Down Into Mindless Parenting


In a recent session, a parent described going from being “present” and “tuned in” at home, to constantly distracted over time and this is all of us:

I wasn’t always so out of touch at home. And it wasn’t really technology that made me become out of touch. It was that my kids grew older and didn’t need my constant attention anymore and I didn’t have a plan for that.

This is how I became mindless:

When we first got together in my relationship, before kids, it was ‘our’ time. We did whatever we wanted. If we wanted to see a movie, we saw a movie. There was no bed time or schedule, except that we had to get enough sleep to go to work. It was spontaneous and I was happy and definitely in-tune when I was home. We were in tune with each other and it was all new and fun.

We had kids and I quickly understood my time wasn’t my own any more. I couldn’t go out whenever I felt like it, or even take a nap when I was tired. There was a lot of work to be done, and I couldn’t just do whatever I felt like doing whenever I wanted. I stopped being spontaneous and started following a schedule that the kids needed. But they still needed me to pay attention and be present- which is easy to do with adorable little babies.

When they went from babies to kids, it was easy to give them my full attention on the weekends. They directed me to the activities they wanted to do. They wanted to throw a ball or have a tea party, and I was totally there. My grown up relationships went dormant during the baby stage and stayed that way during the kid stage.

Then the kids reach a certain age, maybe 10, and it became harder to take an interest in the things they liked to do. I just couldn’t get into another video game. They’re probably supposed to break away from us at that age. But that was when I started to notice major changes in me. I needed to be nearby for the kids, but we they didn’t need me to take care of them or play with them. I needed to be there, but occupy myself with something else to do.

At first I would just sit in the house and sort-of zone out while the kids played video games or watched silly cartoons or even when they played outside. They didn’t need me to do anything for them, so I just sat there with my mind drifting. Over time, I started to busy myself by working from home in those moments, finishing paperwork or something like that. I brought more and more work home to fill that empty space. Before I knew it, I was completely tuned out from the family all the time and busy working. I told myself I needed to work- that there was just too much to do.

I lapsed into a state of perpetual distraction and then I didn’t know how to tune back in. I was unhappy and I felt guilty about being unhappy with my own family. It was time to tune back in to me- to my life. But I didn’t know that. I kept working at home, taking on extra projects. At home I was always some place else.

Now that I realize, I’m trying to give the kids the space they need for their interests, but tune in to some family time. We can play a board game together, or build something outside. And I need some grown up time- it doesn’t always have to be about the kids anymore. I just forgot how to live my own life for all of these years.

I wish I would have understood what was happening sooner. I should have been finding something fun to do instead of telling myself I needed to work all the time. I regret that I didn’t develop my own interests, or go on a date with my significant other.

Posted on March 11, 2019 .