“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“My ‘to do’ list is longer than the CN Tower is high, my baby is teething, my older son has soccer practice and “wow!” it is already 4:30pm and I have no idea what we are going to have for dinner! Can I make something out of tomato paste and diet coke? I don’t think so!!!”
Sound familiar? This is my life. Or at least it used to be. Now don’t get me wrong, I still have days like this… but I am learning to have less of them, and that’s a good start.
If you feel overwhelmed…like you are going through the motions… forgetting what a rose looks like, never mind what is smells like, take heart. You’re not alone. But do yourself a little favour will you? At least humour me this one time.
The next opportunity you have to spend a little time with your child(ren), try something. Take a deep breath and put your ‘to do’ list down. It doesn’t matter if you can spare a day, an hour, or even 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes. Can you spare that? I bet you can. Now here is a little exercise you can try instead of folding the laundry, because if you and your kids have clothes on, the laundry can wait. All you have to do is stay in the present moment.
Go outside with your child(ren) for a short walk. What is the first thing your child notices? A house under construction? Snowflakes? A shiny red car? The yummy taste of the Popsicle he is eating? A living creature? It could be anything really.
Let’s take “a living creature” as an example. And let’s say it is everyone’s favourite little pest – an ant – scurrying around an ant hole somewhere in your yard or on a sidewalk.
Now take a few moments to stop and take a closer look with your child. Is it a big ant or a little one? How is it moving? Is it going fast or slow? What different colours do you see? Are there more than one? Is it carrying anything? Eating something? Point out the ant hole. Answer your child’s questions. Tell your child what you are wondering about as well. What is something your child already knows about ants? Talk about these things. Notice the number of legs an ant has. Encourage your child to use their senses. Do they make any noises you can hear? Will they touch the ant? Do they smell?
Very quickly, you and your child will be experiencing learning while at play.
Now…notice how you feel. More connected to your child? More connected to your life? More in the moment? And even perhaps…interested in all there is to know about ants?!?
Now if you have a camera on you – and many of you do these days with the invention of smartphones – take a picture or two. Get your child to take a few as well. Maybe they want to get a picture WITH the ant(s).
And oh what fun it is to expand on this little adventure!
Maybe it starts to rain and you go indoors. Now what were some of the questions you and your child were pondering about ants? A plethora of information is at your fingertips! Sit down at the computer with your child and teach them how to spell “ant” if they don’t know this. Help them sound it out! Now do a simple search to find out a few interesting ant facts. If you prefer…take a trip to the local library and select a few books about ants. Not only will your child think this collaborative learning is fun, but you are both together, still in the moment. And hey…you will probably read a few things yourself and quip, “Who knew!?!
The lesson can go on as long as you and your child find it fun and stimulating. It can even be done over the course of a few sessions depending on the structure of your life, your child’s age, etc. Draw a picture or make an ant out of an egg carton box and pipe cleaners. I’ll bet your child will be very excited to share what he or she has learned/made with an older sibling, a friend, a grandparent.
And guess what?
Suddenly, you will realize that much of your “to-do” list is much less important than what you just experienced. And after the next soccer practice you maybe you, your child and probably a few curious teammates and their parents will suddenly be observing a few little ants on the sidelines. And your will realize the soccer jersey that had a little dirt on it beforehand has a little more on it now.
And it won’t matter. You have given yourself and your child a gift; a present.
And you have started something that will create memories that will last a lifetime.
Lora Rossi is a mother of three, wife and writer who blogs about life on her website The Hugging Home.