Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Focus Time

I heard a story the other day about a little boy who was trying to talk to his grandpa.  Grandpa was reading the newspaper and, like we often do, thinking about grown up concerns and issues while he "listened." After apparently feeling that he wasn't getting the attention he deserved, the little boy pulled the newspaper down, put his hands on both of his grandpa's cheeks, looked straight into his eyes and asked "GRANDPA, ARE YOU IN THERE?!"

I know how that grandpa feels.  Sometimes I will suddenly realize that while one of my children is reciting every detail about his or her day, my mind is drifting between what I will be making for dinner and how we will plan for retirement.

My kids deserve my attention but to be quite honest sometimes I need to remind myself to listen.  I've come to realize that just being in the same room will in no way guarantee that I get to know my children's hopes and dreams and concerns. I need to FOCUS!

And just as this thought was beginning to drift into my wandering mind I happened to run across the blog of a friend of ours.  She had posted about a recent mommy and son date where the only real activity planned was to focus on her little boy.  It was, quite simply, FOCUS TIME. 

Here's an example:
She needed to go to the grocery store.  So, she decided to make this a "FOCUS DATE" with her son.  She took ONLY HIM to the store.  And, instead of rushing through the store and trying to keep him occupied with something else, she made the trip about him.  He helped her with the list.  They looked at everything he wanted to look at.  He directed the conversation and she actively responded to his comments about his favorite cereal with things like "really, I didn't know that about you. what do you love about it?  What else do you love to eat?" etc.  And she didn't hurry, and it was a date, note a chore.

She accomplished a job while really connecting with her child.  Sure, it took longer.  But it meant alot more. 

So, I decided to try it out.  I made a date with my daughter for a Saturday when my husband could be home.  We had a few errands to run and she was pleased that it was just the two of us who would be going.  After the errands were complete, we wandered around the mall and talked about what we liked.  We got free chocolate samples from a candy store, and we tried to find a music store just so that we could look at voilins...because she just wanted to.  There was really no "ACTIVITY" planned.  But for several hours I just listened to her talk about whatever she wanted and focused on showing her that what she was saying mattered to me.  And at the end of our outing I had been reminded that she is more than just a little kid.  She is an incredible little person with her own thoughts and ideas and her own little life. 
How often should I do this?  Well, I think as much as I possibly can.  At least once a week whenever possible. Take some time to make a conscious effort to just focus.  Obviously it can't always be a few hours long.  Maybe a twenty minute focuse session.

1-CHOOSE A TIME THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILD CAN HAVE A DATE.  ANY ACTIVITY THAT YOU CAN DO TOGETHER.  FIX THEIR BIKE, GO GROCERY SHOPPING, GO ON A WALK.  DO NOT MAKE IT FANCY!!! I REPEAT, DO NOT MAKE IT FANCY!!!  This is not about the activity at all really.  It's about your attention.  I used to love to go to the dump with my dad to drop off junk...case in point.

2- DON'T BRING ANYONE ELSE.  Other siblings, friends, etc. will take the attention from your child.  Find away to make this a date for two.

3- DO NOT TRY TO HURRY.  Take your time, give all of your attention and thoughts to what your child is saying and doing.

4- FOCUS AND ENJOY!  Let your child be center stage.  Don't talk on your phone or text or worry about anything else for the moment.  Just enjoy being together and listen.

THAT'S IT!  Plan a focus date with your child today and find out what you've been missing.

My hope?  The more that they see that I'm listening, the more they will want to tell me.  And every conversation will deepen our connection as a family.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I think this is the very basic way to ensure that your children won't be hesitant to KEEP telling you things as they grow up.