In recent years, I’ve gotten into a bad habit.
I’ve allowed myself to be a perpetually distracted mom. Fully focusing on the task or family member right in front of me became something I had to work really hard to be intentional about. But I often failed.
If we were watching a movie as a family, I brought my laptop along so I could work on the next blog post or write tasks and dates in my planner.
If I were sitting on the floor playing dolls with my three year-old, my phone was close so I could see if that important email came through.
If one of my older kids wanted to tell me something, I’d say “Just a minute, I’m working on something really important. I’m almost done.” Twenty minutes later, I still wasn’t done. And I still hadn’t listened to what they wanted to share.
In the words of Yoda, “Fully present I was not.”
I’d fallen into the trap of attempting to be productive at the wrong times. Family life (a big family at that) left little time for my work, so I got really good at squeezing it into the nooks and crannies of my day. Leaving me ten minutes here to get some paperwork filled out, 30 minutes there to do some writing, 5 minutes way over there to sent that email.
Working this way wasn’t actually productive for me at all. It was a futile effort. And it left me (and my family) frustrated.
My work was still left undone and my family was rarely getting all of me for any given amount of time. I was on duty non-stop — either working, or devoting time to my family. But wasn’t doing either particularly well. Neither was getting the best of me. And rest? Well, that wasn’t happening either even though I was desperate for it.
Though not as much as I dream of having, and not in the way I’d most wish, there is time for me to work uninterrupted when I’m not stealing time from my family. There is time for me to get all of my things done before a single child needs me or wants to show me something.
But it involves the mention of two little words I’ve despised in the past: early and morning.
Staying up late to get my work done has been my go-to for years. But as I get older (ouch) and as life feels squeezy-er, I’m complete mush by 9 pm. My brain cells need to be off-duty by then. Reading is good, social media is fine, and so is lounging at that point in the night. But actually work? Nuh-uh. It’s not going to happen. But still I’ve tried to make it work. It’s peaceful in the house, after all. How often does that ever actually happen?
But I’m learning that I’m the most productive in the morning, once I’ve been up for a bit and have been in God’s Word (I’m currently enjoying Bible Study using the First 5 app on my iPhone). I’m way less stressed and have loads more attention to give to my people once the boxes are checked off and the tabs are closed in the internet of my brain. But goodness, it’s hard to be good at this.
You’ll never find a 1-2-3 Let Me Show You How to Do This sort of post on this topic from me. It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress.
But I know what I want, I know what the Lord is asking me to do, and I’m willing. I want to get back to simpler times. Devoting my love, time, and attention to the ones I love most. Face-to-face with my full attention.
There are conversations waiting to be had, books waiting to be read together, and adventures waiting to be seized. What will I choose? I pray it’s to be much more intentional and much less distracted.
Who else needs to re-prioritize their day, so their family gets the best of them? Raise your virtual hand by commenting on Facebook or right here in the comments. I’d love to know who I can pray for and who else is along for the ride.