“If you don’t have time for things that matter, stop doing things that don’t.” -Courtney Carver
I was really good at the busy life. Well, the staying busy part that is. I mean, my laundry piled high, I was a frantic mess when I had to accommodate for sick kids, and my self-care and personal growth sat the bench. But boy did we keep moving. For that, I was proud.
“Just a Minute”
One typical busy afternoon I gave my son the usual response. “Just a minute,” I said, for probably the fifth time that day. In my frustration with his lack of patience, I looked up and saw the exact same look in his eyes staring back at me.
He could have been waiting an hour to ask me for a cheese stick, to untie a knot, or how in the heck babies get inside bellies. I was too distracted by my busy life.
I began to wonder if all he’d ever been doing was giving me “just a minute.”
Since my busyness was actually for them, I figured the least they could do was just “give me one more minute!” After all, perfect motherhood takes time.
However, this busyness was causing me to miss the very life I was striving to craft. In the spirit of gifting my kids a high-quality childhood, I had forgotten that what they actually needed most was me.
The Land of Slow
I abandoned the busy life and set off in search of a present one.
Now when you’re so used to living at the fast pace of busy, slowing down to savor seems like a foreign language. It was kind of a culture shock really.
Every awkward, hesitant step, surprised me. Rather than boredom, I found curiosity. Instead of laziness, I discovered passion.
Even sweeter, it’s revealed a family closeness that can only be found in the slowness.
I’m more at home here than I ever was in the land of the busy. Here are five ways a slower pace has drawn me closer to my kids and given me the space to love them with purpose.
1. Longer Hugs
It seems like just yesterday I was on maternity leave, snuggled up on the couch with my firstborn watching Oprah. Since then, two other children have held that same spot on my lap, and Oprah? Well, she’s moved on to other things as well.
My babies aren’t babies anymore. If they climb up on my lap today, I have to endure the wincing pain of their bony knees and elbows protruding into my chest and thighs.
There were many days that came to an end and as the dust settled, I couldn’t recall if I’d actually touched my kids or not. Sure, there were head pats, shoe tying and quick hugs before school, but I’m talking really hugged them. Really sat with them, scratched their back or stopped in the middle of what I was doing to give them a mom-initiated embrace.
2. Eye Contact
Eye contact is just a simple, basic common courtesy, but the busy life makes me forget all about it.
I mean, I’m almost always with at least one of my kids. We chat and sing in the car together and I answer approximately eight bazillion questions a day. Slowing our pace showed me how little I actually look my kids in the eye.
Even now, if I’m not careful, if I’m not intentional, we will move through our day side-by-side, forgetting to turn face-to-face.
Seth Godin reminded me of the importance of eye contact in the book Tools of Titans, by Tim Ferriss. He said,
“Please don’t play the busy card. If you spend two hours a day without an electronic device, looking your kid in the eye, talking to them and solving interesting problems, you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn’t do that.”
3. Increased Patience
When I’ve overbooked our lives, my patience is the first to go.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself frustrated with my kids’ lack of attentiveness, all to stop, listen to my own tone, and realize they aren’t actually doing anything wrong. It’s me!
I’m feeling frantic. I’m overwhelmed. I’m overbooked. It’s me, hurrying them along, expecting more than they have to give.
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Independent play is vital for our kids. It stokes their imagination, problem-solving skills and curiosity. Most importantly though, it gives us the opportunity to get a few things done. Fist bump.
However, with a slower pace to our day, I find not only do I have more time to play with my kids, I actually have a greater capacity to do so.
In all honesty, I may still dread playing house, or worse, Pokemon, but, I enjoy my time with my kids more. Rather than rushing through, I search for things we all love to do. You want to make homemade pretzels, create an obstacle course or build a fairy house? I’m your girl.
5. Direction or Discipline
It’s easy, especially with my littlest, to let bad behavior slide when I’m overly busy. I just don’t have the time to deal with it.
The same goes for guidance and direction. When my to-do list is jam-packed, I forget to hear their high and low for the day, and miss opportunities to check in with their hearts.
They need us to be available for discipline, direction, and guidance. We owe it to them. Friend, those are the moments that have a lasting impact on their character, self-worth, and problem-solving skills.
Slow Your Pace
Choose margin, slow your pace and be attentive to the things that matter most.
Life is already full of so many uncontrollable variables and hectic seasons. We must be intentional with the moments that are within our control.
Abandon the busy life and build a fairy house. You just may find it to be rather therapeutic.
Meet Rachelle Crawford of Abundant Life With Less. Rachelle is passionate about her family’s transition from clutter and chaos, to purpose and peace, through owning less. On her blog, she shares practical strategies to owning less, as well as insight into what happens in the heart when we ditch the excess and turn our attention toward what matters most. Connect with her online here: Blog | Instagram | Facebook.
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