On Sunday morning, I sat on the sofa and watched my children play together.
Not a big deal, you might think, but actually for me it was. Usually, they play (or fight) while I am moving about the house, trying to do too many things at once. Tidying, cleaning, cooking, washing, project planning… Even if I am sitting down, I’m writing notes to myself, reading a book or looking things up on the internet, rather than giving them my full attention, which is just the way I try to cope with being a parent and full time employee, as well as keeping on top of my many interests.
One of the things I have been planning recently is my daughter’s birthday party, which has been a bit fraught as she has just started school and so has signed the ‘Schoolchild Secrets Act’. If you’re a parent, you’ll know what I mean when I say that getting any information out of her about what she has done with her day is almost impossible. So, learning about her new friends and therefore who she actually wants to come to this party has been something of a challenge!
Then there’s my son, who is two and a half and has just started pre-school, which means I’m having to cope when he has to be pulled, kicking and screaming, from my arms to go into his pre-school for the morning. It only seems like yesterday that I was in that place with my daughter and she will soon be five.
It is something of a cliché to say that time flies, but clichés are just a well worn way of telling the truth. My babies are growing up, and if I don’t spend more time just sitting on the sofa watching them play (and joining in!) I will miss that happening, and on the rare occasion they are playing nicely together instead of bashing each other, it is important for me to notice! After all, to paraphrase Ferris Bueller (a cultural icon of my youth!) life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you might miss it.
I’ve been struggling a bit recently. Life does sometimes get the better of me, and I have periods of stress and anxiety. A perfect time then, to slow down, stop trying to do everything all at once, and live a bit more in the moment. I’ve been re-reading several old favourite books on this subject: ‘In Praise of Slow’, by Carl Honoré and ‘How to Be Idle’ and ‘How to Be Free’ by Tom Hodgkinson.
There are also lots of comforting Autumnal activities which, even if I could do quickly, I’d rather not:
- Stirring risotto
- Making pies
- Crafting decorations for Halloween and Christmas
- Walking through the local woods
- Planting garlic, over-wintering onions and Spring flowering bulbs
- Sowing sweet pea seeds
- Planning my Spring allotment crop rotation
- Re-reading an old favourite novel
- Watching a film with my children.
- Teaching my daughter how to bake.