The world today seems to go at an ever-increasing rate of speed. Albert Einstein theorized that if you stood high on a step ladder, time would pass more quickly. David Derbyshire reported that Scientists proved part of his Theories of Relativity. They showed that atomic clocks measured time as going faster the higher up they were. Does that mean we should sleep in the basement to slow time and avoid aging? Because as a mother, I feel that time passes more quickly the more activities I schedule and the more children I have. I call it "Shannon's Theory of Relativity." The more people I am related to, the less time I have. I find myself wishing for more hours in a day.
If you have a color-coded calendar, and feel like you spend your days transporting kids from one event to another, you may feel like time is passing faster than it should. In an effort to be a good parent and provide the best of life's opportunities for our children, we sign them up for sports, music lessons, clubs, special school events and church activities. While meaning well, we often create enormous stress for them and ourselves. Do we really need more time, or should we examine what we do with our time?
In an article in Psychology Today, author David Elkins explored parents' over-scheduling of their children's lives. He reported that we do it in an effort to give our children the best experiences in life. But, as a result of our living life at break neck speeds, we have increased our families' stress levels, which is not good for us physically. It has reduced opportunities for children to learn to be creative, which is important. Overscheduling has decreased the chances our children will develop meaningful relationships with extended family members, and more importantly, it takes away opportunities for children to play.
David Gerrard said, "One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching." What do we want our children to remember of their lives with us? When they watch their home movies will they be strapped in a car seat, eating fast food, racing to the next lesson or playing in a park?
Years ago, the world seemed to be a different place. It was safe for me and my family to wander the beaches, lie in the sand watching hermit crabs walk, explore tide pools and build forts. We weren't wasting time. We were learning to work as a team on projects, learning to love nature and science and learning to create. As the world has changed, children all over the planet have become more supervised and have less time to ponder on things around them.
Play is important. Author Hara Estroff Morano in Psychology Today explained in her article titled, "The Power of Play," that play is important to our physical health, brain development and increases our capacity to create, bond and find love. So, knowing play is important in a fast paced world, how do we slow our lives down and create time to play?
Here are some ideas and tips for creating moments of play in our lives and learning to live a little more in the moment and a little less by the calendar.
Schedule a day not to schedule
. Pick a few days a month that you and your family will not fill with activities. Each month we choose one weekend to leave town and live an unscheduled day together. When our children were small, Saturday was lovingly referred to as "Park Hopping Day." On our limited budget, we took turns choosing a location for a leisurely picnic and play. It was free, other than the drive there, and those memories are family favorites.
Visit safe places to play
Learn locations in your area that are safe for your children, or you, to play. We have a secluded beach that we visit. It has a very shallow, safe wading area. Children are never out of site or unsupervised, and can safely wander a little. They feel like they have some freedom. They begin finding things to float and last summer built a beautiful sand castle that they sprinkled with pink drink powder and covered with flowers. I photographed the castle and captured a precious life moment.
Tune out, turn off and let your children experience silence
Turn off media, loud music and television. Create a quiet atmosphere once in a while.
Practice taking a moment to be in the moment
This is a technique I use and have taught others to use during moments of stress:
Stop and be still
Take a deep cleansing breath, breathe out just a little longer than you inhale and repeat it three times. What does the air smell like?
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you for just a moment. Ponder on what you hear.
Open your eyes and notice details. Do you notice something new or beautiful?
Feel the fabric of your clothes, or the texture of your chair or something nearby. Think about what you feel.
Feel your feet on the ground and the pull of the earth.
Take one more deep breath and slowly exhale.
Stretch just a little and gently rejoin the world just a little calmer.
Abraham Lincoln said, "It's not the years in your life, it's the life in your years." Does that mean pack more activities in your life, or does it mean improve the quality of the life that you live? Don't let life flash before your eyes, plan good activities chosen wisely, but also remember to leave time to be together, create and play. Life is a reality to be experienced and savored, filled with both work and play, but most importantly enjoyed with the ones you love. This week, schedule just a little less and leave just a little more time to play.