One of my parenting goals for 2023 is to be mindful of changing my job title from "Mom the Manager" to "Mom the Consultant" for my oldest child. At 17 years old and a junior in high-school, the reality that my son is almost legally an adult is hitting me.
My son deals with ADHD (and is very open with sharing that with others). As a result of weaknesses in certain executive functioning skills, over the years I've become accustomed to operating sort of like his "manager".
He struggled with time management, so I helped keep him on track.
He forgot things, so I doubled checked on them and reminded him.
He got distracted easily, so I adjusted things to help with attention.
He procrastinated on big projects, so I helped him break them down.
and so on, and so on...
All of these things had their time and place. But now, his skills are improving. His time management, active memory, attention and task initiation are getting better. I need to adjust my role from being his "manager", the one who makes sure it all gets done right, and on time... to being there as a "consultant". As a consultant I can still be present for him, but I also need to step back and allow him to take full ownership.
Maybe that sounds easy to you, but it's taking lots of mindfulness for me to change roles. Of course, it's easy when I think things are going well, and he's "managing" effectively. It's much much harder when I feel like his use (or misuse) of time is leading towards unpleasant results for him.
If you have an older child, and feel like you might want to move into the role of "consultant", rather than "manager" here are a few things that are helping me.
I want to invite you to join me in the "Phone Down Challenge" for two weeks.
Phone away for one hour a day
Here's what it looks like:
*Put your phone down for one hour in the afternoon when you're with your child/ children
Sounds simple, but we know it is likely to be hard. Stick with me.
When: an ideal time to do the phone down challenge is when you reconnect with your kids after school or after your work day.
If your kids are home with you all day, choose an hour, maybe after quiet time.
*turn the phone to silent if possible or use a "focus" setting, allowing calls from only your key contacts
*put the phone out of sight so you're not distracted by it
*create new patterns
*increased connection with your kids
*a chance for your mind to focus on just one thing, rather than multi-tasking
*increased peace and decreased frazzled feelings
*modeling for your kids
You've probably heard many times that we are more "connected" to others now than at any other time in history, YET people are feeling more alone.
This isn't just a cute saying, "more connected, yet more alone", it's real. It's happening in our homes, as we repeatedly pick up and stare at our phones, rather than give our loved ones our full attention, our loving eye contact, our time and connection. What might we be missing, as we check our social media on the side as our child is telling us about their day, or when we skip sitting down together for a meal or snack so we can get one more thing done on our device?
Our kids are learning by our example. It's sort of sad to see a row of parents staring at their phones at a park, rather than interacting with their kids, or a mom feeding her baby while scrolling her phone. Those moments of loving eye contact and connection matter. Our kids will be better equipped to have successful future relationships if we take the time now to show them what healthy connection looks like. Honestly, our phones distract us from doing this. Of course there are lots of great things our phones can do, I'm not suggesting we throw them away. But this challenge is about being more mindful. The benefits of putting the phone down for one hour a day will far out weight the inconvenience.
This challenge is for me as well. I can get sucked into the trap of trying to get one more thing done on my phone, and somehow prioritize that, over connecting with my child. I need to be mindful. I hope you will join me.
My expectation is that you'll start to see the benefits in these two weeks, and I hope you will want to continue with the Phone Down Challenge. But for now...can you commit to the challenge for two weeks?
Click the button and say "I'm in"
Here's a quick link to a video about the phone down challenge:
Have you ever felt like as soon as you get a handle on something in parenting...the game changes and you're back to trying to figure it out? It's a part of the parenting journey and for me, it's happened over and over again.
I remember feeling like that when my kids were little and I would finally get a grasp on nap times and bedtimes...only to have my kids grow and change and what worked before didn't seem to work again.
How about trying to motivate a kid?
*A sticker chart? Nope... those only worked for a few days, or maybe a a few weeks.
*Taking away their favorite things... hmmm, sure fire way to get a meltdown started.
*Hitting my frustration tolerance and raising my voice? No good, that leaves me and my child feeling bad.
Of course we could talk about addressing challenging behaviors...
Maybe you're finding your tools aren't working as well as they used to.
Maybe what works for your friend's kids, or your sister's kids just doesn't seem to work with your unique child.
Regardless of the age or season our kids are in, we can become more confident leaders in our homes.
Here are a few things to think about: