I have a confession to make: I am constantly in a rush. In fact, the more I think I about it, the more that I can see how much of my life is spent hurrying. I hurry through my morning shower, through my breakfast, through my work, through my homework, through my shopping, through my cooking and through my cleaning. Often, as I rush around, I have my 9-year-old and 5-year-old in tow, which means I’m hurrying them along.
When my first child was born, my hurrying habit was temporarily broken. I went from spending most of my time at work to spending all of my time, day and night, with my newborn. Infants don’t understand concepts like schedules, so there was simply no point to hurrying. Any parent can tell you, though, that children grow quickly. My babies turned into toddlers and preschoolers and school-aged children. I went back to work, first in an office and then at home as a writer and editor. My kids started daycare and school and a extra-curricular activities. I went back to school myself. Gradually, almost without me noticing, my life sped up again. I returned to my old habit of hurrying through my days.
Looking back over my life recently, however, I’ve realized that I need to make a change. Our culture gives us the message that if we’re not busy, if we’re not rushing, if we don’t have too much on our plates, then there’s something wrong with us. I say that isn’t true. I want to enjoy the simple moments with my kids. I want to slow down and focus on my children as they are today, because I can never get this time back. Whether you have a baby, a toddler, or a teenager, your child will never be this age again. The big question is just how to take the time to enjoy them as they are right now. I’ve found a few things that help:
- Cut back on activities. Kids need free time to play, not tons of scheduled appointments to constantly be rushing off to.
- Learn to say No. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do, it’s a sign that you may need to cut back.
- Take a moment to breathe. If you’re in the habit of hurrying, as I am, you may find yourself rushing when you really don’t have to. Taking a moment to breathe can break that cycle.
- Ask your kids for help. Older kids can provide you feedback and offer suggestions. They can point out when you’re rushing needlessly, and come up with solutions so that your family can get out the door on time.
- Let go of unrealistic expectations. As I said, our culture looks at busy-ness as a sign of value, which can lead many people to place unrealistic expectations on themselves of being able to do it all. Letting go of those expectations can make life better and help you take things more slowly.
It’s not easy to break the hurrying habit and take life more slowly. Like anything, though, if you practice you’ll get better. That’s what I’m telling myself, as I take aim at my own hurrying habit again.
What about you – how do you slow down when life gets too busy and you find yourself spending a lot of your time rushing around with your kids?