This year, 2020, has definitely been the year of disconnect. We have been socially distanced, isolated and quarantined. Our live events have been cancelled, our mass gatherings stopped. It has been difficult. It is easy to underestimate the power of connection.
There have been so many different experiences this year. Some of us have been reminded of what is important. Others have learnt that working from home is doable and, in some cases, more productive. Many have also experienced enormous frustration as they battle to juggle the balls of being a parent, a teacher, an employee or employer, a business owner, a spouse, a daughter – all within the same four walls.
And in many cases I have noticed that people who are living together are feeling more disconnected than ever.
Especially us moms… working from home. Man! That is a difficult task when our children are home with us. Little people who have mommy around often cannot understand why mommy isn’t paying them any attention. And moms who are feeling So. Much. Guilt. for saying “not now, baby, mommy is busy” and leaving kids to their own devices (literally).
I have heard countless mothers share their sheer exhaustion at the end of the day with no more to give. Feeling depleted and really not in the mood to read a story, play a game, go on an adventure – and cue more mom guilt.
But our little people are desperate for connection. They see their moms and in their world thats all that matters. They don’t see the need for all this work, all those meetings, and deadlines. Who cares? They want to PLAY!
And the worst part is… so do we. We want to connect with our kids more than ever.
What is so powerful about connection?
When we connect meaningfully with our partner or our kids we release Oxytocin – the love hormone. It’s the hormone that, along with Serotonin and Dopamine, leaves us feeling good. As humans we NEED this.
When we connect powerfully with our kids we also land up feeling good about ourselves. Yes, a little selfish maybe, but then who doesn’t want to feel like they are rocking at parenting?
More importantly, our kids need that connection to feel loved and important. In fact it does their general behaviour the world of good too. A child that is well-connected wants to cooperate. And who doesn’t want a cooperative child?
You can see why it is so important to maintain our connections. And so sad that it has become so difficult.
What is getting in the way?
Well, when our kids were attending day-care or school and we were working we had time to attend to all the other tasks that needed seeing to. We would then come together in the evenings and weekends with time blocked out for connection and closeness.
Now everything is topsy turvy, right? There doesn’t seem to be any specific time carved out for anything. We have kids home while we are working. We try to teach and entertain while we are attending to household chores and somewhere in there we are trying our level best to get work done.
The level of general frustration and overwhelm gets in the way of being able to slow down and connect. We feel grumpy. And Tired. And totally tapped out.
Feeling frazzled and always moving from one thing to the next does not allow for the space required to simply pause and be.
We need to slow down, Mama’s. We need to re-align ourselves and re-connect.
With our kids. But also with our partners. In this time of uncertainty and stress, we could do with all the Oxytocin we can manage.
But How? (You ask!)
It is all about being intentional and present with our time. The same way you would do if you were going in to work – with a planner you would time block for certain tasks. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be time blocking while at home. Yes, our kids don’t always find it easy to stick to our schedule. Their needs for attention are many.
But some of that has to do with the fact that they aren’t getting much undivided connection from you. When we stop and pause and really connect then their needs for attention are met. Kids find it easier to leave mom alone when they know they will have her back soon. (And feel assured that they will get her undivided attention again).
So it’s a little bit of a win-win situation here. Kids feel connected. And connection makes them more likely to cooperate. Moms feel connected. And connection leaves them feeling better about themselves… which leads to more energy in general. Both kids and mom are able to be without each other for longer periods because they both know, for sure, that connection is coming again!
You only need small chunks of time.
It can feel challenging to make time for connection when you are super busy and can only grab half hour breaks here and there. And maybe you are all out of ideas on how to connect with your kids and partner.
It’s all about getting creative with your time. You don’t need huge chunks either. You can connect meaningfully in 20-30 minutes (more than enough time for a hit of Oxytocin).
Next time your child is bidding for attention, or you have a spare moment available – give it a go…. give them your undivided attention – whether it is listening to them talk, playing a game together or simply going for a walk outside.
And do yourself a favour too – notice how good you feel afterwards.
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