Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard work of mommy-hood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:
I’m an encourager by nature so it’s not hard for me to look for the positive in my children. But I have discovered a major weakness: undivided attention. From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am on the go – and on my phone. I check work email while I make coffee, scroll through the day’s headlines while brushing my teeth and message back and forth with friends and colleagues on social media while getting everyone else in the family up and ready for the day. I never sit down.
I can’t count the number of times my 3-year-old has asked me to just look at her. My 8-year-old has figured out that my phone is the way to connect with me. When she wants attention, she asks me to look something up on my phone or offers to show me a YouTube video. She’s even started asking if I’ll read books to her from my phone. It’s hard to look for the positive in my children when I am not making eye contact with them.
Then I started reading The Mom Project, which offers easy ideas for connecting with your kids that benefit the whole family. For our project, we adopted a phone-free Sunday, and I’m here to share the impact it’s made.
Just the idea of this project put a pit in the bottom of my stomach. A whole day without a phone? Impossible. What if work needed me? My husband, Brian, suggested we both go phone-free with some lenience. We could be on our phones if the kids were asleep or entertaining themselves but the rest of time, we’d focus on each child individually and together as a family. Throughout the day, we would intentionally look for positive traits and actions to acknowledge and praise.
My older daughter takes equestrian lessons every Sunday. Usually, Dad takes both girls while I stay home to catch up around the house. This time, we decided to divide and conquer. He’d take Lily and instead of sitting in the car while she rode, he would go to the arena and cheer her on. I would stay home with Abby and be fully present. While Brian and Lily were gone, Abby and I made muffins, cleaned the kitchen and played dress-up. At the end of the day, I made dinner while the girls spent time with Dad. Then he led bath time while I tidied up and I got the privilege of reading bedtime snuggles and stories (from real books with pages, not on my Kindle app).
What I Learned
Our girls have different personalities and needs for us to fulfill. The nuances are lost on us when we’re distracted by devices. In making muffins with Abby, I learned how important it is to do things herself. Complimenting her on taking initiative without worrying about the mess she was making with flour EVERYWHERE was hard for me but left her glowing. Her joy melted my anxiety and impatience. Her love for dress-up role-playing allowed me to observe the richness of her internal world. Until Brian fully focused on Lily’s riding, neither of us realized her fear of falling was preventing her progression. Being the dad that he is, Brian set out to solve the problem by teaching Lily to ride a bike that afternoon. After 30 minutes of encouragement and applause for getting up after every fall, Lily was riding up and down the street all by herself. Abby was jumping up and down on the sidewalk cheering for her big sister, and Lily beamed with pride.
Looking for the positive is easy when your kids are compliant, but what happens when they aren’t? If you’re going to try this project at home, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide how you’ll handle the situation if your children won’t follow the plan. For instance, Lily wasn’t interested in time with me. At first my feelings were hurt. She always wants my time when I don’t have it to spare. Rejection is tough but instead of pouting, I told Lily I was proud of her for feeling free to speak her mind (she said “no thank you” – at least she used her manners).
This is written by Tonya, a full-time working mom of two spirited girls. For our readers, Tonya is offering a free download of Why You Need a Mommy Dream Team. When she’s not managing the Clutter-Free Academy Facebook group, she writes about overcoming comparison, clutter and compulsion at www.tonyakubo.com.