Get out a piece of paper and something to write with. Got it? Cool.
I want you to focus for a few minutes and read this article straight through, beginning to end. Every time you get interrupted or distracted by anything -- phones, email, people, TV show, radio ad or an overwhelming urge to check some web site -- make a quick note of it. I think the results will surprise you.
Now, on to today’s main points...
Multitasking doesn’t work. Forgive me for being blunt, but it’s true. And it fails in a particularly spectacular way if you try applying it to family time with your kids.
Think about the last time you talked to someone who was watching TV, doing something on a computer, or splitting their attention between you and some other task.
How did that conversation go for you? Did you feel like the person was really interested in what you were saying? Did they give you the best of their time? Did they make you feel like you mattered?
But what if the person had completely stopped what they were doing, turned to you and gave you their full attention -- looking at you, focused on you, leaning forward slightly and listening attentively?
How would you feel then? Yep, it’s a big difference.
That is precisely what happens at home when you read a magazine, watch TV or obsessively check your smart phone during time with your kids. Except you -- the most important adult in their lives -- are doing it to them now, instead of a co-worker doing it to you.
Focusing during family time doesn’t take a lot of work. In fact, it’s pretty simple:
- Either silence your phone or leave it in another room. Or, best of all, just turn it off and put it away. It’s very powerful when you do that in front of your children, especially if they regularly see you attached to the phone time after time. That single step of powering it down and putting it away makes a tangible statement that you’re focusing on them right now. That’s powerful stuff.
- Turn off the TV or go to a room that doesn’t have a TV. That’s an unnecessary distraction. Yes, football or basketball with the volume turned down counts as a distraction, too. Don’t do it.
- Put on some music if you want to, but keep it low. Make it easy to talk over the soundtrack.
Congratulations! With that, you set the stage for some truly connected family time.
Now, let’s turn back to our experiment. Did you get interrupted or distracted while reading this?
If you didn’t, that’s great! But the odds are that some bright shiny object captured your attention and drew you away from this for a moment.
My goal is simple: I want you to be aware of the distractions in your world. If you aren’t aware of them, you can’t change them.
If you want to create the best possible connection with your kids, it takes some focused time. Fifteen minutes of focused time is better than 30 minutes where your attention wanders all over God’s green Earth.
Turn off the technology, ignore the phone and focus completely on your kids for a few minutes. The difference it makes will astound you.