MOMMYHOOD: How to be more "present'
Coming off of the "great unplugged family experiment", I realized how very distracted with multitasking all this technology has made us. Ironically enough, there was a great article in Real Simple this month (September issue) that was written by a man who was struggling with just that. He decided to create an experiment of his own to be more in the "present". It meant he had to force himself to turn off his blackberry at times and not answer the phone, or turn off the TV for a period of time. The article documents his journey and struggles doing this day to day, like a journal. It is really well written, often funny and at times poignant.
I find myself, as an "urban domestic diva" trying to keep all things in balance, constantly distracted. My mind is constantly wandering to what is the next thing I have to do or remember. Add in a "creative soul" to that balance, and my husband sometimes wonders if I am even on the same planet with him! What I mean is that the creative process never turns off. If I have a project I am working on, it is often when I am most relaxed at home, doing chores or hanging with my family that my mind percolates in the background on possible ideas for work. This may sound like a good thing, but most of the time, it isn't. I say this because I am really missing out on living in the moment–really enjoying my time with my family and with my child. Time is so fleeting and we have so little of it to have with our loved ones, when we are with them, we should REALLY be WITH THEM. E-mail, the "siren" called the Internet (that's what this author called it, pretty apropos), voicemail, video, DVD, cable - they all enhance the ability to multitask but distract from the moment. Beyond starting to turn things off around him, this author started to do one simple thing, and it seemed to help him live more in the present. I started to do it, too, and it really helped me.
The magic bullet is to simply tell yourself what you are doing, right at that moment. Reaffirm with yourself in your mind what it is you should be focused on and enjoying. It was amazing how it helped my mind quiet down and I could move into the "present" again. The minute I caught myself wandering to thoughts of the laundry, the email I needed to send, the print ad ideas I needed to think about, I would reaffirm what I was supposed to be doing at that time, and I focused again. For instance, we were swimming and splashing as a family, and my mind would wander to tasks needing to get done, and I was missing out on my daughter's laughter and the funny retorts she was giving my husband. I told myself "You are enjoying splashing in the water with your daughter. You are with your family", and it brought my mind right there. I know it sounds weird, but try it. It really is helping me stay in the moment and get more out of my very precious time with my family.