Like pretty much all parents, I struggle with managing distractions from work in my home life. I get work messages at all hours. I am obligated to engage in social media to follow trends and support a community. And yet I know that the most important thing I can give my 6-year-old son is my time and undivided attention.
Here’s how I use Focusable to do it.
On weekends, it is important for me to spend quality time with my family. But it’s so easy to end up with time that is divided. Work doesn’t end on Friday. I want to work out. Get chores done. Etc.
The challenge starts first thing in the morning. I typically wake up well before my son. By the time he’s awake, I am usually already immersed in one thing or another online. I try to give him time to eat breakfast and wake up, then I leverage Focusable to break free.
I start with a Recharge activity, typically with a 478 breathing exercise. I find this to be the best breathing method for me to calm down and recenter quickly. I might throw in an eye relief exercise in the event my eyes are fatigued from the screen time.
Then I swipe to Refocus. I use the Pulse timer’s 5 minute goal to get myself up and moving.
I put my phone to sleep and into my pocket with the Focusable activity still running before I start engaging with my son. I use the pressure of the Pulse timer alarm, which I know is coming, to dive into something fun with him and get immersed as quickly as possible. We might play pirates, legos, jump on the trampoline, or play soccer. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s what he wants to do.
I try to resist whatever distraction or impulse arises before the alarm goes off. If I am immersed, we just keep going. If not, I just restart the Pulse timer to give myself another short duration goal to get myself there.
From then on, I just try to give my son my full attention. I know Focusable is running in the background. And that is enough to remind me to stay focused on him, even if a work notification comes in or an impulse to check something arises. I mostly ignore it, barring something very important.
I also try to resist the urge to record or take photos of what’s happening. This is something I’ve always found difficult. The act of stopping to record, to me, is just another form of distraction. It takes me out of my present moment. So I try to avoid it, sometimes with regret at not having captured anything. With Focusable’s 45 minute notification, I can trust that it will remind me to reflect and record. So I just stay fully focused on whatever we’re doing. The moment is ours.
When the next notification arrives, I’ll usually record something and stop. Other times I’ll push forward with another Pulse with the objective of spending another 45 minutes. Here’s a sample of our trampoline and soccer session last Sunday.
What’s the outcome? Time is almost always enjoyable. We laugh. We discover. We do things I often find myself resisting doing, like playing kids games. The time we are spending is worth it for its own sake.
But I am finding there’s even more to it.
Perhaps the most exciting part is that I find HIS attention and impulse control improves too. He’s not the one using Focusable. He’s simply learning from how I am engaging with him as a role model. From his perspective, it’s just a block of time on a Sunday where he’s playing with his dad and his dad his playing with him. And I guess it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that I am finding: focus is transferable.
As a result, he has a greater ability to learn new things. Afterward, he can play by himself for hours – something he’s normally not very good at. And his patience actually improves for the remainder of the day. I have to believe that the curiosity that I am demonstrating during our shared time is a key factor in this – something that would not be the case if he had to constantly say, “Dad, did you see what I did?” By comparison, the alternative way of existing is just not going to cut it anymore. My hope is that this shift in our routines makes an impact far beyond the moment; it’s up to me to keep better attention as the model for what’s important.