by Kim Parcher
Source: Island Parent Magazine
Original Article: Click Here
Originally Published: May 2011
A term that seems to be on a lot of people’s radars lately is “distracted parenting.” These days, we appear to be moving away from being “helicopter parents”—where we constantly hover over our children and cater to their every need—and more towards being parents who are no longer 100 per cent present when interacting with our children. Many of us can be heard saying “Just a minute…” while continuing to text on our BlackBerries.
Information is so easy to access these days. At the click of a button you can find out about current world events, or what your friend is having for lunch. Between writing and checking status updates on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, checking and replying to e-mails, using the internet to find answers to every possible question, blogging, gaming, and keeping up with favourite TV shows, it’s no wonder that we are distracted.
Although the term “distracted parenting” is closely associated with being addicted to tech devices, I also feel that there is another form of distraction that shouldn’t be ignored, something that I like to call ‘life distractions.’ The term refers to those moments when you are trying to spend quality time with your children, yet you are constantly thinking about what else you should be doing (exercising), what needs doing (the dishes), or what you would rather be doing (reading).
I find these life distractions the hardest to escape. You can put down the iPhone or stop the typing, but just try and concentrate on—and enjoy—moving a Candy Land game piece around the board when you would rather be doing anything else. For me these life distractions are getting in the way of being able to enjoy my children’s company. I can’t seem to find the enjoyment anymore in playing blocks or dolls with my children. It is starting to feel more like a task, and if I am honest with myself, a task that I am desperately trying to find ways to avoid.
I don’t believe that I have always been this way. When I think back to when my daughter was little, our time together was plentiful and meaningful. I loved spending every minute with her. I would never dream of doing anything for myself except during the times when she was peacefully sleeping. So what has changed?
Before I try and answer that question, I have to add (alright, maybe justify) that I do believe it is much easier to be a more focused and present parent with your first child, as everything is new, exciting and different. Nevertheless, to answer my own question of what’s changed… I think that it is me. I’ve changed.
After being at home with my children full time for almost five years, I am starting to realize that there is, and should be, more to me than just being Mom. I actually have wants and needs that must be fulfilled too. These wants and needs are, and should be, just as important as my children’s wants and needs. Shocking revelation, I know. I want to have hobbies again. I want to be able to earn a paycheque again. I want to write. I want to take some cooking courses. I want to…well, you get the idea.
On top of having all of the aforementioned wants and needs, I also feel like I have the right to take a few minutes each day to blog, check e-mails, or log into my Facebook account. So not only am I preoccupied by what life has to offer me, I am also technically distracted and finding it difficult to find the appropriate balance between it all.
Finding the perfect balance between giving your children some undivided attention, and allowing yourself time to do some things that you enjoy—while not feeling guilty about doing them—is a challenge for any parent. This is where my struggle lies. Not only have I not been able to find a perfect balance (or even a decent balance) between my children’s needs and my own, but when I do finally execute an activity for myself I feel guilty for doing so.
In an ideal world, guilt would be an emotion that we did without. Why should we feel guilty about wanting to do something for ourselves? Children don’t need helicopter parents hovering around them all day long. In fact, on the occasions when I have said to my children “Just a minute please” and carried on with what I was doing, they magically found a solution to the problem on their own. Yet the majority of parents, including me, carry guilt around like a bad accessory. We struggle with the fact that it is okay to have wants and needs of our own. It is okay to take some time out for ourselves. It is okay to be linked in or logged on at certain times during the day. It is okay to want to have a life outside of our children’s. And, from time to time, it’s okay to hover close by.
Kim Parcher is a wife and mother of two who lives in Yellow Point. She also writes a blog, which allows her to share the joys and challenges of being a stay-at-home mom.
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Island Parent Magazine
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