“Slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make this moment last.” Simon and Garfunkel, Feeling Groovy. After a very special celebration that took months and months of busy preparation, a good friend of mine complained, “I can’t believe it is over so fast! How do I make time stand still so I can enjoy these important moments?” I can’t make time stand still, but I do think that the key to making those moments last is to slow down.
In our modern world, we often equate being busy with being important. If our days are not loaded with constant demands on our time, then we feel we are doing something wrong. There is a subtle, unspoken pride, a bragging right, in discussing how incredibly busy we are. We often pack our days and our children’s days with activities, meetings, playdates, after school clubs, tutoring, sports, dinner plans, book clubs, and more. No time to relax, take a walk, or even talk to each other without being distracted by doing at least one other activity (or more). We try to jam as much as we can into our daily lives to live a fuller, more meaningful life. But what if we have it all wrong? What if the most meaningful moments, the connections, the important stuff is found in those quiet moments, the ones we don’t schedule into our day, the ones that we too often don’t have time for?
I think that the best way to slow down time is to simply slow down. Clear your busy schedule a bit. Are you or your children really benefiting from so much activity? We want to have balanced, joyful, well-adjusted children, yet we don’t give them time to be balanced, joyful or well-adjusted. We want to be calm, peaceful parents, but we are too busy to be calm or peaceful.
Ask your children what their favorite memories are and they will often mention some little, quiet moment they had that meant the most to them, not the jam packed days filled with endless activities, not the days spent rushing around. Ask yourself the same question. What are your most precious moments? A recent, treasured moment for me was a hike in the woods that I took with my husband and children. We enjoyed being outside in nature, talking and listening, and not rushing to go anywhere – just finding great pleasure in being where we were.
So, turn off your TVs, cell phones, video games and MP3 players. Cancel some of those after school activities and meetings. Make time in your schedule for more time to just be – no plans, nowhere to go. Instead, go for a walk, read a book, tell your children a story or listen to theirs. Even in the midst of a hectic, busy day or a special, joyful occasion, take the time to be present in the moment. Don’t think about what was or what is to come next. In fact, don’t think at all. Just feel the energy of right now in your whole body. Take a pause, a breath, a moment or two. Slow down and make those moments last. Those will be the moments that will mean the most.