Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hands Free Mama (and Papa) update

About two months ago I posted about starting a journey to becoming "Hands Free." This decision was really prompted by my husband. He was excited about making a positive change in our house that put more emphasis on being "together" during our together time.  As busy parents, we often felt pulled by the demands of technology and the temptation of technology.  While technology was often needed for checking in with work, or sending an urgent email, it had become a way to "check out" for a few minutes and justify that lapsed time in parenting.

While we are two months into our journey, we are only about a chapter into our book.  Why are things going so slowly?  This main issue is getting the time to sit down and discuss the book together.  However, I also love this new time that my husband and I are setting aside. It's a great way for us to discuss the book and other things going on in our lives.  It's a way to make a meaningful connection and really appreciate the other person's thoughts and ideas. 

We are also focusing on taking our time with the book and really taking some of the messages to heart.  Some of the first weeks challenged us to take a careful look at our time and how we were spending it, but we are noticing some wonderful changes in our house.  Phones, for the most part, stay put away and out of arms reach during certain times of the day.  This is creating a much better relationship as a family: I appreciate it when my husband is paying attending to the kids, I notice new things that the kids are doing and thinking about, and we have more genuine conversation when everyone is "checked in".

Although putting down the technology sounds really easy, it was great that my husband and I started this process together.  I don't think either of us realized how dependent we had become on technology.  There were certainly times where one of us had to remind the other person, "Hey, this is tech-free time.  Don't forget." It really helped that we were working on this together and making the change together.  Not only that, I also feel like we are making a real difference for our kids.  Recent studies showed that parents respond more harshly to kids when they are focused on their smart phones. I also saw a featured news story that discussed how kids are more prone to misbehave when parents are occupied with technology.  Kids want and need our undivided attention and this should minimally occur during certain hours of the day.

One thing that I still struggle with is, now that I'm better about putting the technology away, I want to fill that time with other tasks.  Suddenly starting a load of laundry, washing dishes, or cleaning the kitchen becomes really important.  Of course, these things need to get done too and we only have so many hours in a day to get everything done (or, like often happens, dirty dishes sit for 3 days).  I'm focusing on reminding myself that the Hands Free times are really time to do just that: take a break, focus on togetherness, and let the other stuff wait.  It's not easy and I would love to hear how others address these issues.

Some of the exciting things I noticed and did during Hands Free time:
  • I read a book to baby E that had different activities to do.  After listening and seeing the activities for the first time, he actively participated when we read the book a second time (grabbing the pretend comb and combing the hair on the little person in the book)
  • I played pretend with my daughter. She used her imagination to set up a beach area for her dolls and instructed me how to play with one of the dolls. She communicated about what types of activities the dolls were doing and used different voices for each of the dolls.
It's such a great reminder that I would be missing these subtle moments, yet wonderful memories, if I was focused on doing chores or responding to emails. Needless to say, there have been many more dirty dishes around our house and many wonderful moments!

1 comment:

  1. wish my husband read so that i could convince him to read this with me. i feel like we both "check out" a little too often these days.