• Jennifer Ann Chapman


Updated: Sep 12, 2019

I look into his big brown eyes and feel a flush of embarrassment, I have absolutely no idea what he just said. He is obviously looking for an answer, but I have no clue how to respond. There is that all consuming feeling of guilt again. My gaze drifts back to my phone for comfort, even though I know it will not help and it certainly does not have the answer my little boy is searching for. It never does.

I am here again, ‘Brain Elsewhere Syndrome’ (OK, this is not a real syndrome, do not google it, but it is the closest name I could think of to call it!). ‘Brain Elsewhere Syndrome’ is when there are so many distractions in my life that I am never fully present in the moment. According to Udemy's survey, nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70 percent) admit they feel distracted when they're on the job and I do not think this is mutually exclusive to the paid workplace!!! You know there is a benefit to everything we choose to do, therefore there is a reason we choose ‘Brain Elsewhere Syndrome’. So do we choose to be distracted at home because it is easier or more fun than dealing with the reality in our homes?

I have to say, I want to blame electronics! It would be so easy to say it is Snapchat, Fortnight, Facebook, Instagram or VSCO’s fault for taking over my family’s time, but that would simply not be true. Although these are distractions, it is very clear that it is our choice to participate, and honestly, that is the concern. So if we are going to actively take control of our ‘Brain Elsewhere Syndrome’, it must start with our choices, simple decisions and principles that we can instill in our homes right now that will eventually become habits to become more present in our own lives and the people we love, to #BEPRESENT.

Bedrooms: Bedrooms should be places to unwind from the world, find peace, relax and sleep! I truly believe that we should keep bedrooms free from electronics for us and our children. Kids will spend less time in their rooms, be more interactive, #bepresent, sleep better and we may end up learning more about our children's lives if they have to use their electronics in family spaces

Eye Contact & Engagement: There is nothing more important when someone is speaking to us, then looking into their eyes. And when they share something, we can show we are listening and #bepresent by asking a follow-up question. Eye contact and engagement shows our family members that we are truly listening and that they are our priority.

Place: It would be helpful to designate a physical place to put our phones within the home so we can #bepresent. Initiate a designated cell phone spot, where everyone makes a habit of placing their cell phones when they are home, preferably where there are charge cords. It does not mean we can not go check it whenever we would like, but it would hopefully break a habit of turning our attention to our phones instead of our loved ones in front of us.

Reach Out: Sometimes as parents, we must make the first step to reach out and get involved in our children’s world. We may have to be the first one to take steps to #bepresent by actively getting involved in something that another family member loves to do (even if it has to do with electronics). Taking time to learn and play fortnight along with my son will open up lots of #bepresent moments and if their favorite way to communicate is Snapchat, we should have our child set up a Snapchat account and start communicating in their language. We must reach out on their terms, not just our