Living in the Present - Really Seeing My Kids
By Kirsty Rice - 13th February 2012
I'm trying not to begin the countdown. Last night at the dinner table everyone started making their calculations. How many weeks until our guests get here? How long until Easter? And then it came "well how many weeks until we go back to Australia for school holidays?"
Last year we began the countdown at 17 weeks.
This meant that every Thursday morning (the end of our working week) we would drive to school and talk about exactly how many sleeps and what we would eat and where we would go and who we would see when we got there - which was all fine. However, it was all in the future.
This year I am living in the present.
I've wished away far too much of my life. When the children were babies I wished mostly for sleep, but I had milestones along the way that broke up the time. I wished away pregnancies "only 12 more weeks". I couldn't wait until she she would sleep through the night or sit up on her own. I couldn't wait until he could hold his own sippy cup. I couldn't wait until she could crawl, walk, talk, buy me a beer.
I began sentences with "imagine when they can bath themselves" and "imagine when they can brush their own teeth". We counted down the days for every holiday, days until G came home, days until Granny arrived. And while I was marking the days off the calendar, I never stopped to realize that I'd just lost another day of my life.
I'm not losing any more days. I'm slowing it down. And I've come up with 5 ways to do it.
1. Get offline.
Anyone else sit down at the computer and look up to discover they've just lost an hour of their life? From now on there are set times for surfing the web, scanning Facebook and giggling over Twitter. I set very strict screen time for the little travellers but not for myself? Ah, the sweet irony of parenthood.
2. Put my phone in my handbag.
I carry my phone in my hand, this means I am constantly looking down. I do it without thinking, I glance for an update, a message, an email. I glance while I'm at the cash register, I glance while I wait to pick up the children. I glance when I see someone else glance. Have you ever noticed that technology is as infectious as a yawn?
3. Schedule my day and stick to it.
I work from home so my time is a little too flexible for my personality. It's time to stick to the schedule. I can drag anything out. Whether it's the gym, the grocery shopping, a "quick" coffee, or cleaning out the kids cupboards. My calendar now has a timetable of blog/book/articles/communication. It also has the fun stuff like coffee and gym but no more wondering around over to get a towel and striking up a lovely chat with the elderly man who's going skiing in Switzerland with his wife in a few weeks. They have three children and six grandchildren, scattered all over the world. Their daughter had some health problems but all is well now. They like it here, they think they'd like to stay, they just bought a new car..... twenty minutes later! I really didn't need to spend those 20 minutes shooting the breeze by the water cooler. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Shut up.
Over the years it has become apparent that I could strike up a chat with a basketball hoop if I was in the mood. If I've ever wondered where the time went it was usually because it was unproductive time. If I've written 3,000 words that morning I know exactly where the time went - if I've spoken 3,000 words, not so much. I can still chat, I just need to remember to keep an eye on the time.
5. Stop and look.
I am determined that I will look each child in the eye at least once a day. I know this sounds ridiculous, I drive them to school and pick them up every day. We go to activities, talk in the car, I lean over homework and wash hair in the bath that night - but there have been evenings I've laid in bed and wondered if I actually stopped and took the time to see the little travellers. I am going to really try to not rush them in and out of the car, to the bath or the dinner table. It doesn't make it any faster when I clap my hands and raise my voice. But let's just say, ahem, for arguments sake that we ARE running late and consequently in a bit of a hurry. I will take the time to see their faces when I kiss them goodbye.
Everyone needs to be seen.
What do you think? Any tips? How do you make the most of each day?