How to Navigate Interruptions

Interruptions are part of our lives. As mothers we constantly are bombarded with a stream interruptions that cause us to live lives of stops and starts. Sometimes it feels challenging to complete a single thought from start to finish.

So discerning interruptions is paramount. It can make a HUGE difference in our lives as we wade through these sometimes murky waters.

Pray for Wisdom

This may sound trite to lifelong Christians but I assure you it is not meant to be. If we know that we are struggling in this area the wisest first step is to turn daily to the Lord for wisdom. Starting the day seeking HIs face about this specific struggle could be the game-changer.

How to Deal with Interruptions

Seek Discernment

Being able to judge well in the midst of distractions is the challenge. Often times, as busy moms, we are dealing with the tyranny of the urgent. And what our children consider as “urgent” often doesn’t agree with our definition.

Once when calling to interrupt my mom (which I did often) my call was intercepted my a dear friend. He happened to be the Superintendent of the School Board and was quiet familiar with children, especially me. I asked to speak to my mom.

He said, “Betsy, Is anybody bleeding?”
”No sir,” I said.
”Is there anyone in danger?”
"No sir.”
”Is there any other real emergency?”
”No sir.”
”Then leave your mom alone and let her enjoy her evening.”

That conversation has been a reminder to me for decades.

What our children consider important is not necessarily important. Unless it is. That is where the rub comes in.

Many times we know. But other times we don’t.

There are times when the just want what they want when they want it. This one can be easy to spot.

But it is those other times that we need this discernment to determine what is going on.

Enter the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that it was good for us that He was going to the Father because He was going to leave a Counselor for us. And I don’t know about you but a counselor is EXACTLY what I need in these circumstances.

Take time to stop. Just stop.

Yes, it might be inconvenient to the one doing the interrupting (that might be a indicator in and of itself). But sometimes we just have to purpose to turn our thoughts to the Lord and seek HIs direction. Just slowing down for a moment to step back and look at the situation from a different perspective can be a huge help.

Don’t feel pressured to make someone else’s “urgent” take control…unless it needs to. Blood and intense pain are obviously urgent. Those are no-brainers.

But (in a similar vein) if we have one child that screams in pain often because they aren’t getting what they want or life isn’t going their way, that is a different matter. If all they have to do is scream to get shot up to the top of the “urgent” list then they are smart enough at almost all ages to figure that out. You may have to set healthy boundaries and do some re-training with the child. But don't feel defeated…you see a need that you can work on.

How to Navigate Interruptions

Recognize what we are saying.

When we let a child jump into a conversation or situation at anytime we are communicating to the other people that this child is more important. Now some of you are saying, “But Betsy, of course my child is more important than other people.” I hear you. But it is healthy for us to teach our children that sometimes other people come before them...even with us. But if we don’t teach this to them as children, life is going to be extremely hard for them as the world teaches it to them as adults.

But this also comes into play in our own families. As parents we need to understand that when one of our children takes precedence over the other ones REGULARLY we are saying to our other children that one child is more valuable that the others. This is not the picture of our heavenly Father who values and treasures each and every one of us.

I am about to make a bold statement that may rub some the wrong way….No matter the age, we have to communicate love to each and every one of our children that he/she is valuable enough for us to prefer them at times.

There were times when we had a baby that I let the baby be in the crib or in his/her room while I paid complete attention (without a baby in my arms) so that our older kids felt loved.

Constantly expecting older ones to yield to the younger ones is hurtful. And the sad thing is they may not feel like they can even say anything because what has been communicated is that they “should” always be willing to step aside for the younger one. To say anything different would be selfish. We have stolen their voices.

But we can start today making a place for them as well. We may be shocked to see how touched our older kids are by our intentionality.

Don’t be scared of conflict.

Conflict is not a bad word. Dealing with a child’s choices when we set up healthy boundaries is something we get the privilege to teach them. Insisting that they learn to wait for their turn to talk is a life skill that everyone of us has to learn. (And it is still hard as an adult.) The earlier we start working on it the better.

Placing a hand on your arm when they are wanting to say something to you during a conversation is helpful. Letting them know you hear them by placing your hand on theirs is a great response. When there is a good stopping place you can turn to them and listen.

But if they have grown accustomed to getting their way the moment they want, it this may take some time. I promise you this issue is worth your efforts. We don’t want to train our children to be entitled and selfish. But can do this! Yes. We. Can.

I do want to add, if you in a job like pastoring, when a lot of your time is spent taking care of the needs of others this might need to be different for you and your children. You may have to set a child precedent.

Because the honest truth is other people are CONSTANTLY wanting your attention. So you may have to address your interruptions delicately and be very intentional with your children.

One pastor I know of made a policy with his children that they had permission to interrupt him whenever they needed him (not always wanted, but needed) and he taught them how to manage that well. They knew they were a priority to their dad.

There are times that call for complete attention.

Some seasons are busier than others. There are times when we need to realize that we haven’t paid attention to our children very much. In those places we may have to regroup. We may need to reconnect with them and also be quick to stop when they interrupt. We also may need to just pull away with them alone too.

So ask the Lord. He will help. He wants to help.

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