Don’t you want to do Mummy’s work on Mummy’s phone?’
‘No, Mummy doesn’t need her phone now – Mummy can do her work later’.
An even bigger grin. Oh, how I am mentally polishing my mothering halo. And then, slowly, reality dawns as his grin gets bigger again…
‘Oh, good. That means I can play Angry Birds!’