I read a post the other day about finding a rhythm for the summer and it struck a chord with me. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we focused on finding a rhythm as opposed to using brute force to cram everything into our lives??
Let me elaborate . . .
Lately it feels to me as though life is just one big pressure cooker. There’s pressure to keep up, to get ahead, to be better, to be stronger, to do more, to have more. And as much as I feel like this applies to adults, it extends down to our kids too. Summer isn’t a break from routine, it’s a time for routines to ramp up; without the hassle of school and homework, just think of all the time that can be dedicated to things like hockey! and tennis! and music! And I say this not in a reproachful way, as I found myself driving between a baseball diamond, a tennis court, and a skating rink today, and I’ve entertained thoughts of having the piano teacher come to our house over the next few weeks so that the older one can “keep up” with his piano and the younger one can “get started” before the school year. Rather, I’m saying this because I find myself caught up in it all too.
But here’s the thing. Rushing from one activity to another isn’t bringing immeasurably more happiness to my kids, or to me. Which has me wondering if this ridiculous pace that we all seem to be living our lives at is doing any of us any good.
I will admit that this has been playing on my mind for a few weeks now. All the while several things have happened . . . the Pokemon Go app came out, and with it the satirical Chardonnay Go app for moms. I’ll speak the former first. We had the pleasure of visiting one of our most favourite museums two weekends ago, The Henry Ford. If you haven’t been there, you absolutely MUST go. It is the most phenomenal museum we have ever been to – it truly does have something for everyone, young, old, girls, boys . . . it’s so good we live 4 hours away and have a membership. But I digress. While we were visiting Thomas Edison’s workshop and listening to a docent explain and demonstrate the first phonograph invented by Edison, another family wandered up, and while the adults listened, the kids didn’t once look up from their iPhone screens and their Pokemon game.
And now for the later – I wish I could say that the idea of the Chardonnay Go app is outlandish. But from the way my contemporaries discuss their absolute need for at least one glass of wine at night, it seems downright plausible.
So, what does any of this have to do with finding a rhythm for our lives? Well, this . . . At what point did we, collectively, fall into this mindset where “more is better” to the point that we are happier letting our kids interact with computer generated images on family outings than with each other, and as parents, we need alcohol on a nightly basis to wind down from the craziness of our daily lives?
When we stop and listen to the daily rhythms our bodies are asking us for, and our kids might, if they could articulate it, ask us for, our lives would look quite different. Slowing down allows for time to cook good food – if we’re not rushing out of the house to get to early morning practices, everyone can have a good, nourishing breakfast. And after school, when we’re not running around to a million and one different after school activities, we have time to prepare proper meals, possibly even all together. When we eat properly, real, unprocessed foods, free from sugar and chemical additives, we all feel better; and more importantly, behave better.
And when we’re not rushing around to activities, the kids have time to pursue things they’re interested in. Which means less nagging (pleading, prodding, and then possibly yelling & screaming) for the kids to get ready, and get out the door. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a complete lack of activities for kids – I’m simply suggesting that we have the courage to scale back on what we think the kids “need” to do and focus on what they really want to do. As I plan out the upcoming school year, I’m trying to do just that. While my son enjoys hockey, he doesn’t love it – so rather than force the issue, and enrol him in all manner of power skating classes, he’s playing house league hockey once a week. And the little one, while she could be doing all sorts of different classes, we’re going to stick to the things she loves – dance and skating. And in their down time, they can play, read things they want to read, not just what they need to read for homework, and have fun.
When I’m not rushing around to activities, I have time to pursue things I’m interested in, and I have time to spend with the kids guiding them as they pursue what they’re interested in. And when the kids are more engaged with me, and the Husband, we get fewer and fewer requests from the kids to use technology. And while my kids don’t play Pokemon, maybe with more human connection, we’d collectively find the idea of hunting for images far less appealing than spending time with each other. Which in turn should lead to a lot less stress (and for those that are currently inclined, a lot less dependence on alcohol to relax). And when we’re eating better, and more relaxed . . . well, by definition, we’re healthier and much less susceptible to all the bugs that start to fly around in the fall. (I won’t even bother touching on the stress that a sick child can cause to a tightly packed family schedule!)
And so, as I embark on some vacation time with the kids up north, I’m going to experiment with this concept of rhythm. I’m going to listen to the kids, and to what my body is telling me. And hopefully by the time this vacation is over, we’ll all be accustomed to the rhythms of our lives, and we’ll be able to continue this way of life into the new school year.