Unplug from Technology and Plug in to Our Kids

By Jackie Meek, a qualified life coach with a passion to see mums move from
surviving to thriving.

Having a mini IT fast can be a blast – for you and your kids! I did it 12 months ago. Give it a try! My passion is enabling mums to thrive. I set up my life coaching business in 2016 whilst holding down a part-time job. I am mum to a 10 year old and an 8 year old. I have been married for 12 years and am a daughter, sister and a faithful friend. I have been Secretary of our village Playgroup for 5 years. I love horse riding and off-road motorbiking in my spare time. I try to exercise regularly and make healthy food choices for both me and the family. Why do I share this? Because I am busy. Busy doing what mums do – juggling opposing priorities and continuously making decisions about how I use my time. I get it right sometimes and spectacularly wrong other times. You could say – I am normal (at least I think I am!)

On a daily basis, technology is enabling us to achieve so much more than in our parents’ generation.  We can shop from our sitting room to buy clothes, toys and food. We can check our work emails from our phones and view our friends’ holiday photos. We can wish them a happy birthday without posting a birthday card, arrange to meet a friend without speaking to them and listen to a TED talk while we’re cooking a meal. We can find a new recipe to cook with the ingredients we have in our fridge, without opening a cookbook. We can speak on the phone whilst we are driving. The options are never-ending, but what about the effect on how we engage with our children?

As my two children have got older, they have become more independent. I have always seen encouraging independence as an important aspect of my role as a parent. As a toddler, encouraging them to put their shoes on themselves as soon as they are able, handing them the flannel to wipe their face themselves, rather than wiping it for them after a meal. What I hadn’t predicted was what I would be doing as they grew more independent. Mostly, my two love playing together and will often go off and mess about with something. They are used to amusing themselves. I began to use their independence to check my work email, to go on Facebook, to plan an elaborate meal, to clean the kitchen, to fold up the washing……I was not intentionally engaging with my children.

I heard a talk on stress management last year and I learnt that my ability to multi-task is likely to be having a negative impact on the quality of my relationships with my children and that it can be detrimental to my health. I love multi-tasking and I used to feel proud of my ability to handle many things at the same time – it feels good – but, actually, it is not.

Twelve months ago, I decided to have an ‘IT fast’ between the hours of 3.15pm and 7.00pm during the week. I decided to purposefully pursue connection with my children instead. Putting this boundary in place has had a positive impact on how we engage and strengthened the quality of our relationship. I do not check my work email, I do not go on Facebook or Instagram, I do not go off and cook an elaborate meal which takes 2 hours or clean the kitchen.

After school pick up, when my kids are home, I make a cup of tea and sit with them as they eat their snack. We chat. Or I listen and they chat. They laugh. I laugh. I ask them what they’re going to do now. They love it when I watch what they’re playing on the IPad. They love it when I sit on the sofa with them and watch The Simpsons or Horrid Henry. They love it when I sit on the floor and attempt to create something with Lego. They love it join in with a colour marker challenge. And what they love best? That my attention is focused on them. I am not distracted. I am not cross when they interrupt my train of thought or the email or the text I am trying to write. They want to pursue connection with me, and our relationships are stronger as a result. I get to hear about school, we get to complete homework and spellings, I get to hear whether they are happy or sad or frustrated or disappointed. I am ready to listen, with both ears. I may do some jobs, but I am willing and ready to be interrupted and to put them first.

How much time are you actually spending being fully present with your children each day? What steps can you take to intentionally engage with them more? Here are a few suggestions you could try:

Set a period of ‘IT free’ time each day, either for just you or for the children as well

  • Ask them what they’d like YOU to DO with them.
  • Put your phone on silent for a period of time and stop checking it.
  • Have an ‘IT free’ room in the house. Choose to spend time in that room completely un-
  • Go outside on a walk with your children. Talk about what you see around you.
  • Take your children out for ice-cream or a cookie and just ‘be’ with them.
  • Have a snack in the garden instead of inside, make something which is routine, just a bit different

Give it a try and see what happens!

Author Bio

Jackie Meek lives in Oxfordshire and is a qualified life coach with a passion to see mums move from surviving to thriving. Her coaching sessions are calm and inspiring, giving her mum clients the time to stop and think clearly about how they want to bring about change and to help them to find balance as they juggle family and work. Jackie runs a group coaching programme c and works with mums on a 1:1 basis either face to face or online.

You can connect with Jackie on Facebook and Instagram.


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