I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a present parent. I work a lot and I only have my daughter part time—and with school coming up, my time with her is extremely limited. I want to make the most of it, and that means being mindfully present for every minute of it.
I’ve taken a lot of step to be more present. Turning off devices. Active listening. But lately I’ve been trying to make more time, and make the most of that time. To that end, I’ve cooked up 5 rituals that help me be present and engaged on a daily basis.
- Make a meal. We make a meal at least once a day. Whether it’s breakfast before school or dinner on the weekend, we’re cooking together. It doesn’t have to be a 5-star dish, either. Scrambled eggs. A Cobb salad. Stir fry. Cooking together gives us something to interact with together, which keeps us both in the moment.
- I still read to my daughter, even though she’s taking her own interest in books. Reading together gives us a chance to bond over a story. And because reading is an active engagement, it’s hard not to be present!
- Go for a walk. I’m a big believer that walking is an important part of life. Unplugging, getting outdoors and engaging in light exercise is the best combination for your body. We go on walks together, chatting about life and things that interest us. The walk is good for the body, the conversation is good for the mind, and the time together is good for the soul.
- School recap. When I pick my daughter up from school, we always recap her day. Even if it’s only for the short drive home, it gives us a chance to talk and bond. I get to hear about what’s going on in her life and participate as a parent. It also keeps me on the same page, so I know what’s going on at school.
- Watch a show. Sometimes you just feel like lazing on the couch. It’s human! If you’re drained from the day, watching a TV show together can be a great way to interact and stay present. We sometimes watch American Ninja Warrior. I marvel at the condition of the athletes; she laughs when they fall into water and cheers when they hit the buzzer. We enjoy the show together.
I’m always looking for more ways to be a present parent. I’m happy with the rituals we have, and expect we’ll develop more as she grows up. They may be simple, but each of them makes me incredibly happy, because it’s time well-spent together.