Our lives are busy, messy, and rushed at times. It seems that we are constantly in need of more time. We’ve improved things some by implementing a pretty solid schedule. I discuss the importance of a schedule for our own family in How Scheduling Saved our Family. Still, even with the awareness that we need to slow down, it’s often easier to just keep going. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing more, and it’s easy to miss the little things and the big things that make our daily lives important and meaningful.
Being present with my family and other people in my life takes more than a solid schedule, and it takes more than being physically there. Like anyone else, sometimes I do great at being mindfully present. Other times, I really struggle. In fact, as a notorious multitasker, I can honestly be pretty terrible at it.
Our six-year old, however, has no trouble at all being mindfully present in every situation, and she is keenly aware of what it means to live in the moment. It’s hard for her to stop what she is doing and move on to another activity. Everything she does is important and deserves her whole attention. She can’t be bothered with a schedule or other responsibilities while she is focused. And let’s be honest: she is six, so she doesn’t have those worries, and she shouldn’t.
As adults with responsibilities, somewhere along the way, most of us forget how important it is to truly be present in those moments. We are so busy, that we forget to really enjoy the moment without worrying about anything else. I am not saying that we should be irresponsible and forsake our responsibilities, but I do think that we should take the time to slow down. That means taking an extra moment to really relish in what you are doing. Focusing and being in the moment is one of the best things that we can do for our own mental health and that of our families.
Personally, I stopped wearing a watch a few years ago, because I noticed that instead of helping me to manage my time, it served as a daily distraction instead. I would check it constantly, and it kept me from enjoying my day and living in the moment. Lately, I’ve been thinking about other factor and behaviors that are current distractions in my life, and I’m making a conscious effort to reduce or eliminate them in this next week. Here’s my plan:
Multitasking is a hard one for me to give up. I always end up working on multiple things at once, even when I don’t intend to. Research shows that multitasking is actually not very effective, and that it is really just task switching. Nobody can really do two things at one time. Multitasking is said to slow us down, add to our stress levels, contribute to mistakes, and harm our relationships. It honestly doesn’t allow me to be as mindfully present as I want to be. I think that’s more than enough reasoning for me to give up multitasking for at least a week.
Reduce Use of Electronics (Unplug)
I have written about taking a social media break before, and I think that it’s just as important to take a technology break. In my experience, I always feel refreshed, and am more present when technology isn’t in the picture. While it’s not feasible to cut technology completely out of my life, I can definitely live, mostly, without it for a week. We don’t watch much television in our house, and we actually take frequent breaks from screen time. It’s also pretty easy to make sure that my phone is not within arms reach as long as I maintain conscious awareness of these goals.
Increase Play Time
Play time is absolutely essential for children. Playing is one of the main ways that kids learn and develop. As adults, we also need time to slow down, be creative, and play. It makes sense, when you think about it. We learn more and complete tasks better when we’re having fun. Incorporating more fun activities in your weekly schedule makes it easier to be more focused from day to day. During the summer, we get to slow down a little bit more, when we usually have fewer activities and responsibilities. This means that this goal is easier to achieve during the summer. The real trick is keeping it up throughout the year. Put your creativity to work through the busier months so you can continue to schedule weekly time for fun.
Being mindful and present is important, and it takes effort. The huge benefit of being able to be more present with my family, and in my life in general, makes the effort worth making. Will you join me in making a mindful change for yourself and for the sake of your family? You’re not the only one who will be glad you did.