You have so much pulling at you – school schedules, meal planning and preparation, needy babies, kids’ bickering, work schedules, sickness, keeping the house clean, etc. The day starts and you feel like there’s barely enough time to be still and breathe. At the end of the day you fall into bed exhausted.
Then you look at your children, and you feel guilty. You feel like you are constantly pushing them away in order to get things done. The look on their faces brings sadness to your heart. You know that they need you, but you don’t know how to give them any more of your time when there is so little time to spare.
When there is a moment of silence, all you want is for there to BE silence. Your mind is already a swirl of information, and that moment is a small reprieve where the swirling can settle. It is also in those moments that your children come to you… but all you want is for them to leave you alone. Again you feel guilty. You want to welcome the snuggles and the conversations, but you just want a moment without someone needing you.
You wonder if it is possible to fully be present in your children’s lives with your busy schedule. Do you believe that it is possible, or do you already have it stuck in your mind that it’s not possible for you?
Before you can take any action toward being more present in your children’s lives, you have to understand why it is important to you. What are you hoping to achieve by being more present? What do you think it will do for you? What do you think it will do for your children?
Then you need to understand what you believe it takes to be present to your kids, and what being present looks like in your mind? Are your preconceived thoughts making you believe that it is just not possible for you or that it is too hard?
While this post is about being present in your children’s lives even with a busy schedule, it is still important to take a look at all that you have on your plate. Are you overbooked? Have you said yes to too many things in your own schedule AND in your children’s schedules? Sports and extracurricular activities are fun and important, but are they more important than having the time you need to be present to them in other ways? You may not be able to change anything right now, and that’s okay. What you can do is take note of all that you have said yes to in this season, and re-evaluate what you will say yes to and no to at the next opportunity.
Now that you have all of that figured out and understood, we can go through some simple ways that you can be more present in your children’s lives today. Look into their eyes when they are talking to you – eye contact shows that you are engaged and listening. Make it a priority to sync up your schedules as much as possible and eat with your children at whatever meals are most convenient. Make an effort to understand how they feel loved and show them love in the way they desire it. I bet that you already have a good idea of what ways they feel loved best, but if you are still struggling to figure it out check out The Five Love Languages for Children (affiliate link). If they need quality time, invite them to make dinner with you and talk about their day. If they need physical touch, make an extra effort to give them hugs or gentle touches throughout the day. When they need words of affirmation, start praising them for those small things that they do even if it seems like overkill.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
The most profound way that you can be present in the lives of your children is to live in the present moment. It is going about your day and not allowing your mind to treat them as unwelcome interruptions. It is focusing on them when they come to you with their needs. It is responding in love and placing boundaries around time that you need to focus on other things, and then keeping your word and going back to them when you are done. There is a great temptation to tell your children that you will be with them once you are finished, but then after finishing and seeing that they are happily playing, going back on your word and starting a new task without going to them. You may see it as an extra opportunity to get things done, when in reality it tells them that you are untrustworthy and that they are unimportant.
Children are very forgiving.
There are moments when my children rush in to ask me a question, and I realize after they have rushed out that I answered without even looking at them. That moment to be present has passed, but I can strive to do better next time.
It doesn’t take much to remedy the moments when you get distracted by all that there is to do. So take heart, and try again. Still your mind and look at your child. You won’t be able to help but smile. Know that all of your cares and worries will be sorted out. The to do list will get checked off. Trust God, do the next best thing in each moment, and live in the present with your children. You already know why it is important to you.