Resources for the Intentional Parent

Is my screen time hurting my kids?

A “Super Mom” is how my community sees me. I am literally the work from home professional, the “soccer mom” with healthy treats always in tow, the goes to the field trips and has (for the most part) well behaved children, “Super Mom.” So basically, I’ve got life, or at least this parenting things, figured out, right? Well if I am completely honest and real about it, I don’t know that any of us ever actually figure it out. Sure, we find things that work with our kids, and for us that make the day to day go a little more smoothly, but life is just a big old ball of chaos waiting to roll over your well designed plans in a heartbeat.

So as I look at what I am “lacking” as a parent, one thing is constantly coming to mind (and I think at some level or another…we all face this as parents today). So I humble myself and tell you that I struggle (big time) with making sure I am present and intentional with my time as parent. In today’s world of technology I am always, literally ALWAYS, connected…sometimes I find that something as simple as a phone can come between me and my connection with my kids.

It didn’t always used to be like that. In fact, I still remember the times of flip phones and the “Yahoo Bellow” announcing a new email message had arrived like it was yesterday. But today, taking an hour to respond to an email is too long because everyone is always connected…but at what cost? The reality is, kids learn far more from WATCHING us than they do by LISTENING to us.

The cost to my family is the “Can you wait until mommy is done typing before you ask that?” Or how about “I am working right now sweetie, can we talk about that later?” The constant unavailability has to be damaging my connection with my kids. Do they know they are important? They have to know I love them, right? But what if they just see face value that work comes before them sometimes. That a phone gets more attention than they do? It makes me wonder on a global scale in 10 years if that “damage” will be very apparent on a mass scale because of the influence of technology, not just on our kids, but because of OUR CONSUMPTION and the effects that has on our kids’ self-esteem, confidence, connection and overall well-being.

I read an article the other day that brought me back to a book I read years ago in my sales career “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. He has a genius quadrant system that you can place every task, every goal, everything in your life into…rating things from a scale of “Urgency” and “Importance”. With technology today, we tend to easily focus on things that we perceive are in quadrants 1, 3 or 4 of the Covey illustration. These quadrants include things like household chores, answering emails and even playing around on Facebook. But at what cost? The place we are least likely to focus our attention is what lies in Quadrant 2…the things that are “Important” but “Not Urgent”. These are usually more long term and meaningful goals and include tasks like teaching our children a new skill, or spending quality time with them…even things like financial planning or wellness checks get put on the back burner for us busy moms and dads because the pressing items in the other quadrants tend to get more priority, as they are pressing even though they are not as important.

Genius Quadrants

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My revelation was that I want to live more in Quadrant 2. To focus on what is Important and Long Term and might not have a deadline but the things that ultimately will determine my family’s quality of life. My kids, and my husband, need me to live in the Quadrant 2 more often…because frankly, that is where they live. Spending time with them doesn’t have a “requirement” it is not “Urgent” but you better bet that it is “Important”. They are important, the most important. So letting my email, my work, my chores get in the way of my family is allowing the wrong message to make it into the minds of my children. They are important and need to be treated as nothing less than the focus of my world. I know there will be a balance, as answering emails and working is part of our family and part of what makes me me…but I am going to be very intentional about making my kids feel Important and loved and valued.