While we are blessed with technology that helps us save more time and become more efficient in our work, the funny thing is, our lives have actually become more fast-paced than ever. We are constantly on the move – rushing from one task to another or one destination to another. Our brains are trained to move faster than our hands and feet could, and we are forced to multitask.
I could not remember the last time I ever slowed down to enjoy the nature that is around me, until Sam became a walking toddler. He would stop and examine with great detail at everything he sees around him – the airplane or birds that flew by him, the leaves and branches on the pavement, the ants by the soil, the pigeons that gathered to nibble on their food or even a dirt he sees on the floor of the void deck. His desire to stop while I am on the go often frustrates me more than anything else!
On good days when we are on time with the schedule, we could allow pockets of time to let him explore his environment. On bad days when we are rushed for time, I would either drag him off his feet to rush to school or tell him that we have to hurry up and smack him on his thighs if he protested. I know, I’m regretting what I’ve done too.
Children Mirror Our Behaviours
I finally realized the possible consequences when I noticed how Sam started to mirror my behaviors and mood. He would hit me ever so readily when he didn’t get his way, and raise his voice as I would. When it was time to go to school, Sam would pick up his heels, run tip toed as quickly as he could to his shoes and scream at the top of his voice, “HURRY! HURRY!” When it was time to shower, he would make the first dash from his room to the bathroom and shout, “FASTER! FASTER!” It was painful for me to see how he would rush when there was really nothing to rush about. After all, he was only 23 months old, his school was only a playgroup and the world will still go on if he bathed at 11am, 1pm or not at all.
Be There For Your Child….And Be Present
So why am I making such a fuss over getting things done and pressuring my poor son to rush with me? In fact, Sam’s leisure behavior can jolly well be educating me on the most important lesson of my life – to enjoy life in the present moment. What was hard for me was to let go of my need to reach perfection in parenting and to be patient with my child.
When I hit that realization, I began to take a little more effort to include time to allow Sam to explore if we had to go somewhere. For example, if we had to reach school by 8.30 am, we should leave the house by 8.00 am to allow him time to make his pit stops on his way to school. And if he takes a little longer than what was planned, I would remind myself that I should enjoy this precious moments with him alone, while he is still young – looking at the ants crawling by and laughing at each other while chasing the pigeons off the grass next to school, before these becomes only a memory.
No matter how many tasks I may try to clear on time, there will never be enough time in a day for me to complete them. And if I choose to clear the tasks over my child who desired to spend a few moments with me building his favourite Legos, I know that I will regret when I see the disappointment on his face and know that I have missed a precious opportunity to bond with him.
Whenever the day has ended, I will always be amazed at how fast a day or a week flew by, and how much Sam has grown! In a blink of an eye he is already almost 2 years old. Soon, he will go to school and need me no more. I really need a constant reminder to enjoy what I have now and to live in the present moment. To stop worrying about the future, and planning for what is ahead. Before I know, time would have flown by and the time we have with our precious babies will have be no more.
Present Or Absent? Slow Down Or Run Ahead? The Choice Is Yours
Choosing to live and parent in the present moment means taking a conscious effort to take a slower paced life and to enjoy your child. It could mean taking an additional effort to enjoy your mornings instead of rushing off to work, or putting your mobiles aside and enjoying what your child is doing for that moment, placing your child’s time to play over the load of dishes to wash, or it could also mean allowing them to stroll freely enjoying their environment even if it means being late for your appointment. Although the choice to slow down may not be an easy one, it may bring about a greater appreciation of life.
How will you choose to slow down and enjoy parenting and your child in the present moment? Share your thoughts with us by leaving your comments below.
By Yvonne Chee