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  • Writer's pictureKristin Helgerson Frigelj

What to do when distractions run your day as a mom

I was reminded of this conversation recently that I had with my group in one of my summer cohort coaching sessions. We were chatting about distractions and how mindfulness practices can help with keeping your focus on the task at hand.​

Now, mindfulness is a strategy that takes practice. This is why we say we practice acceptance and commitment therapy strategies.​

A common struggle shared by many moms was they often felt their attention was pulled away from a current task by the many, many other things to be done at some point in the future.​

In fact, research says that close to 50% of your day is spent thinking about things other than what you’re doing at the moment. That is a lot of unfocused, and potentially wasted, time.

Maybe it’s what to make for dinner or an event approaching this weekend or the doctor appointments needed to be scheduled or a few work task thats you feel uneasy about…​

The list goes on and on. (Hello, invisible mental load!)​

I’m going to take you on a quick sidetrack for a moment so stay with me…

​In behavior analysis when we aim to decrease the occurrence of a behavior we examine the function of it (e.g., what is the person getting out of that response to keep it going?).

And then, we aim to put in place a new behavior to replace that less desired one.​

Now, what’s important is that those two behaviors match up in function — meaning that even if you stop doing that unwanted behavior, the new wanted behavior will get you what you got before (or something along the same lines).

Basically you’re not losing out on what is desired and preferred. If we didn’t, that pesky unwanted behavior would be a whole lot less likely to go away because we’d never be feeding that desire/motivation.

Now let’s think of those little distractions that are always pulling your mind away as things that you are seeking and things that you may need.​

If we tell our minds to stop thinking about these things and never give them what they are asking for, we’re going to be a lot less likely to be successful at focusing on the current task.​

Instead, try noticing what is pulling your mind away and then make space for that thought at a future time.

If worrying about what to make for future meals tends to take up a lot of your time during other tasks, then your brain is saying that that is an unmet need requiring attention.​

Unaddressed thoughts are not going to slip away quietly into the night. They’re going to keep popping up and typically at inconvenient times.

Putting mindfulness and pattern-noticing habits into practice will start to increase your ability to stay on task in the future.


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