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Give Your Kids Undivided Attention – You Won’t Regret It

From the bank of windows that frame my treadmill, I have a perfect view of my health club’s main door. Often I see families come in and out: children, teens and senior citizens. I like to watch everyone, but I’m most entertained by the moms with toddlers.

I can’t help but smile as I witness the little ones toddling along, every step a new adventure. Many times they squat to examine a bug, a crack in the sidewalk, or a lost penny. I wait with anticipation to see what the mom will do. Will she be patient, enjoy the moment, and indulge the child in his discovery? Or will she be chomping at the bit to get the kid in the car so they can get on to their destination?

I Began as an Impatient Mom

When my boys were that young, I’m afraid I was usually the impatient mom.

I cringe thinking about how I placed so much importance on getting an incredible amount of errands and chores done in a day. When it came to smelling the proverbial roses, I usually failed. Working full time, running a house, tending to a yard and, oh yeah, being both mom and dad to my sons meant that I had a very thin margin for error. Each day had to be plotted, errands needed to be geographically smart, or else I’d be wasting precious time.

Why I Became More Present

I thought I was being smart and efficient. But one day, I finally saw the light.

Sam was about six years old and was standing in front of me, telling a story with much enthusiasm. Now, I don’t remember what the story was about, but I do remember watching his face lit up with amazement, his big brown eyes full of expression, and his eyebrows doing an adorable up and down dance.

It really struck me, in that moment that I had been half listening to him. I mean, I heard the gist of what he said, but I had been denying him my undivided attention. And for what? The opportunity to shave five minutes off dinner prep?

I did not enjoy the moment and I was clearly the loser in this situation. I was missing out on being present for life’s sweetest moments. From that moment on, I tried hard to slow down on the doing, and instead, just be.

I don’t judge those moms at the health club. I understand their rush to get Junior home for his nap. But I send them a silent nudge to slow down, to be there and not to wish away every seemingly unimportant moment. The beauty of life is all around us, every single day.

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.

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