4 Simple reminders to turn the DAILY MUNDANE into the DAILY EXTRAORDINARY.
I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t struggle with my Instagram and Facebook relationship... Constantly checking to see if I have one more ‘like’ or ‘comment.' Feeling validated because you know, this perfectly constructed image that I just posted (with the most age-affective filter), exudes my perfect life. Well, my ‘perfect life’ that I want people to believe I have anyway.
My mind keeps on taking me back to a time when I traveled the world all by myself at the tender age of 18 (circa 2001). This was a time when there was no social media, no iPhones for that matter, and I had to check into the local Internet cafe once a week to send an email to my parents to tell them that I was still alive and well. I had a certain confidence that comes from a kid who doesn’t know too much. Naivety if you will. But it was a beautiful kind of naivety. I was confident in the person who I was, with all my flaws. I dressed in what fit me well, not in the ever-changing fashion. I had to rely on the goodness of others to help me navigate traveling around the world, and I was more open to accepting interaction with others. I paved the way to the road less traveled. It was my journey, all mine, and not one part of my self wanted someone else’s life.
But then social media came along, and everything now feels a little askew. A little off-kilter. I began to compare my life to others. Insecurities crept in, and a desire to be validated by ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ became important. I’ve noticed that this feeling has overflown into my friendships, relationships, and the way I embrace motherhood.
When I reflect on the travels of the carefree 18 yr old girl that I was, the one thing stands out the most to me was that each day was relished and enjoyed because I was 100% ALL IN PRESENT. I didn’t care one bit about what the rest of the world thought about me… And MUMMA, I’m fighting to bring that carefree blissful contentment back into my life as a mother, wife, friend, woman, and so can YOU!
Here are a few simple reminders to keep you engaged and present with your children, that will turn what seems like the daily mundane into something extraordinary.
MARIA KONDO your mind and get rid of the clutter.
To do lists, laundry lists, got to get back to the email lists, school PTA lists, grocery lists, lists, lists, lists… All these lists filling up our mind space and it’s time to simplify. Have you ever found yourself playing with your kids, interacting with them, but your mind is actually off somewhere else? I remember a time when my then 3yr old daughter was drawing on the wall with a crayon. I was cooking, but also daydreaming, and she said to me, “Mommy look at me, I am drawing on the walls.” I replied, “That’s nice dear,” and went back to my daydreaming. She actually told me THREE MORE TIMES before I stopped what I was doing and said, “YOU’RE WHAT? You’re drawing on the walls!” You can be physically present, but not mentally.
Every morning I make a list of all my 'TO-DO’s' that need to be tackled for the day. Writing them down gets them out of my head and free’s up space to concentrate on what is before me. When I get a little downtime during the day I can usually knock off most of my list with less effort than trying to get them done while being distracted by my little people. I’ve also found that waking up 30 mins before my kiddos, carves out some valuable time to bust out my to-do list before the day gets ahead of me.
Recap: Write out your to-do list. Keep a note pad close by; adding to it as tasks pop into your mind. This will free up mental clutter and allow you to concentrate on being in the moment. Be sure to schedule a little time in your day where you can knock off items on your list.
PUT THE PHONE DOWN.
I know, I know… this isn’t groundbreaking news. But it is easier said than done. I try to do all my iPhone ‘work,’ ie emails, social media checking, googling, etc, when my children are at school, or not around. Leave the phone in the car when you go places, and give yourself a fighting chance to engage with your children without the distraction of the iPhone. I promise you that you have enough photos on your phone of your children to be without your camera for this outing. Show your children that they are the most important thing in the room… not the iPhone.
Recap: Put your phone down. Leave it in the car. Give yourself technology free time just as you would give your kids. This allows you to focus on your life, rather than the life of others!
PRETEND PLAY WITH THEM.
Yes really, play with them. This is something I personally find really hard to do. But, without a doubt, every single time I spend 20 minutes playing with my children, they are elated and so am I. This means to take time to leave the mental clutter and the to-do list at the door, and getting down to your child's level, allowing them to create a magical Never-World that they can master. Playtime will give you a glimpse into your child’s world, and through this, you will learn to communicate more effectively with your child. Which then provides you with the perfect setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics; Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears… When parents observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world from their child’s vantage point as the child navigates a world perfectly created just to fit his or her needs. The interactions that occur through play tell children that parents are fully paying attention to them and help to build enduring relationships. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182
Recap: Carve out time to PLAY with your children. No iPhones, no mental clutter, just you and the kids. Soon you will be seeing the world in the same magical lens that your children see it in!
TALK TO THEM.
When was the last time you had a REAL back and forth conversation with your child? Sometimes I find that my life gets so busy racing from one place to the next that I forget to talk to my kids. Sure, I tell them what to do, they tell me what they want, I diffuse arguments, and I referee their day-to-day tasks from the sidelines. However, before I know it a few days have past and I haven’t had a real back and forth conversation with my kids.
Researchers from MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania found that the best thing a parent can do for their children is to have frequent back and forth conversations. The findings suggest that doing this from an early age with help foster and develop one of the most important life skills: COMMUNICATION. Furthermore, a number of studies show that good communication skills can attribute to high self-esteem, longer marriages, healthier relationships and over-all better quality in life. Not to mention, that talking to your kids can be downright funny at times - so it benefits your quality of life too!
Recap: Try to implement daily conversation time with your children. We usually do this at the dinner table or at bedtime. We talk about each others day, we ask our kids what their most memorable part of the day was, and what they didn’t like so much. Kids a funny, the back and forth banter has me and my husband in stitches every time!
Mumma, at the end of the day you are ALL that your child needs. I know that the days can be long, the challenges are always different and the celebrations are ever changing. Somedays you will be up to your eyeballs with your workload, to-do lists and all you can do is feed your kids cereal for dinner and put them in front of the TV to get your ever-growing list done, and that is ok too.
But I will tell you, that when I implement daily slivers of 100 % PRESENT MOMENTS, my little moments with my kids become something extraordinary. THE DAILY MUNDANE BECOMES A BEAUTIFUL LIFE.