In just a few months, Ayva is going to be finishing up preschool and starting kindergarten. Every time I think about that, my heart starts pounding, I start sweating, and it feels like I’m going to faint. What happened to my baby? She’s already started to make friends who take top billing over me during playdates. What if she goes off to elementary school and forgets all about her poor Mama? Of course, I’m exaggerating (kind of), but I’m sure with Ayva going to school all day, things are going to change around here a bit. We won’t be able to run and get ice cream on a whim in the middle of the day, or bake muffins on a random Tuesday morning. No more declaring rainy days “lazy days” and lounging around the house in our jammies and watching movies. Things are going to be way different.
That’s why it occurred to me awhile ago that I need to slow down and make sure I’m really savoring and enjoying this part of the journey. We’ll never get these awesome preschool years back again. And this time period is pretty darn awesome. I mean, I get to hang out with the most fun and amazing little girl. She reminds me to stop and smell the roses. Or watch the roly poly crawl under a leaf. Or take a closer look at that piece of lint that looks like an ant.
Slowing down can be challenging. Trust me, I know. As much as I enjoy smelling the roses with my sweet 4-year-old, sometimes, I’m just too busy. While she’s taking in the world around her, I’m often rushing her in and out of the car, up and down the stairs, back and forth to school. Asking her, begging her, to please not dawdle. A few months ago, I vowed to be more patient in daily situations. I’ve been working on it, and it’s getting better. With the approach of kindergarten, I’m making an effort to be even more patient in order to enjoy motherhood. Here are 5 ways that I’ve learned to slow down.
1. Leave the phone at home.
Something about my cellphone makes it hard for me to relax. Ayva and I can be out having a great time, and I’ll get an alert for a work email, and all of a sudden, I’m distracted. Often, when we take walks, or run errands together, I leave my phone at home or in the car so that I can focus my attention on my baby girl.
2. Schedule slow down time.
Because I work from home, there’s not really a separation between my personal time and work time. It took me a little while, but I finally learned to schedule slow down time. I don’t mean the boundaries that all working moms should have (for example, don’t expect me to answer emails on the weekend). I’m talking about time to sit down and have lunch with your child without being interrupted with a telephone call, or a 15 minute break where you get on the floor and complete a puzzle. Schedule the time and stick to it.
3. Leave time for dawdling.
Four year olds work on their own schedule. Instead of leaving with just enough time to get to where you go, leave a little earlier. If you arrive at your destination with a little time to spare, pull out a book and read to your child, or ask them a few questions and have a conversation. I know it doesn’t make me feel good to rush Ayva from here to there, and I’m sure she doesn’t like that feeling either.
4. Be intentional about having patience and enjoying motherhood.
I’m a big believer in the power of intention. When you say to yourself, “I am going to be patient in this situation”, or “I’m going to relish in being in my child’s presence”, it really has amazing results. Not only that, but the experience of being patient and being a mom has more weight and you’ll feel a shift happen that makes patience become second nature. I’m still working on this, but I notice a big difference in my overall attitude when I acknowledge my calmness and patience.
5. Say yes to less.
Instead of cramming your schedule full with appointments and activities, just chill. Last year, Ayva had ballet, gymnastics and Bible class. I was exhausted all of the time from running her from here to there, trying to get to all of our commitments on time. Pick one or two activities that are at a time when you don’t have to rush. Then, when you get there, leave the phone in the car and focus on your child in their activity (if you’re allowed), or relax and take a little me time.
Please tell me I’m not alone. Do you have to work at having patience and slowing down to enjoy your children?