By Michelle Little
I feel like I should be doing more for my children.
Have you ever thought that? It seems to be the hot question of the moment and I feel like all my friends are asking themselves this question too. It doesn’t matter if they are working, staying at home, working part time or whatever their situation. They always feel like they can and should do more. And I do too.
My friends are by and large busy people. They take their kids on activities, restrict TV time and cook their food from scratch. They play with them in the park, go swimming with them and go on play dates. Try and arrange a dinner with these people. You better look at your calendar months ahead.
So why do these women, because let’s face it, it’s usually women thinking this, feel this way? Why do we always feel this guilt that we should be doing more, contributing more or somehow trying to be a better parent?
Why do I feel this way? I’m a busy mom with two kids. I try my best to make healthy meals, play with them and generally enrich their lives. Why do I always feel like I have to be doing more?
Perhaps it stems from being a teenager and being seen as uncool if I didn’t have any plans for a Saturday night. Maybe it’s today’s digital age where everyone around us seems to be having a blast all the time. What I know for sure is that society today is caught up with the latest, the greatest and always being on the go. Lazing around not only makes me feel guilty (I could be meal planning! Baking bread! Reading Japanese to my kids!), it also makes me feel that I am missing out on some great adventure. So I hop on the treadmill of life and fill my days. I also run myself ragged and stress myself out. It makes me wonder if there’s a better way.
A friend of mine recently said that she make sure she has downtime everyday for her kids. I was surprised. I always thought of downtime as that time in between activities and not as the activity. Her approach offered a completely different mindset.
I thought about it for a while and realized all the benefits this slow time could offer. This is time to recharge and refresh. It is when our children can come up with new ideas and stretch their imagination. Boredom can be productive time.
And I realized that not everything has to be instantly gratifying. Not every day has to be scheduled. That slow time can be used to come up with ideas, explore, and create.
I am working on my downtime little bits at a time. I love to sit back and watch my youngest son crawl around, often without him noticing me. I love the way he makes little noises as he pushes a truck or raises both hands in the air when he’s excited.
And I love seeing my oldest come up with imaginative stories and ideas that are usually pretty hilarious. Although a day spent doing activities like swimming or running around the park with friends is full of fun, it doesn’t offer the same quiet time for reflection.
And me? I’m trying to enjoy just being. I’m still busy and that’s inevitable. But I am learning to take snippets of time for myself to just sit and recharge even if it’s a couple minutes here and there. It’s a little gift I give to myself. I take a little breath, refocus and reflect.
Michelle Little is the blogger behind Montreal-based blog Roasted . Originally from the prairies, she lived all over the world before settling in Montreal. She loves adventure, cake and pretty paper goods.