Time to Usher out the Old and Ring in the New

OK. When will I ever get it? The New Year comes around more quickly than I expect. Every year. Without exception.

So, why is it I’m always surprised that another page on the calendar is about to be turned? Am I a slow learner? An unobservant person? Or is it that life keeps me in a rush-around-hurry-up distracted mode?

I think that it’s the latter. And, even though I consider myself busy and engaged in life, I’ll once again reiterate that I’m nowhere near as busy as families with young children. I bow low to all of you in that category!

So,given that I lived that life when my children were young and having observed hundreds of busy families over the years in my tenure as a school secretary, I suspect I’m not alone in my dismay that another year has passed.

As I think back over the years to when my children were young, I have come to the realization that not everything is as crystal clear as the day it happened. In fact, after various conversations with my now adult children, I realize that there are some things I don’t remember at all!

How could this happen? I’ve always been the kind of parent who is interested in every aspect of her children’s lives. I’m not a careless observer or participant, so how is it that parts of my children’s lives and activities are hazy to me?

I think the answer lies in the fact that I mentioned earlier. Young families are uber-busy. It seems that everyone tears around trying to make sure that everything that needs to get done, gets done.

Society moves at an amazing pace. The more involved a family is with sports, clubs, classes and other activities, the more planning and thinking ahead is required. Even families who limit their children’s extracurricular activities find themselves in what feels like a race to the finish each day.

And, I believe, therein lies the problem with remembering the past. It’s so hard to stay in the moment when one has to be planning the grocery list, thinking about the details of Susie’s birthday party next month, worrying about the presentation at work tomorrow, etc.

The nature of our lives often makes us multi-taskers and that’s all well and good when it comes to getting things done. However, when only part of our mind is on what’s happening in the present moment, it seems we fail to gain the clarity we need to remember accurately.

Scientists have found that human beings only learn one thing at a time. If someone is watching a demonstration while listening to you explain something else, only one of these things gets turned into learning.

So it makes sense that if your child is in the back seat telling you about next week’s dance recital and you are suddenly thinking about all the things you need to do to get her ready for the recital, your brain isn’t grabbing on to the fact that your trip home is an opportunity for a memorable bonding moment with your sweet little six year old.

So what’s a parent to do? There’s no simple way to slow down your world. But any changes you can make to stay in the moment with your child is a step in the right direction. Here are a few tips you might find helpful:

  • Turn off and tune in.  Let your child tell you about her day without your phone buzzing, ringing or making other distracting noises.  Let her know that what she’s saying is important.
  • Organize what you can. The less your thoughts about what you have to get done are darting around, the more you’ll be able to focus on the present moment. Take advantage of all the great organizing tools that are around- starting with a family calendar.
  • Let go of the inconsequential. The world won’t end if you don’t dust every nook and cranny of  your house. Make sure the housecleaning basics are done and then take a moment to connect with your child. Reading a book with a cuddly little guy is much more meaningful than flicking a dust rag around the living room.
  • Make it a point to connect with nature. Just the act of observing a beautiful sunset with your family slows your breathing and pumps your endorphins, making you more aware of your surroundings. So make nature encounters part of your family life and – All together now, make a memory!
  • Practice, practice, practice!  Trying to stay present in the moment is like any other skill you try to master. You need to practice it diligently and often. The rewards you reap from your diligence will be life-changing.

So there you have a few simple tips I’ve come up with to help you spend more quality time with your children.

Who knows? If you really work hard on staying in the moment you might not be at all surprised next year when it’s time to usher out the old and ring in the new. Once you get the knack of it you’ll be turning your calendar pages with excitement, living each day looking for the next bonding moment with your child.

Thanks for dropping by today and spending a few minutes with me. Best wishes for a Happy New Year filled with special moments for you and your family!


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