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Learning to slow down and enjoy quality time with my son

April 11, 2014

About two weeks ago, my 8-year-old son was feeling yucky. The excessive amounts of pollen floating in the air caused his nose to get stuffy, his throat and head to hurt, and his eyes to water. We gave him a day off from school to rest. On that day, he lay down on my bed to chill out. He wasn’t really tired enough to fall asleep, but at the same time, didn’t really feel up to doing much of anything. I lay down next to him.  We talked a little, I stroked his hair, handed him tissues.  It was the first time in a long, long time that we were still together, not doing anything. Despite the fact that he wasn’t feeling well, it was really nice. It reminded me of when he was really little, and I realized that I missed doing that with him.

I guess I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. Last week, after he was feeling better, I picked him up from another busy day at school. We drove home, and I expected that we would immediately begin “our chores,” which is what we do every day after we get home. My son is expected to unpack his backpack and organize the contents for me to look through (lunch box, homework, fliers from the school, etc.). If he has schoolwork to do, he’s expected to get started on it. My chores include going through the mail, starting a load of laundry, washing dishes- you get the idea. These are all of the same things you are probably doing everyday!

Well, on Tuesday of last week, my son walked into the house and tossed his backpack on the couch. He asked, “You want to cuddle with me?” I was in the middle of pulling a piece of junk mail out of its envelope. I thought of the chicken in the fridge that needed to be prepped for dinner, the soccer practice clothes that needed to get washed, the homework in the backpack that needed to be checked. Then, I made a decision that I’m proud of. I tossed the envelope onto the table and said, “Yes.”

I left it all for later, and so did he. We kicked off our shoes and lay down on the bed. He told me more about his day than usual. We talked about a friend of his who comes from a different culture and how some of his beliefs about life are different than my son’s. We talked about what kind of tree is growing in our front yard. I told him a story about when he was a baby, and he cracked up laughing.

It was awesome, and I decided I would do everything in my power not to end it early. I am always the one to jump up first, saying that I have to “put the clothes in the dryer” or “take the veggies out of the microwave.” I’m always rushing to the next thing. So often, life feels like a race, and I am just barely keeping up. This time, I told myself to just stay put until he was done and wait until he got up first. I reminded myself that everything would still get done.

After about thirty minutes, my son stretched and sat up. He asked if he could go play on his tablet; he was done. I grabbed him for a quick hug and let him go play. I sat up and realized that I felt more rested and happier than usual. And, of course, dinner, laundry and all the other “chores” still got done, just a little later than usual. I am grateful that my little boy was insightful enough to realize that we needed to slow down and enjoy each other a little bit. I’m even more grateful that I listened to him.

After I had a baby, I realized so many of the clichés that people said were true: “It goes so fast,” “They grow up before you know it,” and “You’ll miss it when it’s over.” Sometimes, I get so busy with day-to-day life that I forget that those same clichés still apply to an 8-year-old just as much as an 8-month-old!  It is okay to relax a little and actually enjoy your life and your family!

How do you find ways to slow down and enjoy your kids while they’re still kids?  Please share your thoughts and suggestions!