Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Work Home and Family - Deliberately Slow Moments

One of the things that really hit me during our vacation a couple weeks ago was that we rarely take time to slow down and just be.

So, I decided to do something about that!

With John and I both in school and working it's challenging. And I means I have to be deliberate about things more than some other people who's lives are more relaxed to begin with. I've been reading a blog that chronicles people's daily lives and I'm amazed at how little people seem to do. Of course, if I wrote down what I do all day, it would seem less than I actually do as well, so I'm sure their days are more full than they seem on paper. It still made me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing too much.

Part of me responds to that by saying "Duh! Of course you are doing too much!" And part of me just cringes at the thought.

You see, I'm a bit of a type A personality - always on the go, needing people and activities to keep my mind focused and interested. I always have goals to reach and things to strive for. On top of that I was taught from the time I was little that you don't want to be idle - that idleness leads to bad influences and then bad decisions and behaviors. Don't worry, I'm not saying I can't read a book (heaven knows I read a lot) or spend time simply enjoying my children (that's a necessity!). It does mean that just watching a TV show each week just to watch it isn't really something I feel comfortable doing. Same thing with random net surfing (Swagbucks is frustrating for me since it takes literally months to mass enough to get a $5 Amazon gift card!).

Slowing down however and taking the time to be in the moment, something we did a lot of when I was growing up, is something I (and our whole family) have gotten out of the habit of doing.

I made some changes at work and school. Work on one project at a time. Only 3 email checks per day (that's the hard one!). I also met with my advisor and wrote out a timeline and a priority list. I only have two 'priority' projects on my list between now and August 13. That feels like such a relief! And it gives me wiggle room if something 'urgent' comes up. It struck me while reading about other people's lives on that blog I mentioned earlier that each of them seem to have one or two bigger things per day they work on and that's it. It's helping me be more productive and relaxed at the same time! I love it.

The other day I took a few minutes and wrote out a list of free things to do that are more 'in the moment' than what I usually do with the kids and with John. John and I are pretty good about taking our half hour each evening to be together and talk as well as making our weekly date night (mostly at home dates) a priority. The kids are another story!

Here's a couple of the things on the list for John:
* house hunt on line and dream (we're 4+ years away from a new home, but it's still fun!)
* look at our wedding album, our college albums or something like that. Giggle.
* read a book out loud together
* play a long board game (like Trivial Pursuit) together and talk
* sit by the fire pit and watch the sparks, hold hands and talk (this one's my favorite)

Here's a couple of things on the list for the kids:
* make a blanket tent and read books inside together
* play a long game of hide and seek
* have a picnic on a blanket in the back yard
* find bugs with the bug finder and count how many legs they have
* follow a rainbow
* take a walk together at the park (we have one a block from our house with a lovely walking path and a pond and a small foot bridge - oh, and lots of ducks!)
* feed the ducks and giggle at their antics
* take silly pictures of each other and email them to Grandma and Grandpa
An my favorite on the kids' list: eat a Popsicle together on the front steps and watch the traffic go by.

We've done a lot of eating Popsicles with the weather being hot and sticky here the last few days. And I've loved every minute of it. Especially hearing the things the kids think about! And exclamations like "Look Mom! An orange car! Can we get a orange car?" It's a hoot.

And I come away feeling excited about my life and refreshed in general.

And it really doesn't take that much time. I have found that 15 minutes slowing down and spending mindful, deliberate time, just begin with my family is worth its weight in gold and then some.

How do you deliberately slow down? I'd love to hear.

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