As a solo dad, you need to get creative to find quiet time when you need it. The answer could be giving your kids more attention than they can handle.
One thing I really struggle with on a daily basis is focus.
Not on work, the washing, cooking, cleaning, or the myriad of other minutiae we get consumed by when running a house. I mean focus on the kids.
I don’t know how many times I catch myself saying “just a sec”, “in a minute” or “let me just finish this and I’ll take a look” when one of my angels wants to show me some random semblance of a picture they drew, or a toneless spasmodic singing/dance routine they’ve been working on. I get it, don’t worry I’m not that insensitive.
They just want my attention.
Understandable really when the only other person in the house who’ll listen or watch is going to tell you how it really is rather than applaud and lavish praise upon you.
To further compound the frustrating effect of these attention seeking moments, they seem to only occur at every worst possible time of the day. Cooking dinner, sitting on the toilet, talking on the phone. The little darlings really know how to pick their moments don’t they?
So after some intense deliberation over a couple too many glasses of red one Friday night, I decided to run a test. I would literally drop everything.
Turn off the stove, hang up on whoever I was talking too, pinch the loaf off a little earlier than planned, and get down to eye level with the offender (I mean child) and totally absorb myself in whatever I was being asked to watch.
Not only were they rapt that I was finally paying attention, asking questions and lavishing praise once again, but as a bonus, the frequency of these events seemed to lessen. Win win all round!
Now I can’t be sure what the precise catalyst was that made this an effective approach. Maybe it was their feeling of controlling me, maybe it was simply enough to be heard.
But there is also an outside chance that having your Dad instantly pause mid-poo, or drop the phone mid-sentence and get down on all fours, staring intently into their face, was disconcerting enough to make them think twice before trying again.
Either way, we seem to have reached a nice status quo these days. Most importantly, I get to poo in peace once again.
They’re sneaky, manipulative, intelligent, intuitive little bundles of love are our children, and the better we can understand their needs and wants, the better we can help them grow into caring, thoughtful and compassionate people. Not to mention reducing our frustrations along the way!
Now as awesome as this all sounds, I don’t know how long this truce will last, so obviously I will need more in my repertoire than just the above strategy. I’d love to hear from you all so I can mix things up a bit (purely for my entertainment of course).
What techniques do you employ when your kids demand attention at all the wrong times?
This story was originally published on Just A Dad, where Chris Martin is documenting his journey as a solo father after losing his wife, Renee, to cancer. He writes to help those in similar circumstances.