(Photo by the sweet, beautiful, talented Yan Photography)
This is the first post of a series I have made it a goal to post weekly through this year.
The purpose is to really help me focus on personal and work related subjects that I feel need to be talked about...and well..focused on.
Of course I want this series of blog posts to be for anyone and everyone but since I am a woman and a mom AND a business owner, I will be taking those spins when touching on different issues. It's what I know! This is not to say that if you are a full-time dad or a woman who spends 12hrs a day at an office that you won't be able to relate. I think we can all come together when trying to find balance and direction in our own lives.
More than anything I want to give the things and people that matter most to me the attention and focus they deserve. This is a must if I want to successfully navigate all these different roles I have.
On to the first topic I have been thinking a lot about: undivided attention.
Years ago, before we were married, Grant was passing time in a bookshop while I was shooting a wedding (Stephens and Jenn's!). He came across advice in one of the books he was browsing that stated something close to:
"People need at least 15mins of undivided attention a day from significant others in order to feel close and for the relationship to be strengthened.....for self esteem to blossom...." (was this the gist Grant?)
Grant and I discussed the idea and it really did make perfect sense. 15mins a day of giving the other person your complete undivided attention. Eye contact, active listening, NOT making it about yourself, responding and validating what they were saying...for just 15mins. We we tried it out. It was kind of like magic.
At times it seemed so extreme because we aren't all that use to having someone listen so completely. I would probably blush and look away but not surprisingly the words to share were not hard to come by. I did the same for Grant. Looking, listening, asking interested questions. It didn't even matter what the subject was. I could talk about my last shoot, what I was making for dinner, the sore on my foot, random thoughts I had during my drive......the point is not always what is being said, just that whatever you say matters.
Undivided has become something of a family motto for us. He even had it engraved on the inside of my wedding band.
We have not been perfect at it. Not even close...and I want to make an effort to come back to it and to focus on making it a priority.
I have Grant and Nova and my unborn baby boy who are all deserving of 15mins of undivided attention from me a day. My day is comprised of 24hrs. This would only take 45mins of my entire day. Of course as a parent it might feel on certain days that you are giving this level of attention for hours on end...and you might be! But I do find a difference between laying on the floor with Nova, letting my mind wander and laying on the floor with Nova focusing on her and nothing else. She notices too. When I do this for just a mere 15mins I feel like a way better Mother..and that Mom-guilt is greatly diminished. When Grant and I do this for each other it is amazing how much closer we feel.
I do think it takes practice and we still need a lot more of it, but I'm hopeful it will get easier and easier.
Another perk of giving undivided attention is it frees you up to give attention to other things as well. I know if I am showing Grant and Nova how much they mean to be through active listening, then I am helping to cement how important they are to me in their minds. Then the separation isn't as painful or confusing while I am working or away from them. We are securing each other up. This makes a huge difference on me mentally as I try to be a good wife, mother AND photographer.
I have found good times to give Nova undivided attention are during mealtimes (especially during busy days). We can eat together and chat. I can ask questions and she can tell me about what's on her mind. Another time that works well for us is the late afternoon after she wakes up from her nap and is sometimes needier. We can snuggle together on the couch and I can stroke her hair as she tells me about her naptime dreams and toddler concerns.
A good time for Grant and I to give undivided attention is definitely after she has gone to bed, whether during her nap or in the evening. Sometimes even a quick check-in while we pass each other in the kitchen can do wonders. Like a spontaneous hug with awkward eye contact and a "how is your day going so far?" While we are driving is another good time. I also really like going on family walks and being able to share and listen while she is content in a stroller.
I know this isn't new concept and you are probably all doing a much better job at this than I am...but what are your thoughts? Do you think undivided attention makes a difference? Do you pick certain times of the day to do it, or just whenever the time feels right?
So there you have it. Undivided. Try it out and tell me what you think.
AND if you need some and aren't getting it, let me know. I have 15mins for anyone.