Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it - William Feather
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“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, which is why they call it the present.”
Being present is about enjoying what is going on around you and not missing out because of distractions that are less important. Phones ringing, notifications dinging, text messages, emails, worries, these are all things that are stealing the present moments that we have to look around and see and enjoy how great life is.
Living in the present moment is one of the hardest challenges that we have as Dads. We have got many things vying for our attention, our phones, TV, work, phone calls, emails, our friends, hobbies, future dreams and concerns and of course, our families. These are all good things in balance and in their place of importance, the problem is that they are usually all calling to us at once!
You have got so many moments to enjoy Dads, this chapter is how to enjoy and not miss them…. and how to create more of them! I know that the removing distractions keys will really help de-clutter your head space.
Why is it important to be present?
Have you ever been driving along the road, started daydreaming and then snapped back to reality and thought, I can’t even remember driving the last 5 kilometres! You have been on Autopilot and missed what was happening right in front of you! This can happen in parenting, and in Marriage, because of the hustle and bustle of family and life, we can just switch on Autopilot and be distracted and miss out on the great moments happening around us.
We need to enjoy the years with our kids at home. Kids are so fun, they keep us young. Our job is not just to raise responsible tax paying citizens, its is to interact, play with, laugh with and enjoy the presence and personality of these younglings (sorry Star Wars reference).
The number one thing that parents with kids who have left home say is this:
‘Enjoy your family while they are growing up,
it goes by so fast and they will soon be gone.’
Looking back at the end of your life you will know what the most important things were
I know that when you are on your deathbed, many years from now, you will not be saying ‘I wish I spent more time at work, read one more Facebook post or watched just one more season of Game of Thrones’. You are going to be thinking about the people in your life and how you spent lifes moments with them.
So, here are two keys that will really help you enjoy your moments today:
1/ How to be present in a moment
2/ Recognising Distractions and dealing with them
1/ Here is how to be present How to give full attention to your family in a moment:
Put distractions away - turn off the TV, put your phone away on charge
Think and realise that these people are the most precious thing in your life
Look at them, make eye contact
Think of the things that you are thankful for about them
Ask them an open ended question: ‘what was the favourite thing in your day?’ and wait and listen for an answer, then counter with a question based on their answer - ‘how did you feel about that’
Think of what they love doing: ‘playing with Lego, reading, sports’ and join in and engage on that activity.
Think, if I were them; ‘what could Dad do in this moment that would be special to me’.
Try and spend 5-10 minutes of quality time every day with each member of your family.
2/ Recognising Distractions and dealing with them
One of the top things stopping us enjoying time with our kids are distractions. Our modern culture is full of them, clambering for our time. So what is consuming your mind and attention:
Smart Phones, Work, Worries, Tiredness, television…?
Barriers to being fully present and how to put them in their place:
Devices - They are like a dog that just wants to lick your face. Running at you, jumping up and demanding your attention. What is it about the device that takes your attention? Emails, notifications, social Media, phone calls, alerts.
Solution: Here is how to put the device in its place. Emails only on work time, Having an answering machine. Plugging your phone in and giving it a spot to sit in when you are at home. Giving social media a special time of day and not letting it invade the whole day.
Work and work problems -
Solution: Keep work at work. You only get paid for the time that you are at work so be really efficient in those hours. Put an auto reply on your email outside of work hours: ‘I check and answer emails between 9-5pm’. This can be harder with a small business where you need all of the business you can generate, so block out an hour of family time in the morning and evening and rely on the answering machine to manage people’s expectations.
Worries - Worries about the future will steal your present moment.
Solution: Write down what you are worried about and 1-2 ideas for how you will deal with it. When the worried thought comes into your head next, remind yourself that you have possible solutions and will work on it later. Studies have shown that approximately 80% of the things that you worry about will never happen.
Tiredness - Being tired minimises every moment by not fully being able to be in it. Your kids and family get a grouchy Zombie to live with instead of a loving Father.
Solution: Tomorrow starts tonight, discipline yourself to go to Bed at a certain time. Aim for 7-8 hours per night.
Television - Or online videos - these can suck up hours of your time while you ‘numb out’ watching them.
Solution: Try going without TV for a week and have your eyes opened to what big part it is in our lives and how we use it to distract us from life. Try reading a book, going for exercise or talking to your wife.
Go for it Dads, you will enjoy life so much more by putting everything in its place of importance, i’m excited to hear your stories of removing distractions and being able to live in the moment. Be the Present in the Moment Dad