I travelled from my home in Glasgow last week to see my parents in Northern Ireland. This was the first visit home without my husband or kids for years. Having the opportunity to press pause on our hectic family life for just a couple of days felt like such a precious gift; to spend time actually talking without interruptions, have a quiet conversation with my dad, many hugs with my mum, and a trip down memory lane with my sister while clearing out the attic.
Before I had kids, I thought time was passing quicker every year. For our family, since the arrival of kids it feels like we have been stuck in a whirlwind.
I love my hectic family life with two little boys under four years old. But since I got back from my few days away, I have been focusing on what I can do to slow down time as well as give other people (and myself) the gift of time on a more regular basis.
Below are five ideas that are working for me:
- Notice what is around you
- Chew your food and enjoy every bite
- Do one thing at a time
- Give the gift of time to others
Put your phone away- how long does it take you to pick up your phone when there's a lull in conversation or you find yourself alone? Instead of looking at Facebook, sit still and take five deep breaths - give yourself the chance to look around and be present in the moment.
While you stop and breathe, give yourself a few seconds to take in the nature that is around you (it could even just be the spider crawling up the curtains!) and actually talk to the other people in the room if you are not alone.
I remember my mum constantly telling me to eat more slowly and chew each mouthful 32 times... at the time I thought it was about helping digestion, but maybe she was also making a point to slow down, taste the food and relax. You were right, mum - I have already heard myself repeat this to my own children!
If it's playing with a child, look them in the eye and have a conversation. If it's writing an email or a message - focus on what you actually need to say rather than rushing out the first thing that pops into your head... better yet, try writing a letter again (you'll be amazed how much more you think about it when you can't just press delete!).
One of the nicest things you can do is pay the gift of time forward.
- When was the last time you spent time one-on-one with a good friend? Invite them over for that much needed time to catch up with no one else around.
- Offer to take care of your friend's pet/children/house to allow them the time to visit a loved one.
- A new parent might enjoy a home cooked meal delivered to their door, or if they have older kids already - a little time to spend with their new baby while their older kids are entertained would go down well.
What can you do to give someone the gift of time this week?