“It’s wake up time Mummy!”, the small-but-loud, squeaky voice persists. “Open your eyes, it’s daytime now. Come to the lounge with me!” Sienna is awake, therefore no matter how tired I am, it’s time for me to get up. I reluctantly open my eyes and drag my body upright. At the very least the sun was filtering through the blinds. I scooped my little girl into my arms, squeezing her tight. “Good morning my Fairy Pie”. I kiss her button nose as she pushes back the hair chaotically framing my face. “Please come to the lounge with me” she repeats. I reach over to my phone on the bedside table and look at the time. 5:52am. Joy. I notice 3 emails, 9 Facebook notifications, and 4 tweets. “I’m coming baby, you put on the tv, and I’ll be there in a minute. She patters off into the next room.

I check my emails, deleting two and responding to the third about a meeting the next day. I read the Facebook messages and have a quick scroll to see if anything noteworthy happened during the night. “Grr, come on mum!” Sienna is getting irritated. WTF I’m the parent here! What’s she so frustrated about? “I’m coming!” I retort, matching her frustrated tone. I look at the time again. 6:13am, Oh geez, I lost track of time.

I get up out of bed, go to the bathroom, freshen up and walk past her in the lounge, kissing her forehead. “I’m just getting our cuppa’s” I say. I head to the kitchen to make my coffee and her milo. I have to wake up Zachary for school bus first. As I do that, I notice the overflowing laundry basket. I toss on a load. Zachary’s up, with his bag packed, in his room eating breakfast. He’s putting on shoes but paused mid-tie watching a TikTok on his phone that his mate sent. That was three clips ago though. “Put that thing away until you’re on the bus, it’s such a distraction”. I say pointing to his phone, ironically with the same hand holding mine. He complies and continues to get ready.

I go to the kitchen and realise I haven’t even put the kettle on. I do it, then back away the dishes in the drainer. “Do you want the Elsa or Anna cup bub?” I call to my still-waiting daughter in front of the tv. “Elsa” she confirms. I pull out her blue little mug, and one for me and my Husband. While the water boils, I review my twitter notifications, post a tween about my last workout and scroll some reels on Instagram. “Bye mum” my 14-year-old kissed me and left for the bus. Wait what?! I check the time. It’s 6:55am. Crap.

When did the kettle click off? I re-boil the water. Sienna comes out and hugs my leg. “Mummy you’re taking forever.” I apologise again to her for the second time that morning. I ashamedly put the phone down, make the hot drinks, take mine and Sienna’s to the lounge and my husband’s to him in the bedroom. I hear laughing and crazy high tempo music from the ensuite. “You’ll be late for work if you keep that up” I tell him. “It’s hilarious! A gym fail compilation! I’ll share it with you to watch later.” “Yeah right. Coffee’s here just get off the toilet and get ready for work.”

I hear my phone ping in the kitchen. I go grab it. The video shared from Michael plus a text from my boss about a financial report needing to be created once I’m online. I pocket my phone. I finally settle on the lounge with my little love who nuzzles into my side. One arm across my lap, the other holding her almost cold milo. We can finally watch our show together and have our coffee. I look at the time. It’s 7:05am. In 25 minutes, I’ll need to get her ready for breakfast, school and the day. I sip my coffee as she does hers with the world’s biggest smile on her face. She looks over to me, rosy cheeked and big brown eyes full of love and happiness. My heart sings along with her. So full of love and adoration, but also guilt. I should have been sitting here an hour ago.

I hear another ding from my phone. I try to brush it off. But doing so makes me anxious and uneasy. My attention is mind is torn. “Did you hear me?” I snap back to attention in the current moment I was having with my daughter. “Pardon? Sorry Fairy Pie I wasn’t listening”. “I said I love you mummy” and she moved in for another squeeze.” I love you too my baby”.

“Crap! I’m late!” I hear Michael yelling from the bedroom. I grabbed his lunch for him so he wouldn’t forget and ushered him out the door.

It’s now 7:25am. My 12-year-old Tommy wanders into the lounge. Awake, fully dressed, hair brushed, lunch and homework packed with shoes on. I hadn’t even woken him. My reliable, self-sufficient one. He was nursing a bowl of Nutrigrain. “Mum I’m fully ready for school can I watch YouTube?” he asks. At least he does what needs to be done first. I should take a page from his book. I say yes, then pick up sienna, carry her into the room to get her out of PJs into her school uniform and set her up with her cereal while I packed her lunch and reader in her school bag and went to go get myself changed. In the middle of doing so in my bedroom door flew open and in a burst Sienna in a panic: “Mummy your phone dinged two times but it’s ok I grabbed it for you.”

My just-turned-five-year-old seemed as stressed out as I did ignoring my notifications. Is this normal? Is this right? For the second time in the morning I gave contemplation to the impact of technology on the household… Well, more phones and apps. I finished dressing and sat on the bed. Several videos from husband. Explains why he’s late. Two work emails I replied to instantly and a retweet notification. I looked at the clock. 8:10am. Crap! “Come on guys it’s bus time!”

The three of us rush down to the bus stop. Sienna joins two other kindy kids in a game of tag. The six older kids are all absorbed in their phones. A high school girl taking selfies. I guess snapchat. The others are on YouTube, or TikTok judging by the noise. Even Thomas. When did the world come to this? Surely it wasn’t that long ago he was playing tag at the bus stop too. The bus arrived, and I hugged my children goodbye. Thomas’ eyes didn’t leave the screen. I waved goodbye to Sienna and her little phoneless friends in the front of the bus. The majority of kids I could spy through the windows had their heads buried in devices, including my son. He didn’t wave goodbye. He didn’t notice me. What’s the world becoming?

I get back home. It’s 8:35am. Work starts in 25 minutes. I pick up my phone, wandering into the kitchen to make another coffee. I never finished the first, it went cold. I watch the videos from Michael as I rinse my cup, boil the kettle and go back to my office to turn on my work laptop. I hear the kettle click this time. I go to the kitchen and make coffee. As I stir, I check work emails. A message from a colleague asking if I’m online yet. I reply no. It’s 8:45 and I start at 9. I respond to three meeting notifications when flick on Instagram again for five minutes before I start work. Why does Instagram have so many adds now? A new best seller novel is advertised. I wish I had time to read, I never stop. A couple of friend posts I like, then a “Morning Journal” ad, which captioned the importance of journalling and a morning routine. Wish I had time for that too. Oh well, my reminder beeps to tell me it’s 9am and time to start work. I open my laptop, then Outlook and look at my emails. Only one there. From the colleague I responded to fifteen minutes ago “LOL! If you start at 9am why are you responding to emails?”

Hold up!? Why am I indeed.

I’ve been up a little over three hours. I’ve been officially working for 4 minutes. And I’ve responded to seven work emails already? I consider this and the impacts, noticing a full basked of laundry in my ensuite needing washing. I grab it, considering how I’ve spent my morning. I open the washing machine and go to stuff the dirty laundry in, but quickly realise it’s full of wet washing. When did I do that? Oh that’s right, at 6am when I went to wake up Zac. Geez.

This used to be my morning.

This scene, or one scarily similar is playing out in most households in most western countries on most mornings. We are absorbed in phones, iPad or other devices before when we’ve even rolled over to kiss our loved one’s good mornings. From younger and younger ages this is becoming our norm. We waste time, the most precious commodity we have at our disposal, and we don’t know what we’ve even lost it too, all the while lamenting we don’t have time for the things we enjoy or the people we love. 

But this is normal right?

No.

Just because it happens everywhere, every day, it doesn’t make it normal. Adding to this, since COVID drastically increased numbers of people working from home, lines are blurred between when work starts and finishes. Expectations employers have of their staff in terms of connectivity is higher. This creates huge levels of anxiety, and even depression.

We feel scattered, always doing but never accomplishing enough. We feel guilty for forgetting things, and not being present enough.

We need to stop – for ourselves and our Children. But how?

We need to reclaim focus, and rid distraction. This isn’t easy, and until it becomes a habit, it takes hard disciple at first. But once mastered, bit by bit you will find a sense of accomplishment and some inner peace.

I’ve rambled here long enough, but before I go, not wanting to leave you in the air, here are five tips on how to reclaim focus and rid yourself of distractions. This will give you more time with the people you love, to do the things you want to do, and improve overall quality of what you do. Over the next five weeks I’ll go into each individually in greater depth:

 

  1. Determine your values and your goals, which will help you determine your priorities.
  2. Create lists: monthly, weekly and daily ‘To Do’ lists.
  3. Do all things mindfully. One thing at a time to completion before doing another.
  4. Create a morning ritual focussed on self-care that complements managing your
  5. Turn off your alarm. Wake up then and there, then don’t touch your phone for two hours. Clean your phone – turn off all but essential notifications. Delete what you really don’t need.

 

Join me next week to get started on feeling focused and accomplished in life.