Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Over this past year, without realizing it, I entered into a place of stillness.
Not some peaceful sort of zen-like existence. In fact, my life looks like quite the opposite. I have a 1, 3 & a 5 year old. So you can imagine what my house looks and sounds like most days. The type of stillness I’m referring to involves slowing my pace, saying no to invitations, and hard-core lowering my expectations of myself and how much I should accomplish in any given day.
Throughout my lifetime, it has always been my norm to constantly be on the go, filling up every second of my day. I have always felt like unless my mind was consistently occupied and entertained, then I just might die of boredom. And being bored is like my all time worst nightmare. I will do anything to avoid being bored, which has usually led to filling up my day with even more more activities.
However, the good Lord does have a sense of humor. You know what will really throw a wrench in always being on the go?
With one kid, I could still run around town a decent amount. My daughter is my little mini-me, and has always loved perusing around stores and as an infant was happy as a clam strapped to my chest in the ergo carrier. We would run all necessary errands, go on countless play dates, hit up all the local parks, the mall and story times. I also worked a full-time job from home during this time. Once I had a second, it became trickier, but I figured it out. My full-time job did drop to part time, however. But once we added a third….let’s just say my game was thrown way off. Being ‘on the go’ with my three kids turned into a full on traveling three ring circus. And trying to work with them home? Forget it.
One time I actually tried to carry on a phone conference while my son stood in the bathroom and peed on the floor. The actual floor. “Oh I’m sorry I actually have to mute myself now because my son is splashing in his own urine and I should probably clean that up before it’s tracked all over my house.” It was a joke.
I got to a point, near the end of last year, where I realized I was trying to fit way too much in. Then, I heard a statement that really stuck with me: “If it’s going to end in yelling, just say no.”
It sounds so simple and obvious, but it smacked me square in the face. How many times had I forced my children to be on the go, even if it was trying to do something special and fun for them, but put too much on all of our plates and it end in a total disaster? Way too many times. Although my intentions were good, I realized that I was actually robbing myself and my children of good quality time with each other. We weren't truly connecting, because I wasn't creating space for that. I recognized that change needed to happen.
This was the beginning of my place of stillness. It entailed making a conscious decision to slow down. To be okay with being at home more often than not. I also did something totally insane and deleted social media for all of 2019. Honestly, it was only hard for like two weeks. Like breaking a bad habit. Now I am totally used to my new norm. The thing was though, I knew that if I was going to make a conscious decision to be more present with my family and truly connect with my children, I needed to completely eliminate my number one distraction. And for me, in addition to trying to do 243 things per day, that included scrolling on countless news feeds. I know that may be extreme for some of you, and maybe that isn’t one of your biggest distractions.
But what is?
Maybe you don't need to eliminate it all together. But, what if you started saying no more? You’ve heard it a thousand times: when you say yes to one thing, you say no to another thing.
Are you saying yes to the most important thing? Or are you saying no, because you are too busy saying yes to the things that in the end, don’t really matter?
The people around us can tell when we are distracted. They can tell when we are physically there, but mentally we are off in la-la land. Our children, in particular, just long for connection with us. They want eye contact. They want us to get down on their level, to notice them, to make them feel special. But how can we do that unless we make time for stillness? Unless we eliminate some of the distraction in our lives?
Listen, I’m not perfect at this. In fact, even though I’ve eliminated what used to be my number one distraction, I’ve found that new distractions have popped up. If I’m not on guard, I will quickly revert to that old place of trying to fill my mind up at all times. It takes a continuous, conscious effort to be still.
But it is so worth it.