Learn how to make a huge impact in your Christian family as you set aside distractions and give focused positive attention to your people everyday.
Are you paying attention?
How often are you giving your husband and your children undivided, positive attention?
Yes, I know, the days are busy. And we live in a very noisy, distracting world.
But that is exactly why your attention is so powerful for your family.
The simple reality is, if you want to encourage and bless your family, you need to pay attention to them.
That might sound simple, but it is easy to miss key opportunities to show your people that you care about them. Listening well and giving them focused, positive attention shows them that. It makes a big impact.
So today, we’ll take a look at 5 common things in our normal everyday lives that are stealing your attention away from your family. Then, we’ll tackle 5 easy action steps you can take to get your attention back, and give it to the people who matter the most.
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As we’ve looked deeply into Proverbs 14:1, we have found many important pieces to being wise women who build up our homes.
Many of these ideas connect together to equip us as we now look at how our attention impacts our family. It is not always easy to give undivided attention to our people, or to make sure that it is positive attention! But embracing the qualities of family life that we have discussed recently will help.
- Holding onto your own positive attitude will make a big difference in giving positive attention to your husband and kids every day.
- If forgiveness is a struggle in your home, positive attention will not feel very genuine… or may not happen at all.
- Using your words well is a big part of showing your people that you are paying close attention to them.
The impact of positive attention
When we think about “positive attention,” it links back clearly to the goal of the Proverbs 14:1 woman – a wise woman builds her home.
Positive attention shows our husband and children that they matter. It is focused and undivided – you are not distracted by other things, but paying attention first and foremost to the person in front of you. In addition, the attention you are giving is positive. You might be giving a compliment, listening closely to what they are saying, or offering a specific word of encouragement or advice.
When you think about giving your family positive attention, it will include big moments and small moments. In fact, it is often the small moments of everyday life where positive attention has the biggest impact.
You can show your people that they truly are important and valuable to you by how you pay attention to them… or in the case of the foolish woman, how you might fail to show positive attention to them.
Are you juggling too many balls?
Mom life never ends. Actually, family life never ends! Hopefully, you enjoy quality time together and can have times of rest. But on the average day, family life is busy and distracting.
And moms tend to do the heavy lifting here.
I have no doubt that you have twelve things on your mind right now, at a minimum. You’re trying to fold laundry, monitor the kids’ squabbles, skim through this blog on your phone, and plan out what’s for dinner.
So many things need to happen for family life to run smoothly!
Many of these things are good. They are uplifting, fun, and important. But they are rarely as important as showing focused positive attention to your family.
As you consider the thousands of things on your regular to-do list and the demands on your mental, physical, and emotional energy… how are those things impacting your family relationships?
5 everyday things that are stealing your attention away from your family
It probably makes sense to you that positive attention will have a positive impact on your family. As a wife, you want your husband to feel cared for and loved. With your kids, you want to consistently show them that you are listening and caring for them.
But with all of the balls that you’re trying to juggle to keep the family running, there are some common things that are probably stealing your attention.
In my experience, it’s very rare that women try to ignore their people. I am confident that you believe it is important to spend time with your people and make them feel valued!
The world is busy, loud, and distracting, and there are some normal, everyday things that are making it a little more difficult to give your full, undivided, positive attention to your people, even when you want to.
1. Your phone is stealing your attention
Unless you are one of the rare individuals with an old-school flip phone, you have a computer in your pocket all day long and it is taking up a lot of your time.
Of course, your phone is useful. You can find a recipe on Pinterest, check your email, use the GPS to avoid getting lost, and keep track of where your kids are when they’re out of the house. Phones are super useful!
They are also super distracting.
Take a look at your screen time report in the “settings” app on your phone. Count how many apps you have downloaded. Try to notice how many times during a normal day you pick up your phone.
Those numbers are all probably higher than you think, and more impactful than you’d like.
There is no way that you believe your phone is more important than talking with your child or answering your husband’s question. But does your time on your phone show that?
2. Work is stealing your attention
Whether you work outside of the home, work from home, or focus solely on the work of the home, WORK is a part of the human experience.
And your work is stealing your attention from your family.
There is one type of work that every Christian mom does: we all do the work of keeping the home running smoothly. Yes, you might share some chores or tasks with your husband, but there is still great responsibility here and tasks that must get done.
This would include work such as: washing dishes, cooking meals, folding laundry, sweeping floors, and much more. These things must get done, but you need to be aware that they can threaten your ability to give focused, positive attention to your family.
- Are you always mentally distracted by thinking about tasks that still need to get done?
- Do you regularly tell your husband and kids to wait while you “just finish one more thing”?
- Is your attention always split, because you are multitasking and have trouble focusing on one thing at a time?
- Do you stop your children from playing with certain toys because you are too concerned about the mess?
Yes, get the household work done… but don’t let it steal attention from your family.
Many Christian wives and moms also work for a paycheck, either outside of the home or from the home.
Of course, while you are doing this work, it should get your full attention! That shows a healthy Christian work ethic. But again, there are ways that this might threaten your ability to give focused, positive attention to your family:
- Consider the number of hours you put into work VS family time (and of course, the household work has to get done sometime too).
- You will need healthy mental boundaries so that when you aren’t working, you aren’t spending your time thinking about work.
- If things aren’t going well at work or you are feeling stress about work, this could make it more difficult to show positive attention to your family. Don’t take these emotions out on them.
- It is possible you will miss some of your kids’ moments because you are working (a school assembly, or things like that) which could impact how they think about the attention they are getting, or not getting.
3. Stress and worry are stealing attention from your family
When there is a lot going on in life, it is very likely that it is not all going on the way you want. And this can create a lot of stress or worry for you.
Stress and worry can sometimes help you prioritize and focus on what is most important. It can remind us to plan for an upcoming family event or do the prep for a big project.
But stress and worry can also be very distracting.
You may find that when you are feeling stressed, it is much harder to set aside your mental worry and focus instead of your child or husband. If there is so much going on inside your brain, it will be difficult to give them your full attention.
Similarly, it may be difficult to give them positive attention. When you are stressed, you likely are noticing the negative around you more than the positive. You see things that need to change. These things might be true, but they also might lead you to give more negative attention to your family than positive.
4. Busyness is stealing attention away from your family
I don’t need to grab coffee with you and chat to know that you are busy.
If you’re a mom, you’re busy. As you manage a household, you’re busy. Add in some work, volunteer time, spiritual disciplines, and the many other things of everyday life… you are busy.
Being busy is not necessarily bad, but it creates a lot of risk for unintentional impact on your family relationships.
- The busier you are, the more distracted you will be from what your family needs.
- Busyness often impacts stress and worry, which make it more difficult to give positive attention to your family.
- Your mental energy has to go toward keeping all of the balls juggling in the air, and it might be hard to relax and slow down enough to give that attention to your family.
- Sometimes, everyone in the family is so busy that you simply aren’t able to get much time together at all.
If this is you, make sure to check out The Hope Planner. I pull mine out every morning to help me manage a crazy schedule while still keeping God and family first!
5. Heavy emotions steal attention away from your family
Anger. Impatience. Hopelessness. Frustration. Discouragement.
These are hard emotions. They are heavy and painful. And unfortunately, they are a part of family life. Everyone feels these things sometimes.
And when you are struggling with these emotions, it is much harder to give focused, positive attention to your family.
First of all, emotions like anger and impatience make it more difficult to focus on other people. The emotions are distracting! They impact how you are thinking and where you are putting your energy.
But also, these heavy emotions make it more difficult to give positive attention. You may not be in the mood to smile or chat about small things that your child wants to talk about. Little annoyances might feel like a really big deal, and you may struggle to engage positively with your family.
5 things you can do today to steal BACK your attention and give it to your family
I hope that it doesn’t feel too discouraging right now to think through these 5 everyday things that might be stealing your attention away from your family!
The main problem is, these things are very normal in everyday life. Most of us are busy. Emotions can always pop up and distract us. Our phones are with us all day long.
But there are things you can do that will stop these distractions and help you refocus. Let’s give that focused, positive attention to the people who matter the most.
1. Set healthy boundaries
Every distraction that we looked at above will be less of an impact if you set healthy boundaries.
You might set physical boundaries, mental boundaries, or even emotional boundaries. Each area will help you be more present with your family. And as you are more mentally, emotionally, and physically present, you’ll find it so much easier to give them your undivided positive attention.
What might this look like for the 5 normal distracts that we looked at already?
Boundaries with your phone:
- Use your “do not disturb” feature to protect from constant notifications.
- Create a “drop off zone” so you’re not carrying your phone around the home.
- Erase apps that steal your time, such as social media.
Boundaries with your work:
- Create specific time blocks for work, home, or other tasks.
- Use a “wind down” routine to transition from work to home, so you can focus on home.
- Reevaluate your hours and commitments and how they are fully impacting your family for good or bad.
Boundaries with your stress:
- Seek help for your regular tasks, so you aren’t alone.
- Spend daily time with God to give him your worries and concerns.
- Keep a gratitude list every day, to focus your attention on things that are positive and encouraging. (You can find a simple template in my Etsy shop.)
Boundaries with your busyness:
- Practice saying NO to things that are not a top priority for your family
- Create white space, margin, and space for rest in your family’s calendar
- Establish regular rhythms for day-to-day life, so that everyone knows what is coming next and when they can expect more (or less) attention from you.
Boundaries with your heavy emotions:
2. Slow down and simplify your days so you are less distracted and busy
There will probably always be a lot going on, because family life is busy. But you have more control than you think!
Some of the steps that I suggested about for setting boundaries will help you here. Practice saying no. Leave white space in your calendar.
But it might be most helpful to focus on your daily schedule.
You can start with your to-do list. How much is on it? And how much of that really matters? (And does any of it really matter more than giving your family positive attention every day?)
That may help you to then think through the flow of your normal day. How stressful is your morning routine, nap time routine, or evening routine? (Do you even have a routine?) Can everyone predict what is going to happen next on a normal day, or do they have to always ask you?
Your brain will be less busy and distracted if there is a normal flow to the day. And the simpler that flow is, the less you will feel busy and stressed out. You might even find that you have more patience to handle the little frustrations of regular life.
And you’ll find it much easier to pause in what you’re doing and give a moment of focused positive attention to your child or husband when the opportunity comes up.
3. Use your words to show your family that you hear them
Okay, my friend. This might be my FAVORITE tip. It is one that I practice all the time in the counseling room when I’m sitting down with a couple or a parent and child who are working on their relationship!
Show your family that you truly hear them, you really are listening, by trying this tip:
Repeat back or paraphrase what THEY said before you share your own thought, opinion, or suggestion.
This is such a powerful thing.
Everyone should feel the most heard, valued, understood, and appreciated in their own home. And the Bible has a lot to say about listening to people and loving them in this way! (Try reading the book of James if you want more here.)
And one of the best ways to show focused, positive attention to people is to let them hear you repeating back what they said.
Why does this have such an impact?
- It slows you down enough to make sure you really did hear what they said… not just what you think they probably said.
- They feel appreciated because their own words or sentiments are coming out of your mouth.
- There is a lot less for them to feel defensive or upset about, because you’re showing them that you hear them (even if you disagree with them).
- It can help them clarify their own thoughts and emotions.
- You are pausing what you are doing to not only speak to them, but speak their own words. Talk about showing them that they matter!
Until you build a habit of responding to your husband and children this way, it might not feel easy. Especially if you aren’t good yet at pausing the many things you’re trying to do, in order to respond to their question or thought. Just practice! It will get easier and easier.
4. Ask specific questions that are unique to them, and what they have going on
Sure, you can ask your husband questions like “Hey, honey, how was your day?” And you can do the generic mom thing and ask your kid, “How was school today?”
Those are fine questions.
But they are nowhere near as powerful as a UNIQUE question that is PERSONAL to them!
- “Hey honey, how did that big work presentation go?”
- “Sweetie, tell me all about your math test today.”
- “Did you follow up with your friend about that disagreement you had yesterday?”
When you ask a specific question that is personal to their own life, this shows them that you are listening and remembering what’s going on.
You are making them feel important.
And, this is very positive attention! You are remembering their life, their struggles, their concerns. By asking these types of personal questions, you are building the relationship and giving them time to share about the things that are important to them.
5. Pray for your family members out loud, while you are with them
I hope that you pray regularly for your husband, children, and family. Prayer is so important and so powerful!
(And if you need some help with how to pray regularly, grab my free 45-Day Bible and Prayer Challenge.)
But what I am suggesting here is a little bit different.
One of the ways to help give focused, positive attention to your family is to pray with them, out loud, for their specific concerns.
Hearing someone pray for you is very intimate. It builds the relationship, encourages the person’s heart, and takes them personally before the Lord. This is a very easy way to give attention to your family in a personal and powerful way!
If this feels awkward, start during your regular mealtime prayers. This is a natural time to add a quick sentence like, “And God, thank you for Johnny, Susie, and Tim. They are such a blessing to me.”
Over time, you can build this type of prayer into your daily rhythm of life. When your husband comes to you with a problem to solve, close the conversation by praying out loud for him. If your child is struggling with something, pray with them (out loud) for resolution or success.
Praying out loud for the people you love is a powerful way to show them that you care.
Listen to Episode #121
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.