Picture this: It’s been a long day. Your inbox has been bombarded, the unfinished projects are piling up, the bills haven’t been paid, your tank is on E, and you just walked in the door to a messy house with teenagers who haven’t picked up any slack and a toddler begging for your attention. Your mood is…stressed, to say the least. It feels as if nothing else in this day, week, or month could go wrong because everything is already a shit show.
What’s your first reaction going to be to this scene?
MOST people are probably going to walk into this scenario with their defenses up ready to give everyone an earful. Ain’t nobody safe.
But it’s been done before, and how does it usually turn out? Never the way you want. Everyone has a horrible evening, the kids are upset, nothing is fixed, and you just feel guilty for taking it out on everyone, perpetually digging yourself into a bigger hole where you feel even worse than you did before walking in.
We are always rushing to the next thing and jumping to conclusions. Having high expectations of others without speaking up and telling them what we want. How do we know what kind of day every other person in the house had too? We don’t. We selfishly look at ourselves and our feelings and that’s as far as we make it.
Our mind is stuck on how quickly we want to get through these responsibilities so we can breathe. So we can take a break. So we can watch tv or scroll Facebook, where none of these tasks require any of our actual attention.
But for what? Where are we trying to get to?
I have rushed through dinner and bath times. Scrolled my phone while simultaneously helping with homework. Tried to get out of bedtime stories to do something else instead. I have zoned out of conversations as they tell me about their day and nodded at the perfect times to seem as if I were fully invested in the conversation.
I am guilty of rushing. I am guilty of choosing the unimportant things over the important ones.
I think it’s safe to say that we are all guilty of this.
Then we plan extravagant vacations and buy our kids luxurious items to get their attention. We feed into consumerism to get on their radar, and then when we are there, we do everything other than pay attention to them.
Why are we so invested in making big plans and spending big money when most great moments happen between the big ones? How many times have you gotten lost in conversation on a Thursday on the drive home from school? Or during a really good snuggle after storytime?
I’ve had deep conversations with my kids on fifteen-minute car rides between events, getting a glimpse of their views and opinions, without spending anything other than my time on them.
They are only this big once. Get down and see things from their perspective and stop telling them to hurry up as they explore. We tend to ask our kids to move faster so that we can get on to the next thing.
I’m guilty of hurrying my son up when it’s time to get in his pajamas. He wants to jump on his bed and talk about his day while putting his shirt on and most nights I just want him to hold still so he can get his clothes on and we can hurry up and get through storytime. When I slow down and let him jump and talk and explore, he manages to still get his pajamas on pretty quickly but with a lot less friction and fighting.
Let them move through moments at their own pace, because to be honest, they are moving through life as we all should.
Inquisitive and naturally curious.
No preconceived notions.
While we are..
Mature and experienced.
Stuck in our ways. Timid.
Blinded by our preconceived notions.
Don’t Stand on The Sidelines
We took a family vacation a while back to the Enchanted Forest and decided to explore the park from our kid’s perspective. We didn’t stand on the sidelines while they explored. Instead, we got down and crawled through tunnels and went down slides and rode on the rides, experiencing it through their eyes. This allowed us the opportunity to connect with our kids while having a lot of fun alongside them.
We all want to show up as our best selves for our kids, but sometimes our instinct to control every situation smothers real connections and memorable moments with them.
We need to slow down, take a deep fucking breath, and let go.
Busy or Idle.
Working or staying at home.
Inbox empty or overflowing.
Chasing something new or content.
Building or built.
It doesn’t matter where we are in life, our kids DESERVE to have us slow and steady, attentive and thoughtful, curious and ready.