The world of a parent can feel unrelentingly fast paced, chaotic and stressful, with no indication that it will ever slow down…at least not until all our kids are grown. There is an increasing need for us as parents to set the pace and create an environment at home that can help buffer our children and ourselves against a world that sometimes seems intent on sucking the life out of us.
Especially in Northern Virginia, there is no shortage of activities, events, responsibilities and commitments vying for our time. How many times do you think to yourself “I don’t have time for that” or, “if only I had time to ______”. At times, it feels like we can’t even enjoy or savor our best moments because we’re thinking, planning and worrying about what’s next. The irony is that we’re rushing so much to do everything and do it right that we’re missing out on the point of it all. Wait a minute, what IS the point of it all? To be happy? Fulfilled? To learn, grow, enjoy and get the most out of our lives? To create a rich, full and enjoyable life for our kids? Are we really doing that?
Amidst all the chaos, stress and activity, I think there is a need for us to create some calm in our lives. We can choose NOT to sign up to be on five different committees, NOT sign our kids up for two different sports, piano lessons and participating in the school play. NOT commit to attending 10 different events in a day. We can say NO. We can limit the number of activities our children do. We can carve out and preserve family time. We can choose to commit to less, so that what we DO choose to participate in, we can actually enjoy.
So, we have a choice. We can choose to place our child in healthier environments that foster growth without being stressful and overly competitive. We also can educate our kids on how to manage the stress, when they encounter it. To make decisions based on what’s best for them, versus what everyone else is doing. Most importantly, we need to model the lifestyle we want our children to emulate. That may mean, modeling tech free times throughout the day (that means, get off your phone or computer), having regular family dinners, preserve at least one night a week where there aren’t any out of the house activities. We need to enjoy some downtime versus rushing to fill it up. Maybe, we need to slow down a little. I think I can hear you saying, “How? I would if I could”. I challenge you to look at your life through a different lens. We DO have a choice. How many of your commitments do you REALLY have to do?
It would be a real tragedy to feel, that when our children grow up and leave our homes, that we missed being present with them and really enjoying the time we had with them, because we were consumed with the “what’s next” instead of the enjoying what was happening right then, in the moment.