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Not enough time in the day? Check again!

mindful-tasks

I used to be one of the most organized (read: inflexible) people you’d ever meet. Each and every item on my to-do list needed to be done each day. I’d stay up until all hours to the detriment of romantic relationships and friendships to complete my “responsibilities”. I couldn’t handle a single deviation to my routine. Happy hour after work? Can’t, sorry. I was already planning to go to the gym.

Thank goodness I let go of those neurotic habits out before becoming a mother. Or at least I thought I had.

One day just after I’d returned to work from maternity leave, I was lamenting to my husband about how little time I had to play with my daughter between picking her up from daycare and when she was falling asleep. He pointed out to me, quite diplomatically, that I spent my first 25 minutes in the house freezing my pumped breastmilk from the day, cleaning all the pump parts and bottles, labeling her empty bottles for daycare the next day.. you get the idea.

After I had a (very hormonally charged) meltdown (“Do you know how many hours I spend pumping this milk every day? sob “You think I’m a terrible mother who doesn’t spend time with her baby!” sob) I had a moment of clarity – he was right. The milk needed to be frozen right away, but the pump parts didn’t necessarily have to be cleaned then. The prep of bottles could wait until after she was asleep. 25 minutes may not seem like alot, but at the time there was only an hour between getting her home and the moment she’d begin rubbing her eyes. I realized I had yet again let myself get into a routine so mindless that I didn’t even see the other option. Duh – baby now. Chores later.

I certainly don’t think any parent, whether they work or stay home, should be spending every second engaged with their kids, putting off all tasks until after their bedtime. But if we never question our routines, can we be sure that we are consciously choosing to spend our time in the best way possible?

The mantra I’ve been working with is “Does this really need to be done right now?” Do I remember to ask myself this with each and every evening or weekend chore? Of course not. But I am getting better – and the times I have been able to set something aside and join in I’ve been rewarded a thousand-fold.

Hearing my daughter say “bubbles” for the first time. Watching the sun set over the Colorado mountains from the front steps with my husband. Extra hugs and sloppy kisses.

The first time your pre-teen daughter asks you to drop her off at a different entrance at the mall than the one her friends are at, will you be wishing you’d said yes to at least one more of her childhood tea parties where you were the most important guest? When your teenage son leaves for his first semester of college, will you be wishing you’d actually looked up from your book all the times he yelled “Look at me!” before doing a cannon-ball into the pool?

These are moments of connection we will never get back. Mindful parenting requires that we continually ask ourselves “What’s really important here?”, and these opportunities are the important ones. These are the moments we’ll regret missing, not the times we chose to leave laundry unfolded, or skipped a day of dusting.

I challenge you each day to say “yes” to just 1 thing NOT on your to-do list.

  • Can you start dinner 10 minutes later to enjoy those last bits of sunlight in the yard with your kids?
  • Can you stop at the park on the way home for 5 minutes of surprise time on the swings? (Already thinking you wouldn’t be able to get them to leave? Give them a chance.. )
  • How about having an impromptu dance party? (even if it lasts for only one song!)
  • Is there something your child has been begging you to do with them, but you’ve been too “busy”?

What can you say “yes” to today? Please share in the comments below what you find in those spontaneous moments of mindful connection!

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dinnertime? playtime!
 

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33 thoughts on “Not enough time in the day? Check again!

  1. Kate says:

    Great post – I too had to learn to become organized in a flexible way.  Putting family/friends and yourself first is more important than getting all the things done.  Enjoy that dance party – even if it’s only for one song.

    Reply
  2. Marina says:

    This is so true. Today I’m saying yes to a play date with a friend. We’re picking her up after school and she’s coming over to our house (even if I haven’t finished all my chores this week).

    One tip I’ve found that works well for me when I’m spending time with my kids is to look in their eyes no matter what they’re doing. It helps me to stay focused on them and not think about anything else. I have seen so much wonder in each of my children since I started doing that.

    My most recent post is about how our phones make us feel like there’s not enough time in the day…my biggest struggle right now is social media.

    Reply
  3. Vikki says:

    Wowza…what a beautiful piece…you, your husband and daughter are so fortunate to have experienced this awareness now.  Your life will be much more satisfying…thank you for the reminder to prioritize relationships over checked-off items on my to-do list!

    Reply
  4. Emily says:

    I often find that time at bedtime. My 3.5 year old gets really chatty then. She is stalling :), but we have great conversation!

    Reply
    • Liesl Garner says:

      You know what? This happens to me too, and I just started getting them in bed earlier so we can plan on this chatty time. I don’t want to be too exhausted to listen to their questions and invest in some extra time here. It’s like they think they’re getting away with something by stalling me, but I’m enjoying it!

      Reply
  5. Tom says:

    Well put Grasshopper – you finally get it! – Love, Dad

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      I love you, Daddy! Thanks for reading :]

      Reply
  6. Liesl Garner says:

    Oh wow, this is so good. The whole “Busyness” disorder has us in its grip, right? I have heard a couple times that we need to stop telling ourselves that we are Busy, and instead think of another word, like Full, or Blessed. These are great extras. They are extras because when we stop to do them, suddenly there is time in our day to absorb them, and we feel so much better afterwards, that it’s almost like we’ve been given more time!

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      So true! I’m also working on the “blessedly full” mindset – if we are consciously choosing our schedule, how can we call it busy?? You’re so right about the magic “extra time”. It’s the same thing with meditation, whenever I think there’s no time for it, even if I can only find 5 minutes to sit, I somehow magically feel like my whole day is more spacious!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  7. Maria says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. Routines are great, but it won’t hurt to stray away from them once in a while. Today, I will say yes to leaving our dining room and living room in disarray for an hour or two longer. If that means I get to play hide-and-seek with my daughter for a few minutes more, it’s worth it. Thanks for such a helpful post. I’ll definitely put your mantra in place.

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      This made my whole day! I hope there was hide-and-seek involved, or at least some extra huggles!

      Reply
  8. Louise says:

    Love this! I try to do this – quick park trip on way home; movie night with the girls; dancing before bed. Some weeks I’m more successful than others, but the weeks it works are wonderful! Keep it up!

    Reply
  9. Brandyn says:

    I love this. I have a hard time managing my time…I’m always worried about getting this, that, or the other thing done. I need reminders like this!

    #SHINE hop

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      I used to be a worrier, and one of my favorite quotes that I find helpful when I start to fall back into it is “Worrying is a way to avoid what is so by thinking about what could be” – Judith Lasater, Living Your Yoga

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  10. Bonnie says:

    Sometimes as moms we have to remember to slow down and be more playful.  The list will still be there.  I like to have a list to focus me though.  Great post!  Today I’m going to say yes to an easy dinner so we can go outside after and enjoy the park.  I’m visiting you through the #shinebloghop

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      Yes, I love it!! If you get a chance, take a pic at the park and post in my pinned post on FB: https://www.facebook.com/mostlymindfulmommy. I want to see all these joyful faces having playful moments!

      Welcome, thanks for reading!

      Reply
  11. Karen says:

    Thanks for sharing.  It’s an on going battle juggling everything as there is always ‘something’ that ‘needs’ to be done.

    Reply
  12. Tiffany | A Touch of Grace says:

    It really is amazing what changes once you have little ones.  Glad you are able to be more flexible now.

    Thanks for sharing on the Shine Blog Hop!

    Reply
  13. Joy Morales says:

    Good stuff!  I am guilty of this. One tip I try to use is to incorporate my little one into the things that do really need to be done, like cooking or shopping or laundry.  The rest can wait. I do struggle with it though…work is my #1 offender. I’m a teacher and I have to take it home often and it has taken away from time with her…I hate that and I’m looking to change it.  Baby steps :)

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      That’s a great approach! My daughter is enjoying handing me dirty clothes to put into the washer, or doing it herself. It takes 3x as long, but we both enjoy the time together! Just becoming aware of what you want to change is the biggest, hardest step, so you’re 90% of the way there! :)

      Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      The more the better!!

      Reply
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  15. Melissa Roy says:

    I love the points you make in this post!  I have been struggling with balancing blogging and my children lately.  I am so excited to grow my blog and reach new audiences and share my stories that I sometimes miss out on the little moments with my kids.  I’ve tried to do both simultaneously but have found we all get more out of undivided interactions so have been forcing myself to put down the laptop/iPad/phone and really TAKE IN those moments because I know soon enough, as you’ve pointed out, they will be gone!

    Reply
  16. Evelyn says:

    Wonderful post.  We are often so busy trying to do it all when our children are young that we miss out on the most important thing, being there.  Your children will grow up in the blink of an eye and you will be left with your lists including the list of should have’s.  The dishes can wait.

    Reply
  17. Ntina says:

    You are so right! I hate myself when I sometimes tell my daughter “I’m sorry but I’m busy!” I have pinned this post  too to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      Oh no, don’t hate yourself! Things need to get done, that’s the reality of mommyhood. It’s just increasing our awareness that helps, but be compassionate with yourself, you’re doing a great job!! Thanks for pinning!

      Reply
  18. Morna says:

    So often I think I endure parenting rather enjoying it. How terrible – I am so lucky to have two amazing little girls – I should cherish every moment rather than looking forward to bedtime. Thought – provoking post.

    Reply
  19. Marissa says:

    Well said, it’s a hard line to walk, but we all have to make decisions about what gets our attention when.  And luckily we have a couple of years to figure it out.  Thanks for sharing!  I was your link neighbor on Thoughtful Thursdays, and I’m glad I stopped over.

     

    Marissa

    Reply
  20. Madeline says:

    “What’s really important here?” – Such a simply but powerful question!  I definitely need to ask myself that more every day. x

    Reply
    • the mostly mindful mommy says:

      I’m so glad you find it helpful, Madeleine! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
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  22. Brandi @ penguinsinpink.com says:

    Great tips! I live by that mantra too. Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Broad.

    Reply

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