Slow Down, Mama

My daughter was an early walker. E started walking at around 10 months, and her little legs could barely keep up with the spirit inside her that was ready to fly, much less run. Now at eighteen months old, she’s on the move in every way.

The other night, my parents treated E and I to dinner in La Centerra Katy, and while we waited for our food to arrive my mom and I took my squirmy toddler for a little play-time on the “green” right outside the patio area where we were sitting. She always wants to run everywhere, and pick up everything, and say hi to everyone, and I adore that about her–even when I’m too tired to chase her around.

After some good run-around time we decided to see if the food had come, so I scooped her up to head back over that way. She protested, as she always does, and insisted I let her walk. So, I did, and she happily held my hand in one of hers, and my mom’s in the other and we very slowly made our way back to our table. But, lately I’ve noticed myself having a harder and harder time just slowing down because, since becoming a working mom, I’ve begun to view everything as a “task.” And even as we walked hand-in-hand on this night with nothing on the agenda but spending quality time together, I could feel my blood pressure increasing thinking of how much time we were wasting.

At that very moment, my thoughts were interrupted as my I felt E pull on my hand and, without any prompting, threw her head back with a sublime smile on her face and said “SKY!!!” as she grinned up at God’s wonderful creation in pure awe. She paused for a long moment to look at the deep blue celestial sphere above us, and the glowing moon, and watched some birds fly past.

After a long pause, her toddler mind was onto something else. But mine wasn’t. I was stuck there thinking about how much I needed to learn from those few seconds.

As we continued the walk back to our table, I thought about how slow we were moving so that her little legs could keep up with our grown-up steps. I thought about how much of an effort I was making to keep myself from moving at my usual quick pace. And these thoughts were terribly sobering. Because, while I’m moving at three-times the speed of my daughter just trying to accomplish tasks, texting and calling and emailing and scheduling with my iPhone in hand constantly, at least two things are happening: 1) I’m missing those fleeting moments of her littleness. 2) She’s learning from me.

be in the moment.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but… babies don’t keep. They grow up so dang fast. In eighteen months of E’s life, she went from not being able to do much more than sleep, drink milk, and poop, to practically speaking in actual sentences and trotting away from me so fast that I often need to pick up the pace and full-on chase her. It’s unreal. And she’s done everything earlier than I expected. Next thing I know, she’ll be in school, and then getting her driver’s license, and then graduating high school… I’m getting way ahead of myself, but, truthfully, I need to sometimes. Because it helps remind me to be in the moment with her; to stop thinking about the task or the to-do list and just cherish the time we have right now to look up at the moon together.

be the role model.

I also want her to maintain that childlike wonder of the world and the good sense to appreciate moments before they pass. I don’t want to accidentally teach her to be so task-oriented that she forgets to slow down and be thankful for the beauty and light and love all around her. It’s important for me to model how I balance my task-list, spending time with the ones I love, and sometimes just literally stopping to smell the roses {without the intention of an Instagram post}, on a daily basis. I think it’s also important to intentionally “unplug” sometimes. Call me a hippie earth mama, but turning off technology and returning our minds and bodies to nature frequently just does something amazing for our polluted brains; they’ve done actual scientific research to prove it! So, I’ll definitely be taking my girl on little “brain retreats” in the future and we’ll spend the whole time discovering and adventuring in the wilderness together.

Admittedly, sometimes these ideals are just that: ideals, nice thoughts. They are much harder to put into practice. So, I’ve compiled a short list below of practical, applicable ways to integrate little moments of pause into our busy, scheduled lives. Try them out, find something that works. I can’t promise you that it will slow down time {if you figure out how to do that, DM me}, but it will help slow YOU down–in the best way.

  1. Keep a journal.
    This simple practice requires pause and reflection. I recommend doing it at night as it will help point out to you what you need to pay more attention to as you think back on your day.
  2. Find ways to involve your kids in whatever you’re doing.
    The housework is not going away, sadly. But you can include your kids in many of those household tasks, even if it’s just carrying a sock to the washing machine {especially while they’re really young and don’t realize you’re putting them to work!}. As a plus, it will also help teach them some basic skills!
  3. Eat dinner together every night.
    There has been so much research conducted on how important it is to eat dinner as a family. Who knew?! This is a hard thing for many families to accomplish because of sports games and work schedules, etc, but it can really become a platform for some valuable connection time. Put your phones away, turn off the TV and have some real face-to-face conversation.
  4. Plan a “family date.”
    If you’re a planner, like me, or your family tends to have a full calendar, then it can help to schedule some intentional time together on a weekly basis. Make it something special, and make it more important than any other event on your calendar.
  5. Take a “brain retreat” together.
    Our kids are completely inundated with technology. They can’t escape it. So rescue them {and yourself!} from the tight grip of connectivity and go away for a few days to just unplug from social media and the social expectations that come with it. Visit one of the nation’s hundreds of state parks–they’re cheap {or free!} and beautiful!

Mamas, I know there is more work to do than you feel will ever get done, and it feels like it’s all on your shoulders. But the most important job we have right now is helping shape the future of humanity… no pressure or anything. I love this advice from Mother Theresa, and it’s what I will leave you with today: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Add to the list! How do you slow down and spend quality time with your family?

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