As I write this post, I am technically spending time with my daughters. It’s the afternoon, they’ve been liberated from camp, and I should have closed up my laptop hours ago.
”Should,” tends to be an elusive goal in my parenting world so instead they are huddled in front of an episode of “Busytown,” and I sit a few feet away huddled in front of you, dear reader.
The reason is a good one. . .well, there’s always a good reason. This time my excuse for facing a screen instead of the two of them is that we’re about to set off on a two-week family vacation during which I have pledged to myself that I will be “present.”
That is, I will not be half-listening to a story about my younger daughter’s imaginary friend while scrolling through e-mails on my iPhone or pretending to watch the the older daughter’s mangled cartwheel while typing my things-to-do-list. My fourteen day mantra will be: Focus.
In order to accomplish this, I need to tackle a pile of work before I go, including writing this post. One evening of family screen time isn’t so bad in return for two weeks of presence, right?
Or am I kidding myself? Will a couple of weeks of attention to my daughters make up for months worth of multi-tasked parenting?
“I would definitely say that parents being more able to be fully present with their children without the distractions of domestic duties at home and demands from work, is one of the biggest benefit of vacations for kids,” said Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of “ The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind ,” (Delacorte, 2011).
I tracked Bryson down while she was on her own vacation with her three children. She pointed out the irony of talking about her professional expertise while she had intended to avoid work during the trip.
Still, she said it’s worth the effort to tuck away the smartphone and tune into the family.
“Without distraction, parents can usually pay more undivided attention to their children. This frees parents up to be more playful, to be more tuned into their child’s needs and desires and to build great memories because their time and energy are focused on one another instead of outside distractions,” she said.
Okay, so now it’s time to turn off the computers (both of them,) store my iPhone and hit the road.
For the next two weeks, the blog will be written by several guest posters and a few new voices. Keep the conversation going until I get back and wish me luck with this grand experiment.
Have you tried to turn off and tune into to your family? What’s your strategy?