Deepening the Quality of Interaction w/Our Little Ones (When we have very little time to spare)
I remember when I was single with no kids. I used to wonder how my fellow physician mom colleagues did it all. How did they wear as many hats as they did and get time for themselves, time for their families, and stay present through it all? It wasn't until I became a mom that I found the answer. Most physician moms just get it done because it has to be done. We are high performers. We do what needs to be done with little complaint, but usually, it's at the cost of our well-being, our peace of mind, and even our own happiness. We wouldn't readily admit this, but I've talked to so many Dr. Mommies who have shared the struggles with trying to "be all and do all". It's the classic "I'm Every Woman" rabbit hole. However, the thing that breeds the MOST Mommy Guilt is not getting enough time with the kids. We work, then come home in have to run the household. They go to school (or daycare), and then maybe have a host of extracurriculars. And when you are spending "quality time" with them, often worries of what's still undone are looming in your mind so you can't be fully present. So, how is it that we deepen the quality of our interaction when we have very little time to spare?First, we have to give up our belief that more time is the only answer. This may seem counterintuitive, but it's not always the quantity of time, but the quality of that time that matters. Which experience do you think your children prefer: Spending 3 hours with you constantly checking your phone, stressing about what you're not getting done, and mostly thinking about what's next on the list of "things to do"? Or spending 1 hour with you completely present and engaged in the time you are spending with laughter, fun, great conversation, lots of affectionate moments? Of course, we want more time with our families…with our spouse, kids, the people that we care about. However, what matters more than the time itself is what happens during that time. Because of my schedule, I don't get a ton of time during the week with my son, and he is away with his father two weekends a month. However, every day I make full use of the time we DO have together. We listen to his music in the car, and often are singing and dancing together on the way home from school. I sit down at the table each night for dinner while he eats (because his eating takes much longer than mine) and have a conversation with him. We usually have 15-30 minutes of cuddle time before bath time. I play games at bath time and use the bedtime routine as a time to connect. And I try to read a story to him each night.
These are the little things that we do that make what feels like constrained time frames feel more satisfying (to us both). Do I still feel guilty when I have to travel for a couple of days or have an evening meeting? Sure! A little…but when I'm told by the sitter that he has explained every little routine that we do together to her making sure she knew how "mommy does it", I know that those little efforts are making a difference. So, my question for you is what are those little things for your family? What are the little routines that could get created with your kids that inject fun and affection? What playful moments can you create that would matter to you and your kids (and even your spouse for that matter)?
1. Family Dinners at least 4 days a week – Have the kids help set the table, and even prepare dinner if possible
2. Play a conversational game at the dinner table to make that time interesting
3. Have story-time no matter what age the kids are… If they are older, let THEM make up the stories. Make the silly and fun.
4. Family chore time – have the kids help you with chores… make it a game… make it fun w/prizes
5. Have kid cuddle time – let them lay in your lap… as they watch their favorite kids show
6. Karaoke in the car – Choose a favorite song to sing and sing it together.
7. Exercise together – Dance games, take a short walk, or bike ride together in the neighborhood
These are just a few ideas, and I'm sure you have your own. If you are saying, "I don't see where I'd have the time for any of these" start small … maybe with the 15 minutes of cuddle time or sitting down at dinner rather than trying to get all the chores done while everyone else eats (GUILTY)! Leverage the time you DO get and work from there as you endeavor to clear your plate (and if you are having trouble clearing your plate you might think about reaching out to a physician coach-link to physician coaching page).
The bottom line is that it's possible to have the time that you currently spend be memorable even if it's short. You just need to be willing to put down the devices, pick up your imagination cap (I know… so corny and cliché) and be intentional and creative at the moment.
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Physicians Reclaim Your Time, Freedom and Live a Life YOU Design. Learn more about our physician coaching programs at www.stressfreemommd.com and our physician entrepreneur curriculums at www.nextlevelphysicians.com. To invite Dr. Clairborne to speak at your next conference, event, or retreat visit www.drmaiysha.com.