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Do you find yourself de-stressing by hiding in your phone? Or maybe you’re one of those people who cleans obsessively when stressed. Maybe you are overcome with worry every time you should be carefree with your family. Being present can be particularly hard for moms. We are the queens of multi-tasking. We try so hard as moms to be as present as possible when we spend time with our families. The problem is that distractions are EVERYWHERE!
I remember my first summer home with my baby boy, who was 5 months old at the time. I was BEYOND excited to spend an entire summer break with just me and my boy! You know I was fully prepared for some hardcore mother-son bonding!
But then I noticed it was almost July…and that’s when the anxiety kicked in.
I felt time crunching down on me, and all these sweet precious moments with my son were going to disappear when I went back to school again in August. I felt like the proverbial sponge of my heart could not suck up enough moments for me to hold, and I began to feel horribly overwhelmed!
How on earth was I going to be able to make the most of my time with my son? So I set out on a bit of a quest and I surveyed my other mom friends.
I realized that what I was feeling is actually very common amongst other moms! So many moms deal with the feeling that time is bearing so much weight on them that they can’t just enjoy what they have! After surveying my mom friends, I began to implement some of the things that they suggested, as well as some of my own, and I came up with my top three favorite ways to become more present in the important moments of life:
Present tip #1- Chill out on your social media presence (at least for a little bit)
Have you ever looked at how much screen time you actually have in the day?
I remember one day when I was home in the summer with my son, and I opened up my phone to a notification from the Apple Screen Time app…I almost fell over when I saw how much screen time I had that week….
My screen time averaged FOUR HOURS A DAY!!!!!
“surely that is NOT accurate!” But just seeing how much time I spent on my phone made me painfully more aware that unfortunately my phone was not lying to me. I was spending almost 4 whole hours a day scrolling through the same Facebook posts I already read 24 times that day.
The other sobering thought that came to me was, “that was 4 hours I could have spent with my son.” That was the thought that changed the way I view my phone.
So I began to make it a point that at varying times of the day, I put my phone away. These days since I am still teaching full time, I put my phone away when I get home from work. That way I am not tempted to hide in my phone as a coping mechanism to destress from the day.
How can you lessen your screen time without going back to the stone age?
For my iPhone users, did you know you can set screen time limits on your phone? If you feel like you need a little additional help being away from your screen during family time, then this may be the solution for you!
All you have to do to set screen time limits is go into your settings, scroll down to “Screen Time”, then scroll down to the other options:
“Downtime” allows you to set a time of the day when you want your apps to be temporarily closed out for however long you want. For example, if you want to ensure that you (or your kids for that matter) are not on their phones for dinner time, then set your Downtime limits for whenever you usually eat dinner.
If you need to get into a particular app, you can open the app temporarily or ignore the limit for the day. So there can be some flexibility to your limits!
You can also set app limits and communication limits as well! They basically work like Downtime does, but it’s more specific. This would be great if you only want to limit social media, or if you wanted to quiet down those group chats for a period of time.
Tip #2- Try to think of at least 3 things to thank God for that day
I’m pretty open about my struggles with postpartum depression. Yet one of the hardest things to get through was the bitterness.
I know…I should have been so grateful for this beautiful life God blessed me with. Of course I should have been overflowing with holy gratitude.
Of course I was, and still am insanely grateful for my son. He is the greatest blessing I have ever received. But anyone who has also struggled with postpartum depression knows that the gratitude for your child is there and is very evident. Love is not the issue, it is bitterness. It is the bitterness of how complicated your life has become. Bitterness that things aren’t the way you want them to be.
I hated the bitterness I was experiencing. So I started to make it a point to find things to be grateful for during my day!
Gratitude is so simple, right?
Sure, it should be. That is until you’re swimming in 3,249 loads of laundry, and your dishwasher breaks. Or your son is teething and requires you to be 3 feet or less away from you. Oh yeah, and maybe you’re behind on lesson plans at work. Plus your husband has to stay late at work for the 4th time in a week. All of that can make you feel the tension of the day rising in your bones that you feel like you could literally explode at any moment. In the middle of that, it can be hard to say “I am grateful for _________.”
So even though I was challenging myself to have gratitude, I wasn’t very good at it! Most of the time, my gratitude check consisted of my husband naming something that he is grateful for. I usually responded with a snarky “yep.”
This all started changing when we started implementing a bedtime routine with our son. I decided that I wanted to implement a lifestyle of prayer in my son, so we started doing evening prayers.
My bitterness fought those words so badly the first few times I prayed over my son…
“Jesus, thank you for blessing me with my family…”
Why on earth was that so hard for me to say? Because all the bad that was going on in my life was so much I almost felt dirty saying it. It felt wrong at first to say I was grateful for my family. Especially when I was being a total grump!
But I stuck it out. I kept the evening prayers up. Goodness, I even did evening prayers for myself too (unfortunately, that was a rarity for me at the time). Gradually over time, I stopped feeling so bad for saying it.
What can gratitude do for the heart?
I noticed that my attitude started changing. I was laughing more with my son. Family time wasn’t a chore. I was discovering that my life, though very difficult, was still blessed. I started to believe again that he was there for me in my life. Believe it or not, I started believing Jesus was for me again!
Gratitude does wonders for how you perceive your life. Even the things that are happening that worth being upset about, become easier to navigate when you adopt a spirit of thankfulness.
Maybe begin with incorporating gratitude into your prayers. Make it a family moment when you share things you were grateful for that day.
Write it down! Whatever way you adopt, I am sure you will see it work in your life!
Another really great tool is a gratitude journal! Sometimes having that extra step of writing it down makes you dig deep for what you are grateful for. Here’s a really wonderful one from Dayspring
Present Tip #3- Smile, and let go of the worry!
Being present in the moment can be so difficult, especially when you know just how distant you have been! The guilt can be so hard to get past when you are working towards being a more present mom (or person for that matter).
I found that the moments when I was truly striving to be present in the moment, there would be guilt trying to sneak into my mind, reminding me of all the times when I wasn’t present. That sneaky little voice of Satan would derail my day by reminding me of all the times when I hid in my phone instead of played with my son, or the times when I was more grouchy than grateful.
Then I realized something, Satan focuses on your past, Jesus focuses on your future!
Satan wants to remind you of all the times when you weren’t present and he wants to call you a bad mom! But Jesus just wants you to see that you’re making active steps to doing better, and you’re on your way up!
You may have had lots of moments when you were distracted, not there, and hiding from reality, but that’s not you now! So let that go! Tell that sly little voice to shut up and start being proud of what you’re doing NOW!
Kiss guilt goodbye!
When guilt disappears, the laughs get sweeter.
The minute shame goes away, the sloppy baby kisses mean so much more.
When the worry dissipates, you actually believe it when your husband tells you that he loves you.
It is the intentionality behind your present-ness that makes it valuable and long lasting. It’s that deliberate choice that you’re going to soak in the moments with your family that makes being present not just your average new years resolution, but an actual lifestyle choice.
Do you have any tips on how to be more present in the important moments? Comment below and let me know!