My daughter Noemi — looking for someone to love…

Each minute of every day, we are presented with a choice on how we spend our moments. We can either miss the moments or grasp them.

I’m struggling with this daily, but here’s how I manage to do it daily:

  • Keep your phone turned on at all times of the day. Allow the rings, beeps, and buzzes to interrupt your child mid-sentence; always let the caller take priority.
  • Carry your phone around so much that when you happen to leave it in one room your child will come running with it proudly in hand — treating it more like a much needed breathing apparatus than a communication device.
  • Decide the app you’re playing is more important than throwing the ball in the yard with your kids. Even better, yell at them to leave you alone while you play your game.
  • Take your children to the zoo and spend so much time on your phone that your child looks longingly at the mother who is engaged with her children and wishes she was with her instead.
  • While you wait for the server to bring your food or the movie to start, get out your phone and stare at it despite the fact your child sits inches away longing for you talk to him.
  • Go to your child’s event and look up periodically from your phone thinking she won’t notice that you are not fully focused on their performance.
  • Check your phone first thing in the morning … even before you kiss, hug, or greet the people in your family.
  • Neglect daily rituals like tucking your child into bed or nightly dinner conversation because you are too busy with your online activity.
  • Don’t look up from your phone when your child speaks to you or just reply with an “uh huh” so she thinks you were listening.
  • Lose your temper with your child when he “bothers” you while you are interacting with your hand-held electronic device.
  • Give an exasperated sigh when your child asks you to push her on the swing. Can’t she see you’re busy?
  • Use drive time to call other people regardless of the fact you could be talking to your kids about their day — or about their worries, their fears, or their dreams.
  • Read email and text messages at stoplights. Then tell yourself that when your kids are old enough to drive they won’t remember you did this all the time.
  • Have the phone to your ear when she gets in or out of the car. Convince yourself a loving hello or goodbye is highly overrated.

Follow this recipe and you will have:

• Missed opportunities for human connection

• Fewer chances to create beautiful memories

• Lack of connection to the people most precious to you

• Inability to really know your children and them unable to know you

• Overwhelming regret

If you find this recipe difficult to read — if you find that you have tears in your eyes, I thank you, and your child thanks you.

It is not easy to consider the possibility that the distractions of the modern age have taken an undeserved priority over the people who matter in your life.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to follow the above recipe. Yes, it is the 21st century. Yes, the whole world is online. Yes, the communications for your job are important. Yes, at times you must be readily available. But despite all those factors, you do not have to sacrifice your child’s childhood; nor do you have to sacrifice your life.

This article is a summary of an article which originally appeared here: http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/05/07/how-to-miss-a-childhood/

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