I have a sneaking suspicion.
I suspect that if each of us thought back to the advice we received while pregnant, one of the top ten most-received tidbits would be, “Enjoy the moment.”
What No One Tells You
However, the problem is, while family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers are quick to offer this bit of advice, no one tells you how to do that.
No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your newborn has day/night confusion and you are running on less than three hours of sleep.
No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your potty-training toddler has his or her fifth accident that day and you’re up to your elbows in poop, laundry, and Clorox wipes.
No one tells you how to “enjoy the moment” when your patience (and nerves) are shot from dealing with a contrary toddler that just.won’t.listen.
Forget about enjoying the moment, we are just trying to survive it.
That’s where I found myself recently. Then, while having breakfast with the boys, I looked out the window and saw the school bus pass by. Inexplicably, my heart leapt. I could feel a swelling deep in my gut.
These sweet, albeit chaotic, mornings with my two boys are numbered. All too soon they won’t want to sit down and tell me about the dragons they slayed in their dreams over toast. They may not laugh at the silly faces I make, or ask me ten times to do the robot voice that makes them laugh so hard they get the hiccups.
Then that advice came echoing back, “Enjoy the moment.”
Sitting at the table that morning, I resolved not to squander these moments. However, then I had to come up with a game plan to actually follow the advice I had been given.
Learn How to Live in the Moment
I am a chronic futurist. Part of that is being an attorney and part of that is being a mom. We are trained to be forward-thinking. We are trained to not only assess what may come next, but plan for it. We are trained to be one step ahead. These are all good things. However, like all good things, if left unchecked they can be detrimental.
I noticed myself trying to fast-forward — both each day and to certain milestones. Too often, I tried to just make it to nap time, or make it to mealtime, or bedtime. I’d also find myself getting frustrated and thinking, “Gosh, I can’t wait until he can hold his own bottle,” or “I can’t wait until he is old enough to play by himself for a bit.” This type of thinking prevents us from being present. It robs us of the joy and beauty each moment can bring.
To actually enjoy every moment, I first had to mentally stop trying to hit “next.” I had to slow down and let myself live in the moment.
Part of the reason I was trying to fast-forward, was because most of our time was completely unstructured. Meal times, nap times, and bedtime were the few times with a fixed purpose. Therefore, the rest of the day I would constantly be thinking, “What are we going to do next?” Or I’d find myself getting frustrated when I’d try to tackle my hope-to-do list here and there throughout the day.
Nothing was getting done and I wasn’t present for my boys like I wanted to be. I wasn’t happy and neither were they.
Give Each Moment Purpose
I decided to wake up a half an hour earlier to have a cup of coffee by myself and make a game plan for the day.
I don’t make a schedule. I don’t have our time and/or activities strictly allocated. Instead, I first look at our calendar and hope-to-dos for the day. Then I make a simple outline of our day and jot down the purpose of each chunk of time. I think the phrase “organized chaos” captures it nicely.
For example, we carve out time for activities geared to each boy. This way they don’t feel like they have to vie for attention. We carve out time for chores/work after breakfast so the boys don’t see me randomly leaving the room or at my computer and feel ignored. We carve out time to read. We carve out time to explore, build, learn, and create. We carve out time to be outside and just play. And like any good game plan, there has to be flex room for those days that just don’t go as planned.
This purpose-driven blueprint has been a game changer. Not all of our days are perfect. But overall, this allows me to stop fretting about what we’re going to do next. It allows me to get more done for both myself and our family, and be present. This has given me the space to learn how to actually enjoy the moment.
So whether it is on the weekends or for your day-to-day, I have found there is a lot of freedom in figuring out your family’s purpose for your time together.
How do you do it?
What was the advice you were most given while pregnant or as a new mom? Have you heeded it?