He used to watch Thomas cartoons. Now he watches Jeopardy.
He used to read road signs. Now he guesses Wheel of Fortune puzzles.
He used to fall asleep on my chest. Now he reaches out one arm for a hug.
What do you do when you feel life is passing faster than you can handle? When the days are somehow escaping you?
Last year I had a delightfully ambitious plan for May: grade my final papers quickly and write like heck until Henry was out of school. By the time Henry finished kindergarten, I would have thousands of words written!
I volunteered to proctor end-of-grade tests. I volunteered on field day. I had lunch with friends. I took too long to grade my papers. I spent a weekend with a friend on the west coast. (Best decision of the month, by the way.) I blinked and May was over.
I know you have felt the same way at some point. Summer, fall, Advent, Lent… your child’s babyhood or maybe even his teen years… these are seasons we want to savor, but before we know it they are gone.
What do we do?
We awake to the moment. We live fully present.
But I see your eye roll. I hear you grumbling, Meredith, what does that MEAN?
In short, we’re intentional. We slow down.
In an age when people use time-saving apps only to fill their calendars with more activity, how do we slow down?
If we do find our proper balance of activities, how do we then shift our mindset from run to walk, from devour to savor, from endure to enjoy?
You might try one of these ideas.
Leave white space. This year I looked carefully at my May calendar before it began. I did not overcommit. Can you leave some days – or some hours – white?
Pause. Set a timer for every hour (or whatever feels right to you) to take 10 deep breaths. Whisper a short prayer or phrase to center your mind and lessen your heart rate.
Stop multitasking. Countercultural, I know. Perhaps it’s necessary at times, but multitasking should be the exception to the norm. Have you ever driven your car to a destination without any memory of how you got there? Your mind was so busy you didn’t even notice the road! This is exactly how our days become blurs. Doing too many tasks at once is the best way I know to not be present.
Write it down. When your mind seems to be racing, stop and write it down. I keep paper or a small notebook in the kitchen, in my purse, and by my bed. The visual act of “emptying” your cluttered brain does wonders.
Seize unexpected opportunities. One evening last summer, Henry surprised me by joining me on the back porch. We sat side-by-side on the back porch, listening to the rain and the neighbors’ chickens. I didn’t hop up to start dinner or unload the dishwasher. I sat with him. And now it’s one of our favorite evening pastimes.
This May I didn’t do everything perfectly. I made too many runs to the grocery store before our annual cookout. I didn’t shop for teacher gifts as early as I would have liked. But this time, I forgave myself these “transgressions” and moved on. No dwelling. No anxiety. No stress.
Practice imperfect progress.
As Erin Loechner says, “Chasing slow is still a chase.”
Try one of these ideas on for size. Wear it a bit, see how you like it. Doesn’t fit quite right for you? Try another. Find your own way to slow down time.