“Life is what's happening when you're too busy to notice.” -Wayne Muller
In today’s world, it seems as though everyone is in mad rush all of the time. Modern day lifestyles are hurried, overscheduled, checklist driven, and complicated. Gone are the days of simplicity and really taking the time to live life. Today there just never seems to be enough time; not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week, not enough weeks in the year. Time is a freight train passing us all by yet so few people seemed bothered by this.
But I am. A lot.
Becoming a mom was my real awakening to this phenomenon. After the first few weeks of new mommy bliss wore off and life started back up around me, I really began to understand what time means. It deeply distresses me that so many parents do not slow down their lives a little so that they can not only enjoy their children but also allow their children to enjoy the world around them.
There are two forms of “rushing” in my opinion.
The first is the hustle and bustle of household chores, errands, activities, work, lessons, etc.. that occupies the majority of the twenty four hours we call our day. It does not seem to matter whether both parents work outside of the home, one parent works and the other stays home, one or both works inside the home, or any combination of the above. There is a rush to get everyone ready (and possibly out the door) in the morning. There is a rush to get to this store and that store. There is a rush to fix meals, eat them (forget enjoying them…no time), and clean up the kitchen. There is a rush from this activity to the next. Yes, some days may be less cluttered than others but there is always something else on that to-do list to tackle!
What does all of this hustle and bustle mean for our children? Simply put – nothing good. Nothing good at all.
Children are intrinsically programmed to live out their day in a “stop and smell the roses” mode. To them, there is nothing that needs to be hurried. Every speck of dirt should be inspected, every drop of dew scrutinized, every fallen leaf stomped upon. Parents might see this as dawdling or perhaps even being defiant. After all, mom has places to go and things to do and there is no time to savor the smells of an early morning rain. For children, this is simply development and an opportunity to discover the new and exciting world around them.
Take a moment and put yourself in your child’s shoes. Better yet, get down on your belly (or knees) and look at the world from their perspective. Really savor the visual experience that your child has at their physical level. Now take the visual experience and enhance it by clearing your head of all thoughts and really hearing what is going on around you. Perhaps a cat is meowing, or there is a hum from the dryer. Maybe there is a pitter patter of rain on the roof or a bird rapidly chirping. For a young child, there is nothing more thrilling than taking all of these little moments and adding them into their file of what’s what in their world.
As a parent, do you really want to deprive your child of creating sensory memories that are so crucial to their overall development? Is there a way that you can change the flow of your day to allow for more “rose smelling” time? Is there an activity you can do without? Is there a better way to tend to household obligations? Can errands be scheduled and combined more efficiently? Basically, is there a way that you can move towards a more simplistic lifestyle in which to allow your child the freedom to grow and develop in an slower paced environment? If there is absolutely no way to change your lifestyle to accommodate your child’s need for unhurried exploration and discovery, then I suggest you at least attempt to refrain from hurrying your child along while you are walking to the mailbox, playing in the park, of even taking out the garbage. Take as many opportunities as you can to just slow your pace a little and join your child in appreciating every little piece of the world.
The second form of “rushing” is a desire on behalf of parents to have their child quickly get past a current developmental phase or stage because it is either difficult for the parents to deal with or is wreaking havoc on the family’s schedule and lifestyle. I cannot understand why there is such a fascination with and acceptance of children growing up faster than they need to. I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every stage of my daughter’s development. Yes, there have been some rather difficult stages but I get through them knowing that “this too shall pass.” A parent will never be able to get any of those “firsts” back. To wish that they pass by quickly is denying your own enjoyment of your role as parent. While you are busy praying that your child will stop X,Y, or Z, you may be missing something delightful that is happening. So allow yourself to succumb to the ups and downs of development and refrain from hoping (and at times helping) your child to grow up too quickly.