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Tips for avoiding distracted parenting

We get it. There is so much that needs to be done and so much to distract us from doing it. However, no parent can argue that childhood is over in the precious blink of an eye. This is particularly true for separated or divorced parents who do not see their children on a day-to-day basis.

The temptation is to check one’s device constantly – to catch up on the news, go through email, or even ignore your children in front of you while you post cute pictures from a recent play date. Really, it is part of the modern condition of media oversaturation.

Below are some tips from experts that enable us all to be more present in the moment (before it slips away) and be better parents.

Put your device away: Lock it up if you have to because the addictive dopamine rush we get from social media is well documented. Unless there is a coordinated hand-off with the other parent, consider leaving your phone in the car or at home.

Have rules about phone usage: Pick a time, say top of the hour, where you pull it out and check messages or make calls. This enables parents to stop looking at their device constantly.

Make lists: Lists can keep multitasking parents on task. Prioritize the list and try to work your way through it when it is time to get things done at work or in the home. This can also cut down on the worry (and likelihood) of forgetting something.

Use pen and paper: Rather than using your device to leave yourself messages or make lists, do it with paper. This avoids the temptation of reading an email that just came in.

Be present: Instead of waiting months or years to look back, remind yourself of the fleeting nature of everyday activities and revel in their beauty.

Be careful about news consumption: News is now on a 24-hour/7-days-a-week cycle. Those outlets’ job is to keep your attention -- resist that temptation and focus on making an impact upon those around you.

Be proactive and engaged: Take action to help charity or political cause, or become involved in whatever interests you. This is also parenting through example, and can become a family activity.

Announce a work time: Instead of sneaking your job in, announce that mom or dad has to get on their computer for a specific period of time before dinner or the next activity.

Look after yourself: Parents who are good at taking care of others may not do so well with themselves. Self-care makes you happier, healthier and better prepared for all these distractions.

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