I am forever debating in my head if I’m giving enough attention to my child. Being a SAHM I am around my child most of the time in the morning preparing her for school, dropping her at the bus stop, picking her up in the afternoon, helping her with homework and also putting her to sleep. Not to forget the time spent trying to keep her fed and playing with her.
In terms of invested time and energy, I’m investing 65% of what I have on weekdays and perhaps 80% on weekends. But, still there are occasions when Pari complains “Mumma you aren’t paying attention to me.”
The first time she told me this, my eyes popped out & my jaw dropped in disbelief. In my head, I muttered “What on earth does paying attention mean, for a 4-year-old?”.
Initially I dismissed it as a one-off thing on my child’s part and soon forgot about it. But hardly a day or two had passed when Pari said the same thing again. This time, I chose to stop whatever I was doing and get to listen her point of view.
After beating about the bush when Pari finally got to the point, these were her words, “Mumma I’m not saying you don’t do enough for me, but when you are with me, you aren’t paying attention to me.”
“You are busy staring on your computer screen, rushing me around in the time you’ve got free but you are not really listening to what I have to say or seeing what I’ve to show.”
“Love is more than just a feeling: it’s a process requiring continual attention.” ~Molleen Matsumura
I promised Pari to think about it and change my ways and couldn’t help but probe myself deeper to see why Pari had been feeling so.
I ran the events of the day and also the past few days in my head and this was what I found. I work from home and that makes my working hours rather erratic. I don’t have a defined schedule hence while I am spending time with my child, in my mind I am busy drafting articles and checking my iPad at every beep.
This behavior isn’t going unnoticed by my child. When I’m in the middle of an article and Pari approaches me for something, I do respond but mostly with my one eye or my mind still glued to the computer screen.
There is so much talk about quality time and quantity time spent with children. In my case, I believe I’m investing a lot of time in my child, but the reality isn’t exactly so in Pari’s eyes. There was dearth of positive attention.
That’s why I chose to sit with her, during our story-telling sessions or while sharing how our day has been to get her views on what kind of attention she craves for. Things have changed dramatically from then on.
I still have the same 24 hours in my day, I still am working the same as earlier, just have realigned my priorities and execution plan. The times Pari said she’s happy managing on her own, I let her be. I trust her to do her thing, her way, like eating snacks the way she enjoys. Not probing, spoon-feeding her. Surprisingly, it has made room for lot of time I was wasting earlier and giving me breaks to relax or do a thing of my own.
But the times when she really likes to me to be around her, I turn off my computer, not respond to notifications on my gadgets and be exclusively with her.
Needless to say, Pari is liking our times together but the truth is, I’m loving the attention she has started giving me cause I’ve started showing her that I care for her needs.
“Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.”
~ Janet Fitch
Are you paying enough attention to your child?
* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.
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