I joke, but really not joking, that sustaining attention is difficult these days, and that many of us suffer from some form of Attention Deficit Disorder. To tune out all distractions - the news, the texts, the endless to-do lists and to just be present is increasingly difficult if not impossible.
I found that being focused with my own children was easier when I used to commute for work. I knew when I would have the train ride to be on my phone, or a car ride to catch up with people. I also knew that when I came home I only had an hour or two before bedtime. Now, since I never go anywhere it’s more difficult and I find myself reaching for my phone more.
Two weeks ago, we had a COVID scare and had to remain at home until tests came back negative. We were lucky that they did, and this served as a wake up call to prepare (paper towels and toilet paper!) for the next wave.
The first day of having all of the children home, I have to say I was not prepared, not at all! At the end of the day the house was a mess. The kids had left their computers each in a different place that was not their desk. They had each left their books in a different place that was not their desk. We had done some math challenges and the chart paper was still on the floor in the middle of the room (I have to take full responsibility for that). It was a return to Spring 2020, and even though I had the extra math challenges, and books to read, I was not in the mindset to be Mary Poppins, especially as I juggled meetings and tasks for work.
Day two was better even though it was rainy. I committed to actively be more focused when I was in between meetings. This meant leaving my phone with my computer. I was still working, so I needed to take breaks from my children to check-in, but my phone was not an appendage. It meant coming up with a plan for a communal craft (I am extremely proud of this rain stick that we made). It also meant better meal planning (and in this case choosing to treat ourselves and ordering lunch in!). Day two felt successful despite the all day rain.
Day three we spent time cleaning and organizing bedrooms and game cabinets (because I know that we will be playing more games as the weather gets colder). We took a long hike outside, and worked on this wreath craft. I mixed on the success of the wreath. I can’t say I think it’s truly beautiful, but the beading supports everyone’s fine motor skills and it ate up a lot of time. Everyone could work on beading their own strand and then putting it on later. It could be made with seasonal colors instead of this random mess of things. But having the completed wreath (for however long we keep it) brings a sense of productivity to the group.
The point is that we should all think about what the coming days, weeks and months will look like. Whether we are thinking about how we will be on the weekends (when there is no pod!), or in the afternoons when we are responsible for our children. Are there games that you enjoy playing? If so, play them without your phone nearby. Contrary to what we wish, we really cannot multitask very well. Your children notice when you don’t focus on them ( I am not saying to always focus on them- that would be terrible!). Be intentional when you can provide undivided attention, and when you cannot.
Are there crafts or supplies that you are going to want for the winter? Order them now! Michaels has a 20% off code right now "20MADEBYYOU" And feel free to reach out if you want suggestions. Just because the craft is made doesn’t mean you need to keep it forever.
If you suggest a family movie night and want them to watch the movie, then you too should model the same thing (I have to say I enjoyed watching “Jingle Jangle” last weekend, I know of others that are watching classic movies from the 80s). When they are teenagers and all have their phones, what do you want movie night to look like? Are you ready to take out the puzzles again? (I am not yet!). Any recipes you want to try out that your children can help with? This will encourage them to be less picky eaters- and I find that they are willing to clean dishes if they have gotten to cook or bake with me. Even though it seems like I am always cleaning it’s not something that I enjoy.
Be deliberate. Start to prepare. We can all ride out the second wave together. We all will be stronger and wiser when this is all over. Choose to be present, really present when you can.