Just writing the title to this post stings a bit. It goes against my every instinct.
Time is precious, watching my children grow has has made me painfully aware of how fleeting the days are. I am all about optimizing our days. Getting as much activity, learning, socialization and happiness packed into a day as possible. Carpe Diem! The problem with my drive to plan and plot the perfect ways to squeeze every last drop out of a day is that it often leads me to missing the point in the first place. I become so obsessed with planning how to optimize the present, I miss the now! (go figure)
I recently wrote on our chalkboard wall in large boldface print WASTE TIME ON PURPOSE. I need this in front of my face. I need an endless number of reminders to keep myself from getting lost in my head.
Confession, I’m not so into playing with my kids. One of the greatest perks of having several kids close together is that they play together. They occupy one another, when you want or need to do the dishes, fold the laundry or basically accomplish anything productive. When our oldest was young, to avoid “playing” with him, I would sit beside him and read every board book we owned aloud to him, rather than play.
While I am not into “playing” with my kids, I do love watching my kids play. I watch them take in the world and accept it just as it is. They assume it is good. They approach every freshly discovered critter as a wonder. Mulch is the most interesting tool to make piles that form castles or pools or mounds of ice cream! Quite literally the possibilities are endless. More than anything they are never, ever rushed.
This last fact can cause me a lot of stress. Like when I ask for the millionth time for my son to “put on his shoes so we can leave” and he responds with “Mommy, can I tell you something?” The new thought in his head is infinitely more urgent for him than whatever activity awaits requiring shoes and that we leave in a timely manner. Truly, there is no fast way to get out of the house with small kids.
There is a beauty in a child’s lack of regard for time. A skill we shed as adults in the name of being “responsible.” I think of the endless, wild, winding hours of my childhood with longing. These years both flew by and stretched out forever.
Now my approach to stewarding my time is to carefully plan each moment. Fill in all the empty spaces. Multi-task. Lists. Apps. Efficiency. Never waste a moment. After watching my kids I am reminded of what it is to embrace the day in a whole different way. I am beginning to question, to think, Are my lists really producing my best life? Am I cultivating wonder in my heart? Do I allow space to imagine the possibilities for my day? Do I engage my surroundings with appreciation? Or do my lists stir up my angst? Do they take my focus from the moment and onto the “next thing” to get done?
I am an adult so I can’t throw out the calendar altogether, but I’m challenging myself to approach making the most of my time in a new way. I strive to surrender myself to the long afternoon hours. To allow space to do something that produces nothing but joy in the moment. To leave some days entirely open and follow where the imagination leads. To give time to practice gratitude for the places and spaces around me.
I’ve gotta tell you letting go a little feels good. It means I can’t predict how each moment of my day will play out. New wonders are emerging in the midst of the mundane. Best of all, it helps me to climb out of my adult head and into their tender world for a little while and just be present.