Prior to having children, I would fill my days and evenings up with so many things to do. I was always on the go. My life was a blur. In fact, at times, I would play the song by Blur, titled “Out of Time” to remind me to slow down.
It’s lyrics included the lines:
“And you’ve been so busy lately
that you haven’t found the time
To open up your mind
And watch the world spinning gently out of time”
I would listen to the song, and I would try my best to notice everything around me: the sunset, the weather, the day or night, whatever, and just relax.
Before long, I would fall into the same trap, and become incredibly busy again. Days, weeks and months would fly by. I constantly lost track of time.
And then my girls came along. I was forced to slow down. It was definitely hard at first. Hard, because I have always seen myself as a high achiever. It’s hard to go from achieving everything I set out to achieve, to feeling lucky if I managed to get anything done in a day.
But I did slow down, and I soon discovered (much to my surprise) that I liked it.
Slowing down taught me so much. It taught me that I could take time out, and that doing so, actually gave me more enjoyment and energy to get everything I wanted to do, done, and if I didn’t get it done, it wasn’t worth stressing over.
Slowing down allowed me to destress.
When my first child was a baby, she would pick up on my moods. She would know when I was stressing and trying to get everything done. She would fuss until I breastfed her. I could never resist her. I would stop whatever I was doing, and would go into her room, sit on a comfortable chair and feed her. She would cuddle into me, and whatever it was that I was stressing about would no longer matter. Even as a baby, she knew how to calm me.
As she has gotten older, and my youngest has been born, my life has become busy again. My children have continued to teach me to slow down.
Ways that my children have taught me mindfulness include:
Put down my phone
Putting my phone down and focusing on them, not only gives them my undivided attention, but it allows us to actually have quality time together.
Working in IT, and loving technology by nature, this one has actually been tough for me, as I always checked emails or messages constantly and would use my phone for various reasons. Putting my phone down and only using it at certain times of the day (nap times or if the children are happily playing or sleeping) has helped me to switch off. I’m no longer a slave to my phone.
Learning to put my phone down has also been good for when I am out with friends. People that are present in my life get the highest priority with my attention than those that are not. Emails, texts and phone calls can wait.
Slow down and notice everything
Children never seem to be in a rush, unless, you’re at a playground or somewhere fun, and then they are constantly on the go. At home, they seem to notice everything, no matter whether they are inside or outside.
Australia is home to many different types of spiders. Some are harmless, and others can leave a very nasty bite. I am grateful to my eldest daughter for having the knack of always being able to spot spiders, particularly the nasty ones before my baby does.
When we are outside, everything has to be studied and noticed, whether it is the birds flying above, the leaves that have fallen down or the clouds that have formed in the sky. One day, my eldest was looking up at the clouds. I stopped what I was doing to join her. We both laid down on the grass, and when we looked up, there was a beautiful rainbow affect in the clouds. It was so lovely. Had I not stopped, I never would have seen it.
A whole new level of appreciation for art
Before children, my creative outlets were dancing, playing piano and photography. Photography, I would find particularly relaxing as it would always force me to relax, be calm and live in the moment. I have kept up my photography, for fun, as the children have grown.
Art, wherever children are involved, is generally incredibly messy. I can’t say I was ever a big fan of doing art with my girls when my eldest was younger, as, by the time I had gotten everything out, and everything was messy, she would be bored and I would spend longer tidying than we would ever do being crafty.
Now, as she has gotten older, art is something that we all seem to enjoy doing. Playing with color and being crafty has started to become something that is rather enjoyable. There’s definitely a lot to be said for the resurgence in coloring books for adults. Coloring is definitely a relaxing way to spend time being mindful.
Bubbles are one of those things that makes anyone, regardless of age, completely happy. I think I love blowing bubbles just as much as my daughters do. That said, only my eldest can blow bubbles. My baby would probably drink or spill the solution if she managed to get her hands on it.
Flying a Kite
I’d be lying if I wrote all about flying a kite and how that totally makes me feel zen like. I’m sure it does, or at least would do, if I only pulled out my (my eldest daughter’s to be precise) kite and flew it.
That’s the thing with parenting. There is never enough time in one day to get everything done. I imagine that flying a kite with the kids would definitely make me more mindful. It’s definitely on my to-do list. As is, attending the kite flying festival that’s held locally once a year.
If you have flown a kite recently, how did it make you feel? Were you super relaxed and aware of everything awesome around you?
What are some other ways that you have learned to be mindful? How have you learned to slow down? Or are you constantly rushing around, wondering how you will ever get everything done?
Learning to be mindful is definitely a work in progress. It is so easy to become completely busy and fill every moment of every day. If our kids can teach us one thing, it’s definitely to slow down and notice everything around us at any given moment.