Parenting: Making an Uninterrupted Phone Call with Kids
You child or children could be sitting there quite happily, playing away, when ring ring there goes the phone. or if it is your mobile possibly a funky pop tune ‘I’ve got the moves like Jagger’ The child looks up, the child is now on high alert attention seeking behaviour ( also known as very normal child behaviour) one of their major competitors (sometimes this is a sibling, a computer, your work, the going to the loo trip etc..) but right now it is the phone which has mum’s attention. There is no way that this phone call will get your full attention when your child launches into “I am here right now and I need you this very second more than life itself “
“Yes, I know I was quite happily doing my own thing a minute ago but now that you are on the phone, I really need your full attention, every ounce of you is mine, give yourself to me now!”
“Look at me mum ! Look at what I can do this very instance! Let me tug your leg, your arm, your foot! Let me keep calling you mummy, mummy, mummy! Whatever you do do not give attention to that phone call. Look I’m here. I’m much more interesting and right this very moment I’ve decided to be right in your face, body, space and head!”
The crux here is the phone, it is your child’s competitor, they know your attention is not focused on them and they will do pretty much anything to get you off it whether it be an amazing feat they have really just accomplished or an amazing feat in their imaginary world of “I need you right now!”
How to Make an Uninterrupted Phone Call
Now, I am not promising immediate miracles ( we are talking children here they have their agenda) in that you will be able to chat away on the phone for longer than 5 minutes but an uninterrupted 5 minutes is better than nothing, well it is in my world. The only realistic tips I suggest for a long phone call is wait until the kids are not home, wait until they have moved out of home, make a call when they are in bed fully asleep or make sure there is another adult around to keep an eye on the kids and go into a different room and shut the door, I also find escaping to the car in the drive quite helpful.
To make a phone call in peace is an acquired learning skill for your child and involves preparation and repetition. As do most things when you have children even the simple basics of having a quick shower takes preparation and still they knock on the door with urgent news like “At school today when the teacher was talking to us about how important it is to drink water because our bodies are made with lots of water I told her your body is made of red wine” Thanks Mr 7.
With toddlers it is practically impossible to do much for yourself and over the years this is what I have learnt.
- Role playing with a child and a toy phone, show them what to do. Pretend the phone rings and put your finger to your lips with the Shhh sound.
- Let your toddler hear someone on the phone speak to them, so they understand that you have to focus on listening to the person talking on the other side. Most toddlers actually see the phone as a game, especially today when they do play games on them.
- Prepare ahead if you are going to make a phone call, spend time on activity with the child, set them all up and say Mum is going to make a call, you carry on and I will be back to help you finish, or can you finish this on your own and surprise mummy. We all know children love to surprise mummy.
- Puzzles, threading, a movie, drawing, dress ups. Prep any activity that will keep your child busy for 5 minutes.
- Prepare a box, with 1 or 2 activities that the child plays with when you are on the phone and it can actually become an exciting novelty for them. With older kids start a competition box, download kids colouring competitions and collect coloring competitions at the shop. When you are on the phone they could be on their way to a winning a prize.
- Sneaking off to make a phone call with out telling the children does not always work they have inbuilt phone radar, so its best to tell them and prepare.
- It does take practice but it can be done, preparation is the key and if you get a call and have not prepared ask whether they could call you back in a few minutes while you set your child up.
Also show your child that every call does not have to be answered, we never answer the phone at dinner time, that is our family time let it go to voicemail or the answering machine and more often than not it is a sales call or some virus scam call form India asking for remote access to my computer so that can delete the virus and they can then have all my passwords. I don’t think so.
If you start this early on, you will find it has quite a good success rate. When my children were toddlers I could make about a 15 minute call without interruptions from my kids, but only when I prepared them “Mum is going to make a phone call or answer this call” or occasionally we played hide and seek and I hid well. There were many occasions they where they are absolutely brilliant and then the Mr. starts to talk to me whilst I am on a phone call as I point to the phone at my ear and he says “Oh you are on the phone I didn’t realise” With the other half a beer and a TV show normally keeps them distracted long enough .
When you do finally make a call with no interruptions, thank the child and give them a few minutes of one to one quality time, a ticking session, read a book really anything to show you appreciated how good they were whilst you made the call.