Being fully present with my kids

Image: Clem Onojeghuo

Or, learning to leave my iPhone in my pocket

Let’s be honest: as a parent, the activities we do with our kids aren’t always enthralling for us as adults. There are plenty times when I’m bored senseless while I’m with my girls. Or, if they’re watching Angelina Ballerina, driven close to insanity.

It’s not all the time, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in struggling for stimulation while watching kids TV with the girls, or helping them with craft activities. It’s very tempting in these moments to whip out my iPhone. I’m still with them, I convince myself, but I can engage my mind with something more grown up. Like, er, the latest ‘27 insights about…’ from Buzzfeed, shared via a friend into my Facebook feed.

What I’m learning is that, though there may be times when it is perfectly reasonable to check out and engage with something more grownup via my iPhone, this should be the exception rather than the norm.

I want to be a father who is fully present when I’m with my girls. I don’t want their memories of time with me to be primarily associated with me, distracted, on my iPhone.

I decided to stay off Facebook and Twitter while I’m away on holiday and it’s amazing how much easier it is to be fully present without these two distractions. Suddenly the ‘need’ to be on my phone is dramatically reduced.

For the most part, when I’ve been spending quality time with the girls this holiday, my iPhone usage has been simply taking photos. This feels so much better.

It’s not always easy — or enjoyable — but sometimes kids just need us, no matter how mind-numbingly boring their activity, to be fully present with what they’re watching, making, or doing.

It’s been interesting too to see how less irritated I get with my girls when the iPhone is out of the equation. When they actively need my attention, I’m already there. They’re not having to wrestle me away from something oh-so-important on my phone.

Clearly there are times when I have jobs to get on with, and I can’t be permanently sat with them. I guess I just want to try and remove some of the blurred lines. I want them to know that when I’m with them, I’m with them.

The healing power of nature

The life that is truly life