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Photo by Andrew J. Cosgriff

I just completed my first marathon less than two weeks ago. I should be feeling invincible. But I don’t. 26.2 miles couldn’t stop me but the flu just kicked me in the pants. It was inevitable. The Tuesday after my race I found myself completely depleted after coming off of the final adrenaline surge of my accomplishment. I also found myself sitting in the waiting room of the pediatricians office – the dreaded petri dish. My son complained of a sore throat after having his classmate come down with strep the day before so I knew I had to take my chances. I didn’t touch anything. I used hand sanitizer. I found myself inside the same office four days later to have my daughter inoculated for the swine flu. It only took us one day after that for us all to come down with the fever, cough and terrible chills. Murphy’s Law.

There is a positive in this situation. Between shivering under the covers and the Tylenol kicking in, I had time to catch up on my favorite blogs and take care of some housecleaning and organizing that just never gets to the top of the list.

One of the things that I learned while stuck at home this week is that sometimes you have to start over.

I was reading some old posts from a new blog favorite, Mama-Om. Stacy gives great examples of being present in our children’s daily lives. It made me start to think about how I’ve wasted many connecting opportunities with my kids lately. I have always allowed the kids a little TV decompression time. When the kids sit to watch their two shows, I disappear upstairs to my computer. Time disappears for us all until we are in a frantic rush trying to get ready for whatever is next – dinner making, practice, lessons. This chaotic energy follows us through homework, getting ready for the next morning and all the way until bedtime.

I have been finding that my kids are always in a conflict and that interactions with my son have been ending in mutually frustrated feelings.

I decided to start again with a no TV rule on weekdays. It has only been two days but the difference is noticeable.

  • My kids (four years apart and opposite sexes) have started finding ways to play together again instead of squabbling.
  • More books were read and instruments were picked up and played.
  • The three of us spent time playing board games, reading together, laughing, appreciating and relishing the time spent together.
  • All of the sudden there was ample time to get everything done without that feeling of the clock ticking.
  • I was more present and able to see some teachable moments in school stories that were shared or during interactions between the kids.

It is not that the TV time took over the whole day (it was only 1 hour) but after being in school for 7 hours that extra lack of connection by zoning out in front of the screen created an energy that tainted the way we related to each other for the rest of the day. Habits are easily created and often hard to break, but it is possible to start over.

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