The Key To Better Relationships: Stop & Refocus

by Christie Perkins

A while back I prayed to find out what I needed to do to be a better mom (that was the gist of the prayer anyway). I wanted a little more mojo between us. Not that the kids and I had a bad relationship but I just wanted more relationship superglue before the teenage years hit. S A I L O R SC L U BYes, I wanted that uber connection-greed associated with moms and their midget genetic counterparts. A specific thought entered my mind:

…get off the computer when the boys get home.

Ah, yes.

Bingo. It was a good idea. I could see the benefit of this counsel. Sometimes those thoughts come and I shift my head back, turn my chin slightly to the side, and scrunch one eyebrow. That? That’s the answer? But not this time. This made perfect sense.


Afterschool Ritual… Not So Great.

My ritual after school was always the same. I would greet the kids with sunshine and smiles that they were home. “What’s the best part of your day?” These questions were honed in and piled on them. Hugs were handed out. You know the routine.

But in the whole scheme of the day, the interaction was just a small speck of time. It wasn’t long before I was suctioned to the keyboard again. I had thoughts to finish and deadlines to meet. And sometimes I was so good I could do the home coming party right from my keyboard.

It’s called multi-tasking. Um. Yeah, call it whatever you want… we all know what it really is.

Undivided attention to the keyboard with backward glances and plaster of paris molded smiles aimed at the kids. But the kids plainly see that the “favorites” get all of the attention. They know that time equals love. And at the homecoming parade the attention was only briefly on them before I was back to word juggling.

But, it truly is not where my heart was. Just my brain, fingers, and blubber were connected to the screen and chair. My heart belonged to my kids. I should show them that, don’t you think?


Practice, Practice, Practice

I cannot lie: I do have a passion for writing but it’s my kids that I love.

So, why would I focus so much attention on writing? I was fixated on making a difference in the world. I was doing good, right? But there was something missing in my heart. Which is exactly why I prayed to be a better mom. And when the insight came, I knew it was what I needed to do:

get off the computer when the boys get home.

So, like the first of anything good there’s more vim and vigor for it. There’s more willpower and determination. On the first day I actually decided to follow through with this thought it was… well, actually harder than I thought. I kept thinking about the middle of my project while trying to give my 100% to the kids (try that, it’s one of those mathematical puzzlers that ends up in a frustrated knot).

It lasted an entire afternoon.

Overachiever, I know. I wanted to follow the newfound thoughtful insight. Really, I did. (What’s that saying? It’s the thought that counts, right? I mean really, I did consider the value of it.) It seemed that at 3:00, when the boys walked in, my muse took a sudden turn and a flow of ideas would rush in. It was like I standing mid-flood with floaties on. There’s was no stopping.

And before I knew it I was back to old habit: splashing in puddles and being carried downstream.

Downstream from where I really wanted to be.

But, you know, that thought never left my head that I needed to get off the computer when they got home. I think I needed a little more practice than one day wouldn’t you say?

And here I am telling you all my bad mom moments.


Why Do Our Priorities Get Flipped Around?

I got thinking about why I was even on the computer anyway when they got home. I love those adorable faces, quirky comments, and glint in their eye as they retell the day’s happenings. But, the reason for messing with the coming home event was because I was working on my blog or some other writing feat. I was changing the world, in theory. I was doing my act of goodness. I wasn’t dinking around wasting brain cells in mindless surfing. No. I was thinking up mounds of words to be heard. I was talking to the world but not with the most important people on the planet to me: my kids.

Sure, we talked but my focus remained on writing.

We all have our acts of goodness we focus on. Jobs, education, serving, knitting, sewing, etc. And it is good to do those things (unless you are me and you are trying to sew a shirt. Not good). But, I am realizing that there’s power in the timing of our good acts. The time to focus on good is important and should be done. What would this world be without it? But, there also comes a time to drop it; just leave it for a while.

And that’s the tricky part.


Stop and Refocus

For me that time was when the boys walked in the door. That was my key time to drop my good deeds and refocus, rededicate; reconnect.

We need people and their talents. I don’t care if they are getting paid for their contribution, we still need them. I delight in other people’s goodness. I love to see them in their element. I benefit from their masterful eye and hand, even if they fail to see it. And most people don’t see their greatness so I think that’s where the super focus comes to just do a little more and we forget that others need us too.

Priorities get flipped because we forget to stop and refocus. That’s it. It is as simple as that. Do good. But find a stopping point and commit to refocus.

Aim that focus at a human being: maybe your genetic midget counterpart.

And since there’s a new start and I’m all gung-ho I’ve refocused on that little thought to get off the computer when the boys get home. It wasn’t so hard to do this second time around. At exactly 2:55 I get off the computer and await their arrival.

I even hid behind the door one day and made their innards scramble when I jumped out at them.


I’ve enjoyed the week so much better knowing that I can truly stop and refocus on my kids. And you know what, now I’m doing two good deeds instead of just one.

And now it’s time to follow that other thought that keeps lurking around in my head: drink more water. What are the little thoughts that you consistently ignore? My thought to stop what I’m doing and to redirect my focus has been an answer to prayer. You may not need this thought, but I certainly did.

And I’m a bit more perky because of it.

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