Guest Author - Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, M.D, F.A.A.P
“Stop the World, I want to Get Off!” I remember seeing that play years and years ago at summer camp. That phrase runs through my mind a lot lately as the pace of things seems to speed up more and more. I recently got one of those “smart phones” – phone, email, camera gadget. It’s really cool and can connect me anywhere any time to anyone. But, do I really want to be that accessible? On the one hand – yes and on the other: NO WAY! Sometimes not being reachable is a good thing.
We all know the drill: carpools, jobs, housework, shopping. Add to that “extras” like doctors appointments and after school activities and evening meetings and it’s no wonder most of us freeze completely when our Palm Pilots hiccup and erase our schedules.
Well, we can’t stop the entire world but we sure can slow down our own worlds. Perhaps if we focus on our immediate worlds – our kids, our family, our neighborhoods, our communities, life will once again seem in control and manageable. As part of my quest of sanity each New Year, I think a lot about the little things I can do at home to stop the clock and really let my kids know we are there. One revelation I always make is that I have to keep my needs in eye’s sight as well as my family’s needs. Putting our kids first always may be what is much of the craziness.
So, there are two things we need to do: learn to just “be” with ourselves and learn to just “be” with our kids. I’d suggest that at least one to two times a day you find a way to have no way of being reached – and just “be”. Zone out to music like when you were a teenager. Blast the radio in the car or shower and sing your heart out. Read a good romantic novel or mystery – nothing too “literary”, just fun! Just sit in your kitchen and look out the window – no TV’s or radio or cells or beepers.You don’t need to do this for long – even 10-15 minutes a day will help.
Here are some things you can do to just “be” with your kid:
1. family game night
2. plan a picnic in the family room on a rainy day
3. bake cookies
4. make cards for relatives
5. read a book, but on the same couch cuddling
6. watch a favorite movie together
7. cuddle while eating breakfast
8. play a game of cards
9. cancel a lunch date to be with your child
10. say “no” to an extra volunteer thing to just be home
11. run errands tomorrow
12. dance with your child
13. run and around and just be silly
You know what is really cool? When your kids see you having fun and learn that fun is an important part of life! But, that takes practice and our kids lives are so hectic that they need cues to how to unwind with precious little time.
So, this week pick one stressful thing to give up and one new calm thing to try. Make this a family project and see where you are in the next week. I promise you won’t be disappointed.