I don’t know about you but when I sit down to write another blog (which you’ll notice is not a frequent happening, although I am trying to change that!) my mind goes blank. All those ideas that swim into my mind while on the school run or stomping across Salisbury Plain on a dog walk or while persuading a 3 year old to do his business on the loo seem to somehow disappear the minute a new word document appears on the screen in front of me. Then my strongest life skill of all kicks in – procrastination.
Which made me start thinking – are we too quick to dismiss the art of procrastinating? Or could we actually embrace it as a life skill if we just utilize it more successfully? As a busy mother my mental ‘to-do’ list is so long I honestly don’t see how I could ever get to the end of it before the children leave home. And yet I often find myself with mini time-holes, 5/6/10 minutes before the school run or waiting for the dishwasher to finish; I find myself looking for things to do and yet so much on my list needs hours, not minutes and my time gets lost.
So I’m introducing the ‘procrasta-list’ – my never-ending list that is hanging on the inside of my cupboard, in no specific order, it’s just there. I am not using it to remind me of all I need to do, but as a way of utilizing my time more successfully. I’m introducing the power of positive thinking; instead of fearing my endless procrastinating I’m going to harness the creativity that procrastinating apparently brings me and use my list to get ideas for what to do in those mini time-holes.
All of which is very interesting but still doesn’t help me harness my blog ideas – so I’m also adding a blog list to my wall – a random collection of words and ideas that may one day become something more. I’m not sure if it’ll help me or not; it maybe that it remains a random collection of words because after all, what all these things need is time and as a busy mother time is something I lack…….
My youngest child started in reception last week. I have found it both exciting and rather sad. It is yet another milestone in the journey of his life, a life which seems to trickle through the hourglass at an unfathomable rate sometimes. I can’t help but look at my 4 year old on the brink of so much and yet I want to hold on to this miniscule human and stop this march of time for just a while longer. I want to relish the tiny moments, the missed words, the big ideas and the innocent adventure of life. I love the feeling of tight arms around my neck or the ‘I love you’s’, the way he snuggles up in bed next to me when he has had a bad dream, the way he bounces out of school full of stories and excitement about life. I want to press pause and hold on to him, to protect him from life, from hurt, from sadness and to protect his innocence.
Then I look at my elder child. I felt equally bereft when she started school three years ago, but I still had a tiny bundle of babyness in my arms and was reassured that I didn’t have to worry about losing him for a long time. And now I burst with pride looking at my daughter – she loves school so much and I adore our endless chats and sharing time with her. It reminds me that the inevitable passage of time has an evolving joy about it. One stage is simply the stepping-stone to the next one so that without even realising it a subtle stage change has occurred.
So as a parent how can we help to make the little milestones count, to mark the memories and yet not hold our children back? Maybe just being present more often. Take time to watch, to listen and to be part of their lives. When you ask ‘how was your day at school?’ really listen, ask questions and be interested. To them it is their whole world; bills, work and other commitments mean nothing to them and nor should they. Just be present. Put your phone down; turn off your computer and listen.
Try having golden time every day, even just 10 minutes when you focus exclusively on them whether it’s preparing a meal, reading a story or gazing at the stars; allow them to sometimes choose what this golden time is and go with their flow – be excited by what excites them, allow yourself to be led by them and let yourself live on the outskirts of your child’s life.
Make a promise to turn off your phone at weekends to have family golden time. Allow each person to have a weekend when they choose what to do. Maybe there is an epic board game battle, or hot chocolate on the trampoline, perhaps it’s making pizza all together. Allow everyone to have a turn – including parents! It only needs to be a short time but fun and together.
So try not to hold on to one time but to relish all the time, not to look back but embrace the future. Being present is the greatest gift we can give our children; after all, that’s what memories are made of and no one can take away our memories.