Spend the limited time you have with your little ones well. When you feel rushed, stop and ask yourself if hurrying right now is absolutely necessary. I know this has been said before, but it is always good to hear again.
The other day we were leaving play group and Boogie wanted to walk up and down some steps. “C’mon. We don’t have time for that! Let’s go!” Mom was going to be home in a while and I wanted to get home to clean up a little before she got there. Boogie looked at me and kept on climbing. I stopped. Did I really have anywhere to be? No. I put things in the car and then joined her. She spent 5 minutes on this and was ready to go. (We need to come up with some time conversion like we have with dogs and their 7 years to our 1 year thing. I will go with 10 minutes in kid world is like 1 hour in ours.) I told Mom that I spent time with Boogie doing her thing instead of cleaning up. Interaction with our child wins, an should win, every time.
Another example: this morning we made bread. Someone wanted to play with toothpicks. All good, we moved them from one box to another taking up an hour (in toddler minutes). We were getting ready for a play date, but the same someone wanted to make toothpick bread. Why not? We really have nowhere to go. Any stress about leaving the house is created by me alone. We were done with that and then on our way. If it is a situation where being late is rude? We have cell phones now. Send a text to keep your folks informed but don’t get stressed about it.
Of course there are times you do need to be somewhere: doctor’s appointments, the bank is closing, the post office is closing. For the most part, however, your need to be somewhere is manufactured. This is the thinking behind Slow Parenting, or the practice of scheduling less and having free time more.
A few tips:
- Live the slow life. Schedule less. If you still want to have scheduled events have fewer of them. Or, schedule free time.
- If the scheduled event is a loose playgroup or other social engagement you can take it easy. Everyone knows what it is like. Don’t create your own stress around these meet up times. If you show up at the end, folks will be like “Hey good to see you!” If you miss completely everyone will all be meeting up next week. If someone chides you for being late you should leave and never come back. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
- If you absolutely have to be somewhere, and you know that ahead of time, factor in 10 minutes of free space before the event. Give your little one some decision in play before you take the lead with your decision to go do this urgent task.
Time is your currency as a parent. Spend it well. Don’t choose the stress. Stop and assess how urgent your need is. If you don’t have to be somewhere indulge your kids and go with the flow. They will be onto the next thing soon enough (about 10 minutes in our world).