I'm lucky enough to work from home, and I work pretty flexible hours too which is great because it means I can pick up my kids from school and be there for sports days and important moments. But what this also means is that I often forget to switch off.
I'm always fitting in "just a bit more" work in the evenings or on weekends when my kids are building Lego houses or riding their bikes. If I get ahead now, I can relax and spend more time with them later, I often kid myself. The line between work time and mum time has blurred beyond recognition and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to switch off and be present with my kids.
A viral post shared by Brad Kearns – blogging at DaDMuM – served as a timely reminder for me last week when he shared his experience with his son.
Brad was home alone with his sons, and was messing around on Facebook. His three-year-old son Knox was standing in front of him, trying to get his attention.
"He was trying to show me one of his cars," Brad wrote. "I didn't even look up from my phone when I replied, 'Wow mate that's a cool one.' He continued to stand in front of me. He started saying, 'Hi.' I said 'Hi' back at him a few times but he didn't stop. He got another toy and kept trying to get my attention."
Eventually Brad convinced Knox to go and play with his little brother Finn, but Knox came back after a while and tried again to get Dad's attention.
And that's when the penny dropped for Brad.
"I hadn't seen him in two days due to my work hours," he said. "He was bored and he missed me and he just wanted my attention. Yet there I was 'too busy' to even look up. And I dismissed him."
Brad said he "felt like sh*t", and that he realised he was being the sort of dad he "never wanted to be".
That's when Brad decided to put down his phone. He went and found Knox and asked him if he wanted to play. Knox's "entire face lit up".
"He said 'sure' and scooched over to make room for me next to him. We played all day and I left my phone on the bench."
This is something we all know: our kids love it when we make the time to just be with them. To do the things they like to do, and do it all with our full attention. Sure, sometimes we're busy and that has to be okay, but we all have pockets of time we can dedicate to just being present with our kids.
Sometimes it just takes a little reminding to get us back there.