Recently, as I was driving my youngest daughter to her tennis lesson, I was alarmed to hear a deep, raspy cough come from her little body. I told her that we needed go to the doctor to get her throat checked. Much to my surprise, she responded, "Mom, we don't have time for that." It was one of those parenting moments that stopped me in my tracks, realizing that the message that I want to teach my children was not coming through loud and clear, but rather being muddled and muddied by my actions, and our busy schedules. The number one stressor of adults and teens today is time -- having too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Children and teens, and not just the adults who care for them, are feeling the stress of overloaded schedules, and the pressure to do so much and to do it all well. Many of my favorite childhood memories are of long, lazy weekends, or afternoons filled with what seemed like endless hours of unstructured, unscheduled playtime. Yet, I often wonder what memories my own children will have of their childhood? Will they remember long, lazy days full of fun and imaginative play or will they remember rushing from one activity to the next?
We are blessed to have so many wonderful opportunities for ourselves and for our children, but the stress and anxiety from being over-scheduled may virtually eliminate the benefits gained from those activities. As Henry David Thoreau put it, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” Perhaps it is a return to the simple things that we enjoyed as children that would have a greater impact on our children's creativity, self esteem and happiness. They grow up too quickly as it is. Perhaps helping them to slow down is the best gift we can give them -- allowing them time to make a mess, time to clean up, time to make mistakes and time to learn from them, time to create and time to imagine.
As the beautiful flowers are blooming outside, I am reminded once again how important it is to literally stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the incredible opportunity of an unplanned afternoon, and to make sure that my children experience the great joys in slowing down, in not feeling rushed, and in taking the time to just be.