Good golly time is going by in a flash. Just yesterday I was cradling my babies in my arms and now my eldest is starting school next year. It’s been said by every parent since the beginning of time – “They grow up so quickly, before you know it they will be gone!”
And this overwhelming sense of life being over in the blink of an eye is only getting worse. With our fast-paced lifestyles its no doubt life seems to be speeding up even more than usual. Have you noticed that the busier you are, the faster the time goes? The days where you have less to do (One can only dream right?) and you are mindful of the clock are the ones where time seems to drag and everything seems to slow down. Isn’t it funnier how I used the term drag – a word that describes the slowing down of time to be such a negative thing?
I’m becoming more and more aware how the speed at which we live our lives effects the time we spend with our children. How we rush through life so often missing the magic of connecting with one another. We bolt from one thing to the next and try make up for it on weekends, but even now, weekends have become a thing we fill with play dates, parties, shopping, visits to friends and family functions. It’s never really as simple as tapping out to relax and enjoy the moment is it?
Here are some ways you can try:
- Leave your phone at home. OK don’t all shout at once! I realize we are not living in the dark ages and I’m the first one to insist my gran take her phone out with her for emergencies, but try this: When you are going out for a family day together decide between yourselves who will be taking their phone. If it’s really just to be contactable then one phone between you should do. This keeps the other in check because we all know how it’s going to turn out if one of you doesn’t have their phone while the other one is scrolling through facebook. Not very well! Better yet, make a MINDFUL decision to both stay off social media and keep your phones in your bags. I’m trying this new thing where I only allow myself to take my phone out to capture a moment with it. Even then I’m trying to actually LIVE in the moment instead of being so caught up in trying to capture the perfect picture that I miss the perfect moment all together.
- Put specific time aside to talk and connect with your kids. We have started this thing in our house where we try to spend special one on one time with our kids individually every so often. As much as we like to encourage family time we all know how crazy it can be to really connect with all your kids, especially if there are big age gaps between them. As they grow their needs change as well how their love tanks need to be replenished. My eldest really loves to talk and to ask questions and learn about things, while my youngest who is only 3 enjoys physical games and affection. Every so often we split up for one-on-one outings to give them a dose of our undivided attention aimed specially at their personal needs. Sometimes it’s as simple as playing a separate game or reading a different book.
- Make one specific time in your day where you ask the same questions or do something consistent. My darling other half started this one – Every morning on the way to school they sing “Thank you Father” and then have a turn thanking God for 3 things. It’s a time of gratitude and it gets them feeling connected and mindful about their days ahead. Because they do it with dad it’s become something that connects them too and they love the routine and feeling of closeness it brings. It also helps with getting them in the car every morning, because they take turns to choose the music!
- Stop trying to be such a good multi-tasker. As moms we all know that mastering the art of multitasking is something we own with pride. It really is a pretty incredible skill to possess. Often, the danger is that we spread ourselves too thin and don’t give our everything to a specific thing at a specific time. We try to do everything at once instead of slowing down, taking a breath and focusing on things in order of priority. I know I do anyway. I get so caught up in all the things I need to do that I lose focus of my children. I’m not saying they ALWAYS need to be the center of my universe – they need to realize that I have lots of things to see to, but taking 10 minutes to connect with my kids means they are happier and content. It also means I can focus on the other things too while knowing my kids are feeling close and connected. This often means they are less needy in between the crazy!
- Take time to reflect at the end of the day – Like most moms, I often catch myself reflecting on the day spent with my kids (as well dealing with everything else life throws at me) and the things I know I could have handled differently. Not in a “I’m riddled with guilt” sort of way, but more “What moments have I missed to connect with my kids today and how can I try change that tomorrow?” Reflection is a wonderful thing because it shows us how we can change and do better. If we reflect carefully we may become more aware of the moments we let slip by where we missed an opportunity to be present -Watching them in the bath, joining them to color in for 5 minutes over a quick chat, letting them help with dinner. Yes often things that take 5 minutes but things top up their love tanks for a significantly longer time after.
- Slow down and stop overcommitting – I realize this one is so much harder than it sounds. The reality is that is doesn’t have to be. As busy moms we get so caught up in doing it all, we often forget to breath and just enjoy our lives. Too often we find ourselves on the hamster wheel of life, trying desperately to keep up with it all. Take time to prioritize and get back to basics. Often this means saying no to certain things. Saying no does not make us a failure. Saying no does not make us incapable. Saying “NO, I’m sorry it’s not in my capacity right now” can be the very thing that makes us stronger and wiser, allowing us the freedom to be present during a time in our kids lives where they need us most. I wrote this a while ago : Slow down everyone, we’re moving too fast, and it still rings true with how I feel!!
I realise it’s so hard to get to grips with these things when life is so busy all you really have time for is thinking of survival tactics to get you through your busy weeks. I realise our kids need to eventually learn that life doesn’t revolve around them every moment of the day. But do we really want these precious years to slip by without making the most of the time we have with them? I want to teach them that being together and the sense of contentedness we get when we are is one of the most important things this crazy, busy and often backward world has to offer.