Tag Archives: present

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

Dear parents,
In this Tuesday Tune-In (coming out a little later than normal becuase I had a show this morning,) we are tackling why it’s so hard to be PRESENT with our kids – or with anything for that matter – and what you can do to get in the moment.

These days we are inundated with information: podcasts, articles, emails, texts, social posts. I don’t know about you but I definitely see a difference in my ability to stay focused on a task. I find myself glancing at my phone habitually. In addition, for those of us with babies, lack of sleep makes it almost IMPOSSIBLE to keep our presence on one thing.

Sometimes it’s also hard to align with our kids because, the truth is, they inhabit a different reality than ours.

Grown-ups: Think about the past, present and future at the same time.
Kids: Think about right now.

We can be at the playground watching our kid with hawkeyes climbing the slide, while thinking about what we will make for dinner, when a second ago we thought about what an ass we were at yesterday’s meeting.

Meanwhile what are they thinking about? Climbing the slide.

It can feel so exhilarating to be with them with that amount of presence. Our kids are naturally fully present in everything they do. The younger they are, the more present they are. It’s instinctual for them.

And it can also feel exhausting. Which is why we sometimes crave conversation with other adults who share our experience of being in the world for a while.

But with practice, we can drop into our kids’ world that is completely mindful and present. And then what happens? We truly enjoy our time together. We notice how precious every little bit is – the way they pick up a marker, the way their nose moves while they speak, the way they look at us with adoration.

6 things I do to feel more present with my kids

1. Tell them ahead of time that we will be spending time together.
I find this works both for them and for me. If I tell them in the morning that we will have some time later – or even if I tell them on the way back from school that we will have an hour to play together – it helps me prepare and holds me accountable. The problem I run into if I don’t do this is trying to do three things at once, including being present with them.

2. Put my phone in the other room.
For me, this one is essential. I’m an addict like the rest of us – always feeling the pull to glance at my phone. Putting the phone in the other room helps me realize I don’t need it and makes it physically difficult for me to get to it. Laziness is good for something.

3. Make my day as productive as possible so that I can release it.
The days I feel most present with my kids are the ones in which I manage to be very productive. For me, that means keeping to my to-do list and not getting distracted by social media or even email. If I’ve had four hours of focused productivity, I’m usually in a pretty good mood once I get to the kids. So, I consider building my productivity skills to be essential to how I mother.

4. Put on music.
Usually, after we get home from school there is an hour of acclimation. Snacking, changing clothes, running around, fighting with siblings. But eventually we calm down. At that moment, especially if my intention is to feel present with them, I like to put on some music that will calm me, first of all, and them as well. That can mean anything from vocal jazz to Motown to 80s pop or classical. (What music do you put on in that pre-dinner making hour? I would love to hear in the comments)

5. Sit where they are sitting.
This one might sound silly but for me it makes a big difference. When we’re playing together, I can either say, “Come sit with me at the table” (because most often that’s where I am). Or I can finish what I’m doing and go sit where they are sitting – on the carpet, in their room or sometimes even in the hallway. When I do that, I immediately feel the shift. They are aware that I’m putting aside the time to be with them and I’m meeting them where they are.

6. Take a moment to notice that nothing else is more important.
I know we know this but sometimes it takes reminding ourselves a few times a day – or even a few times an hour. At that moment, when we want to extract ourselves from playing with them – talking to them, sitting on the floor, playing hide and seek or whatever it is – we need to ask ourselves: What is actually more important?

For me, the answer is almost always: nothing.

I hope you enjoyed reading the 6 things I do to feel more present with my kids.

What would your kids say you do to be present with them? COMMENT below and let me know.
Sometimes thinking about it from our kids point of view helps us see what’s working and what’s not. What comes to mind for you?

Know more mindful parents? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
They’ll love the tip about sitting where they are sitting – and hopefully the other five, too. Forward this email their way as a way of saying you’re proud of their intentional work..

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You don’t need to enrich your baby

Today, I’m going to share 1 tip & 1 activity that releases yourself from the nagging belief that we need to do all kinds of things in order to enrich our babies.

Welcome to the Tuesday Tune-In. Here we go.

We really do drive ourselves crazy, right? It’s an epidemic of our generation. We had babies later in life than our parents did and had more time to feel independent, pursue careers and support ourselves than our parents ever did. We know how to get shit done.

It’s no surprise we feel a constant urge to enrich our babies.

We bounce through the night while scrolling through bits of information on how to do things best. Like business conferences, we absorb new information from our new friends and classes. And, as we go, we start to feel little pangs of stress. We look at the other babies and we wonder why our baby isn’t rolling yet, crawling yet, standing yet, talking yet or walking yet, like the other babies. That’s when we think we should be doing even more enrichment activities.

I know this all firsthand. I, myself, am an alpha mom type. In my case, with the second and third baby, I learned an important lesson:

Our babies actually don’t need us as much as we think.

They don’t need us to actively show them things. They are constantly exploring. They are natural scientists who are constantly gathering data from their surroundings. They’re finding patterns, noticing repetition and are continuously watching us very closely.

When we set out to actively enrich them, they don’t learn from our lesson plan, they learn from our unconscious behavior.

Babies are like mirrors, imitating our moves, our style, and our social behavior. Then we, in turn, mirror them back.

So here’s the tip for today: Let your baby lead you for 3 minutes (or more!)

  • Where to be: Join your baby in the same position he or she is in. If she’s lying down, lie down next to her. If he is sitting playing, sit next to him. If she is on the move, walk with her and explore what she is exploring.
  • What to do: Try to experience what she is experiencing. Try to imagine what she’s feeling in her hands or in her mouth. Now, all you need to do is try to see the world through her eyes.
  • What to say: You don’t need to say anything or do anything. Your baby is doing it all for herself. We are just there to be present with them in their exploration and get a lesson from them on how to be present in play.
  • What to watch: Look at your baby solely to see where they are looking. This is a mindfulness exercise. It is much more challenging than it sounds. (We spend most of our time gazing at our babies because they are beautiful and fascinating.)

What you may find is that your baby is on a constant quest to learn. He or she doesn’t actually need us to be the teacher. They just need us to make the classroom available. And the classroom is everything around us.

By the way, this is not just for babies. This is for kids of all ages. The 8 year old who is building stuff out of lego or boxes might want us to just sit nearby and be present with them. The 4 year old coloring might want us to join them in their process without showing them what to do, or even doing anything ourselves, rather just silently noticing or commenting on the process.

So the bottom line: You can relax. Your child knows how to learn. You just have to set the stage and let them lead.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful has it been planning enrichment activities? COMMENT below and let me know.

Is our neighbor doing more to make their baby a genius? Heavens no! Have you ever felt that? how do you handle it?

Ever want to be a mythbuster? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Share this with your parent friends and bust the enrichment myth wide open for them. You don’t know until you know!

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One way to feel happier today

Hello, dear parents,

Today’s Tuesday Tune-In highlights a simple and quick happiness technique. I use it in groups all the time and do it on my own as well.

It involves two things: Grounding through breath and feeling grateful.

I write to you today from sunny Florida where I am spending spring break with my family. It’s pretty easy to feel happy when on vaca heading for a morning run on the beach. But even here, with family dynamics abound and surprises that arise I need to keep this easy tip in mind. And in my day to day I do this ALL the time.

There’s so much research in positive psychology that shows the benefits of having a gratitude practice. In short, it makes us happier.

This is a technique you can do while you’re breastfeeding, pushing a stroller, changing a diaper, or even while your baby is crying in your ear.

We all need a go-to technique when we are experiencing lack of sleep, hormone shifts and the endless physical exertions of parenthood.

Plus, not sleeping enough makes us irritable. We can have 5 highs and 5 lows all in the same hour. Our inner resources are depleted and annoyances that we might have been able to handle otherwise become too much.

Along with all that, caring for a baby means constant trouble shooting and that is stressful. Every time I had a small baby, I felt I was in survival mode during the first year.

This technique is also good to turn to when you have way too much on your plate, like I have had recently – growing my business, ushering one kid into middle school, making time to be fully present with the kids at home, working late hours, preparing for summer, keeping healthy and a thousand other things that I’m sure you relate to.

So what can we do? It’s so simple. It’s so short. And it’s also so effective.

My happiness technique: 3 Grateful Breaths

Take in 3 deep breaths. On every breath out, think of something you’re grateful for.

Don’t plan ahead of time what you’re grateful thing will be. Let it come to you as you start to breathe out. Let yourself be surprised by what it might be.

You may feel grateful for big things like your kids, your partner, your health, etc. Or you may feel grateful for things that seem insignificant and menial like forks, or diapers or a drink that you like.

In order to really tune in to what you’re feeling grateful for at that moment, let yourself really feel the breath in. Fill up your belly, your lungs, let your shoulders move and, rather than force in a deep breath, let yourself receive a deep and nourishing breath.

As you breathe out and think of what you’re grateful for, try not to just think it but instead  feel it. There’s a big difference between the two.

The way I gauge for myself whether I really feel gratitude in a particular moment is if I get the chills a little bit. When I breathe out and am really tuned in and feel deeply what I’m grateful for (whether it’s toilet paper or the health of my parents), I know I’m feeling it fully when I tremble just a little bit.

Three breaths seems like nothing. Can it really have an effect on your day? I think it can.

And the thing is, it’s so short and you can do it anywhere. If it can really make you happier , than why not give it a shot?

Try it. What popped into your mind? COMMENT below and let me know.
One time for me, it was iced tea. I thought it was silly but then realized it represented satisfying my own needs and I really was grateful for tending to myself, even in small ways. Yours?

Know anyone who breathes? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.
Seriously. If you’re alive, you can do this. It takes so little time and has such big impacts. Send this to your breathing friends.

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A quick way to feel present with your baby

Good, good morning to you – moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers.

It’s time for The Tuesday Tune In. This week, I’m telling you one super-quick, super-easy way to be present with your children.

You know that moment when our babies or kids ask us to do something “one more time”? I know you do.

We all love their desire for more Together Time – but in that moment we can pass on the opportunity. Often it’s because it’s nearing the end of the day and we’re too worn out. Or we see that little bit more as just TOO MUCH right then.

Or – if you’re like me – you’re just so ready for the fast-approaching Me Time.

So, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to tell you to try this week:

Push yourself to do that thing ONE MORE TIME.

For my kids, it’s an extra hug after bedtime kisses.

Have you ever seen a horse nearing the stable after a long walk? That’s when the horse’s walking turns into a trot because they know they’re almost home.

At 7:55pm, I feel me-time becoming a reality and I start to gallop home. And it’s right when I reach the stable when the kids each ask for one more hug.

For your child it might be asking for you to rock them one more time, to walk the curb like a balance beam one more time or to sing a chorus one more time.

I say, for the next week, Let’s see what happens when we push ourselves to give in for those two extra minutes – whether it’s the extra hug, the detour or the added rocking.

One of my biggest struggles as a parent is to do all of the things I do every day (career, errands, tasks, social life) and also find a way to be fully present with my kids.

I’ve found that this is one simple shift in my behavior that changes everything.

One day recently I went back and lied down with my daughter in her bed for a moment and I gave her a long, delicious hug. I let my tasks go. The emails would wait. The mess would still be there. And I gave in to two minutes of being fully present with her.

Later I realized that it was the best part of my day.

How did I realize the power of “one more time”?
I wrote the extra hug in my Five Minute Journal.

A couple weeks ago, I sent out an email about a practice called The Five Minute Journal by Tim Ferriss. (Read that full post here.)

I noticed that at the end of the day, when I was writing my list of amazing things that happened that day, I would consistently write about the extra hug. And then the next day when I was writing my list of what would make the day great I started to put down the extra hug. Because: Why wouldn’t I make my day amazing?

So try it. See if it makes your day amazing, too.

What’s your child’s “one more thing”? Comment and let me know.
One last dance-off? One last tickle fight? It’s different for every child. I want to know yours. Drop me a line here.

Glad you read this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it – one more time!
Quick. Now. Before you’re ready to move on to Me time! Forward to a friend, you good samaritan.

Do you have a friend with a baby who needs sleep asap? Send them the Easy-Bedtime Lullaby Kit.

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