Living in the moment is perhaps one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to learn since becoming a parent. You think about the time, when they’re born – and you’ve got a lifetime, literally all the time in the world. Then, they become toddlers, they walk, they start talking, they start putting together sentences, they start forming opinions, they start to want to fall asleep in your arms less often. You learn just how quickly they grow – you learn just how quickly the time passes, and one day, you begin to be mindful of living in the moment. It
It took me a few years, as a parent to begin the journey of being able to live in the moment, of being able to play – of being able to savour that time without thinking of the many other things that I should be doing, of being present.
How Did I Learn to Be Present?
I got organized. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to jump while learning to live in the moment was the list of things in the back of my mind that I needed to do, the things that I needed to accomplish. Getting organized and using tactics like getting up an hour before the kids, and keeping a clutter free home left me without the list of ‘household’ or ‘work’ things to do. Want to get on the track to getting your house organized and clutter free? Start with these tips, the system works.
I learned to increase my patience. I didn’t want to be the Mom that got frustrated easily. I didn’t want to be the Mom that was yelling. I was that Mom, and I hated it. I learned that exercise, eating right and taking care of me, by getting enough sleep weren’t just suggestions for a healthy life – they were suggestions to maintain my patience, and make me a better parent, able to live in the moment.
I identified my triggers for stress + worry. Stress, worry about the future, about finances, were we putting enough away for the kids? Did I remember to pay all of the bills? Should we be saving more? Should I be working more to earn money? Should I go back to work and put the kids in childcare? Keeping on track, organized, and on budget helped to alleviate one of the major triggers that caused me to live out of the moment.
The second trigger for me was the state of the house – keeping it organized means keeping the clutter at bay, purging often and ensuring that everything in the house has a place to ‘live’. Regular upkeep on the organization and cleaning of the house, including keeping a cleaning schedule, and not being afraid to get help with a ‘big clean’ every so often reduced the stress.
Thirdly, I identified a trigger as having too much on plate. Saying ‘yes’ to often, leaving me working on the Laptop, ‘playing’ with the girls instead of living in the moment and ‘really playing’. Scheduling daily working time – and maintaining an orderly, and effective to-do list, helped to cut down on the stress of ‘work-related’ triggers, or feeling as if I’m drowning because I’m too far behind. I went from having 20-30 items on my to do list daily, to having 20 at one time, urgent moved to the top of my digital to do list, organized on the desk top of my computer. The list maxes out at twenty, I check it (and my schedule) before taking on more tasks.
Keeping control of my stress triggers helped to control my patience, helped me to control my worry – and gave me the tools to be able to live in the moment.
I ditched the tech. It can be tempting to let the kids watch a a couple of hours of television while you ‘get some stuff done’ around the house. I’m not saying they don’t do it – but they do it less often since we ditched the cable. Then, I started turning the ringer and notifications off of my phone, deleting the social media apps, and having set ’email checking’ times of the day.
I set a timer. Sometimes, you’ve just had enough of playing grocery store, right? Five minutes can seem like an eternity and you’re just not sure if you can handle another Little People Marathon on the living room floor. We use timers for the kids when it comes time to go to bed, or get ready to leave what they’re doing, so while you’re getting into the habit of living in the moment, or playing, why not set a timer for yourself? Start with ten minutes. Ten minutes of uninterrupted play time, of story time, of something – where you are fully and completely paying attention to the moment you’re in.
I Find Joy. Find joy in the moments where you think you’re drowning. Look on the bright sound. It sounds cliché, but look at everything that you have. Finding joy in the moments instead of looking on the negative side can change the way that you feel, creating a sense of graciousness – and really makes you pay attention to what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.
I Got Enough Sleep. If you’re a parent and you’re trying to be present, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting enough sleep. As night people, we have been known to stay up late to enjoy our kid-free evenings – upwards of 1am. One of the most important things I’ve done for myself, and for the kids, is getting to bed at 11pm, and getting enough sleep.
I Involve the kids in what you I am doing. It’s much easier to talk when you’re both involved in something. Even in Kindergarten, I’ve begun to get answers like ‘fine’ and ‘nothing’ when asked about her day, until she’s ready to talk (usually while we’re doing something else). Involving the kids allows you to focus on something, together, maintaining presence in that moment.
I Think About Saturdays. There are 52 Saturdays in a year. As I write this, there are only seven Saturdays until Christmas. Thinking in terms of Saturdays makes you appreciate those everyday moments. It makes things like fun family dinners even more important – and finding special moments that we can all live together.
I Host Dance Parties. In the living room. For the three of us, when the stress levels get high, when the energy gets crazy or when the kids just need a quick pick me up. We turn it to some spin class mix and DANCE. It brings us back, it lets me know that everything important is in those hands that are holding mine and moving to the music and gives me the ‘love glow’ when I see those dance-party smiles.