Rush, rush, rush. Accomplish, accomplish, accomplish. Drop here, pick up there. Life can get so busy. But we know from our yoga practice how essential and transforming it can be to slow things down. How can we bring this lesson off the mat and into our parenting lives? How can we find that just being together time with our children, whether they are babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age or teenagers?
Here are some ways I’ve found to take five:
Mornings I am not a morning person. Well, I am the sort of morning person who wants (in my morning fantasyland) quiet, a homemade latte, a few minutes of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and then a few hours of undisturbed work time. Neil takes Lucien to school and I do the pick up, so theoretically the weekday morning hours are “mine” for freelance work unless Neil is traveling. But this is not exactly my five year old’s plan. Lucky for me, really, every morning Lucien climbs into bed with me for a long, delectable snuggle while Neil showers and gets dressed. We kiss and hug and tickle and discuss the previous night’s dreams and have a contest about who loves the other more. (Lucien says he loves me more than I love him. I say “not possible” because I love him infinity times infinity, and Lucien giggles with delight.) I’m so glad to have Lucien remind me that connecting is the best way to start the day.
Afterschool Whether you are picking your child up from the babysitter or basketball practice, there’s nothing like coming together after not having seen one another for a few hours. Lucien and I have our routine: a big hug, a snack, a “tell-me-everything” conversation on the bench outside his kindergarten classroom. We’re usually the last ones out the door, but that’s OK. It’s nice not to rush.
On the Mat When I manage to pull out my mat and yoga props on the evenings or weekends, I notice two household members who are immediately interested in joining me: my dog Salem, and Lucien. When I’m tucked into a restorative pose and these little whirling beings start climbing all over me I try to take a minute to savor that sensation, too, rather than just be annoyed by my “interrupted” practice. Sometimes I can even turn a “Mommy, come play with me” into a family yoga session.
In the Kitchen Sure, it’s faster to just make dinner yourself. But having a child sous chef as your meal preparation partner is so much more fun. At age 5, Lucien can help make his own omelet or sandwich or even help with a stir fry. Working on dinner together can help turn a stressful time (Think “Mommy, I’m hungry!”) into something slower and more process oriented.
At Bedtime I know there are vast numbers of children who put themselves to sleep at night. Mine is not one of them! Lucien wants his story and his snack, and he also wants to be cuddled in bed until sleep comes. And sleep can take some time to come. Usually, Neil is the one to take on this job and, as much as we occasionally complain about the long drawn out bedtime process, it seems like Neil and Lucien both benefit from the quiet, hushed time together. Recently, when I knew Neil was going away for a few nights I found myself dreading bedtime. For days before! And then I decide to let it go. To surrender. It would take as long as it would take. Why hadn’t I remembered how peaceful, how warm, how silent, how beautiful it is to help another being slide into sleep? We read some poems by A.A. Milne. (Now We are Six.) Curled up by one another, me gently reassuring and occasionally “shushing” Lucien until many, many, breaths later, I finally heard the blessed slow smooth snoozy sounds of sleep. Again, it was motherhood and my son who reminded me to slow down, to ease up, to take five. (Or 50.)
How and when do you take five?
Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse) out in paperback now. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.