Stated simply, when you are multi-tasking like a mad woman while you are at home, you are stressing out your kids.
In “Ask the Children ,” a 1999 study of more than 1,000 kids, a researcher found that 44.5% of kids feel that their time with their mom is too rushed. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, when kids feel your elevated stress level and distraction, it affects how they view your commitment to them. Indeed, when children feel their time with their mom is “very calm,” 86% give their mothers very positive marks for “making me feel important and loved,” compared with only 63% who describe their time with their mothers as “very rushed.” As one child put it, “Mom, you are always running around. Can’t you just sit down with me for one minute?”
The studies consistently show that it’s not the quantity of time spent with your mom, but the quality. So when you’re home, slow down – be present. Unplug the laptop, turn off your cell phone and BlackBerry and/or close the door to your home office -- even if it is just for twenty minutes. Liz Lange, president of Liz Lange Maternity and mother of 2 is quoted saying, "[n]othing makes my house more chaotic than when my kids sense my distraction."
So, when you’re with your kids, really pay attention to them. Get down on the floor and take charge of the bad guys in a real honest to goodness superhero battle. It's hard to do, but totally worth it. Liz Lange notes that after September 11th, she made a conscious decision to embrace the moment and changed her approach to time with her children. "Before, I would be half playing with my kids, half checking my BlackBerry," she says. "But now I'm down on the floor with them and everything works much better."
If you need to finish up a few things, sit in the driveway for 10 minutes and finish your calls before opening the front door. Your kids would rather see you 10 minutes later and have your full attention.