Q: I own my own business, and I admit I'm something of a workaholic. I want to be more involved with my wife and kids and less distracted by business concerns. But I struggle to get off the treadmill and leave work at work. Any suggestions?
Jim: Gaining a sense of focus is largely a matter of clearly identifying our priorities. So, I'd suggest that you first reflect on what (read: who) matters most to you. Short of making some major changes to your lifestyle -- which might be worth considering in the long run -- the key is to learn to shift gears, slow down and mentally change locations.
One helpful tip is to find some personal "rituals" to perform to help set your work-based identity aside and leave your "office self" behind. The goal is that when you're at home, you're fully present in the moment with your spouse and children. For example, set healthy boundaries for yourself regarding after-hours work email, texts and calls.
When you arrive at your house each evening, I'd encourage you to first sit down with your wife and talk quietly for a few minutes before engaging with the kids or the TV. You might even go to your bedroom and change clothes -- both literally and figuratively. Mentally assume the demeanor and attitude of a loving husband and caring father, just as you'd put on a comfortable old shirt. Make yourself at home ... one hundred percent. Concentrate on the moment and leave business worries in the hands of your Creator.
For more insights, I'd recommend the classic book "Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives" by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. If Focus on the Family can help you through the process, please call us at 800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).
Q: How do I get my toddler to stay in bed? I'm exhausted and frustrated!
Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President, Parenting & Youth: Bedtime issues with infants and toddlers are common. Toddlers want to have control in ways that will calm their nervous system. The challenge is that self-control is usually weakest at bedtime. You're tired and your child is tired -- that's a recipe for impatience and battles.
Here are 5 practical ways to get your toddler to go to bed and stay in bed:
-- Develop a nighttime routine together; put a marble or cotton ball in a jar each time they follow the routine. Celebrate when the jar is filled to an established level (go to the park, get ice cream, draw or finger paint, take out a special toy or game).
-- Read a calming story together each night. Let your toddler pick out the story from a list of age-appropriate and calming books. Fun fact: A mom's calm voice can be regulating to a child's nervous system. Are you calm at night or stressed while trying to get your child to sleep?
-- Set up stuffed animals as imaginary guardians throughout their room. Have your toddler help arrange their nighttime protectors. Putting things in order can help their brain have the proper mental framework for bedtime.
-- Leave soft music or a calming story on while they go to sleep. Both can settle their brain just enough to calm it down for sleep.
-- Leave a night or hallway light on while significantly limiting screen time before bed (screens can be dysregulating and overly stimulating to your child's brain).
Most importantly, be as patient and calm as possible. The battles aren't personal. Your child is learning to manage their body, thoughts and feelings. Your investment of time and patience is priceless as you develop a trusting foundation for your relationship.
For more practical age and stage parenting tools, visit FocusOnTheFamily.com/Parenting.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or at Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.
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