Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hurry Up, Slow Down, Smell the Roses

Sarah running around the apple
orchard to catch up with her cousin...
No need to rush!
Rachel Macy Stafford, mother of two, shared her epiphany recently on the overuse of two words in an interview with The Huffington Post. She explained that she used to utter the words "hurry up" regularly to her youngest, free-spirited daughter who took her time doing nearly everything, as she desired each experience to the fullest. These words were conveyed by busy mom Rachel so often that she didn't realize how much and its impact until one day her little one asked innocently if she needed to rush since mommy always asked her too.

As you can imagine Rachel felt crushed.  I then started to think, about "how many times I uttered this or similar phrases to my daughter?"

As busy parents we often burn the wick at both ends doing, obviously, way too much in a day.  As a result, our children many times may suffer the consequences of busy and packed schedules. This is especially likely of families with more than one child.

I saw the headline on Rachel's story when it first came out but chose not to read it at the time. However, it didn't stop me from thinking about it over and over again. I kept thinking do I utter words similar to "Hurry up" to Sarah so often that she will feel stressed by it? I realized that while I don't say "hurry up" I instead say phrases such as, "come on we have to get going" or "are you done yet." They are just as damaging if used too often. However, I noticed that I didn't convey these words all the time. That I did know. Still, I felt a pang of guilt thinking that maybe I am rushing my daughter through life.

With such packed schedules including fun activities, grocery shopping and running necessary errands and, for me, being a full-time working parent, it's easy to get caught up in saying any or all of these aforementioned phrases to our children and forget that they have shorter legs and can't walk as fast, they like to look around and discover and explore, and can easily be distracted thus slowing them down.

We may not see it this way, but uttering any of these phrases can become like an addiction.  It's what we begin to say to nearly every action our kids make. We have also heard of the phase, "stop and smell the roses."  But, because we hear it so often we may tend to block it out and it loses its meaning.

Let's be honest, not every day can be a walk in the park.  Life happens and we have to move with it. And, young kids don't really understand the consequences of being late or missing appointments. However, we can help by applying some strategies to help us better manage time so we don't feel harried and rushed or the need to push our children to move faster.

While there are indeed moments when I let Sarah set the pace, I painfully thought of the many times I held her hand and willed her to walk faster just so we can get onto our next task.

I thought about my times in a public restroom with Sarah either at Target, pharmacy or a restaurant saying to her, "are you done yet" and a recent conversation with my sister recently regarding her own children that I decided to go back and read Rachel's story in it entirety.

Young kids don't really understand the concept of time or how long it takes to do things or to get to places.  So, since life is not slowing down anytime soon it likely would be best to institute some strategies for both parent and child.  Let's be honest, thinking that we can slow down life to "smell the roses" literally and figuratively all the time is not very realistic.  However, we can build in approaches so that we are not asking our kids to rush and help them understand that there is a time for lollygagging and there is a time where a schedule is important to stick to.

So, instead of beating ourselves up, let's consider some of the following approaches to help us to somewhat slow down, or at least give our children time to enjoy life, smell the flowers in between, and take their time when time allows.

After leaving a Target Sarah wanted
to play with the big ball structures,
and I let her.  A few minutes of fun
I could make time for.
1. Establish time for strolling, exploring and discovering
2. Set alarm clock to give kids more time to get ready at their pace
3. Explain concept of time with children and the importance of meeting  schedules and that there is a time and place for taking it all in
4. Make a concerted effort not to say phrases that involve "rushing"
5. Determine if too much is on your daily "to do" list. Can some tasks be removed to allow for more soaking up in between?
6. If doing a task must involve taking the kids along consider ways to keep them occupied (e.g., while sitting in the cart during grocery shopping) so you don't feel rushed and they can enjoy time too

Patience is not something that comes easy for me. However, I am going to make a much more concerted effort to try these ideas. I admit that crazy, hectic, busy me isn't always fun to be around. I am going to do my best to try to slow it down, smell the roses literally and figuratively and not tell Sarah to rush. 

Starting today, I am pledging to try to slow it down, carve out more time for my daughter to process and explore, cut back on too many tasks in one day and be mindful of not using "rush" phrases and be more sensitive in my communication.

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