The phrase ‘being present’ seems to have become increasingly popular lately. I’ve read numerous articles about how mums and dads need to be more ‘present’ when they are with their children, a partner not being ‘present’ in a relationship. It is certainly easy to get distracted with mobile phones, laptops, iPads, social media addiction, daily chores and work pressures on your mind.
Whilst I try to limit the amount of time I’m spending doing all of these things when I’m with my children, I have to be realistic, I have chores that need to be done, emails that need responding to, appointments that need to be made etc. I try to have a balance, however there are times when I’m with the girls, I find myself getting sucked into Facebook a little longer than I expected, or emails or housework, repeating “just a minute”, “hang on”, “I’m coming”, “I just need to do this and then I’ll be with you”. To which they either shout, “Look mummy”, “now mummy”, louder and louder until I get annoyed with them and give in or if they aren’t getting a reaction from me, they eventually retreat and go off to play.
Quite often when they go off and play, I remove any guilt I may have felt for fobbing them off – convincing myself that it is good for them to learn to play independently of me. Just the other day, whilst I was busily on my laptop doing the weekly online shop, the girls finally gave up waiting for me. I later found them making a huge bed behind the sofa with all their duvets and pillows (in fact all the duvets and pillows they could get their hands on). It was cute to see them playing so well together and I immediately felt ok about having taken a little longer to do the shopping than expected. They were having fun and I’d achieved what I needed to. But I couldn’t help feeling like I’d missed out.
I do believe wholeheartedly that children need to learn to play independently of their parents. However, what I am noticing more and more is just how much they enjoy it when I am totally ‘present’ with them. They make up little adventures for us to go on to which I play along. I don’t question them when they tell me that the plastic banana they have handed me is a bus ticket or that the space behind the back of the sofa which I am now uncomfortably squashed into with them, is an aeroplane. Their little faces beam from cheek to cheek, their laughter is proper belly filled hysterical and contagious. What’s more when I fully immerse myself into their world of make-believe and adventure, playing along with their games, when we are all truly ‘present’ – It’s not just them who has fun.