Don’t Do Something, Just Sit There
Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. – GUILAUME APOLLINAIRE
Not too long ago, my 5-year-old daughter and I went on a “date” (we often do this as a way to spend one-on-one time together and connect). We decided to have a girls’ day of shopping and lunch together. After a busy, fun-filled day of picking out clothes and some other items she needed, we were both exhausted and decided to stop for a snack at our local Starbucks. Little did I know this pit stop would be the best part of our entire day. Rather than sit across from me at our table in Starbucks, my daughter curled up in the seat beside me and nestled her head on my shoulder. For about 15 minutes, we just sat there. We exchanged few words and just sat together watching some employees rearrange store shelves. It was the most connected we had been all day and we were doing nothing – we were simply being there together. These few minutes reminded me that sometimes the best way to connect with our children and loved ones is to simply stop “doing.”
For many parents, the thought of doing nothing is a foreign concept. Most of us live in a perpetual state of busy-ness. From getting out the door in the morning to errands, work, play dates, shopping, email, laundry, and appointments, we always seem to be on the go. (I feel tired just mentioning all of that!!) Unfortunately, when we live in a state of constant busy-ness, we become addicted to “doing.” We focus on to-do’s and getting things done and it becomes challenging to transition to a slower pace. In fact, for many of us, the thought of slowing down or doing nothing creates a feeling of uneasiness – we feel like we need to be doing something; we think doing nothing is unproductive. The feeling of uneasiness about doing nothing is usually a signal that we need to slow down and reconnect to our lives. Because when we’re constantly “doing” and on-the-go, we become disconnected – disconnected from ourselves, our children, our families and the little things that really matter to us. With this in mind, challenge yourself to take some time to stop “doing” and just be with your children and your family. Don’t do something; just sit there and watch how powerful this method of connection can be. Here are three ideas for practicing the art of “doing nothing”…
- Make space in your family life. Make a conscious effort to free up some time and avoid over-scheduling yourself and your family. You might say no to a volunteer opportunity in your community, sign up for only one activity with your child rather than two or three, or put off a project or commitment you’ve been considering. Slowing down and doing less is a key step in this form of connection.
- Try not doing something and just be with your child. Often times in our quest to do what’s best for our little ones, we get caught up in doing all the things we think we should be doing – speaking a certain amount of words each day, stimulating them with specific toys as much as possible, maximizing their floor time each day, reading, reading, reading…and the list goes on an on. While these activities are important to engage in, you don’t always have to be talking and teaching and stimulating. Don’t be afraid to disconnect from all the expert advice now and then and just be with your little one – sit in a rocking chair together and listen to some soft music, sit on a blanket at the park or in your backyard and just observe what’s around you, lie on the floor beside your little one while she plays and just be there.
- Don’t do something and connect with YOU. In our 24-7 on-demand lives, it’s easy to be constantly doing things for everyone else and become disconnected from ourselves. One of the most important ways we can connect with our children and families is by being connected to our selves – recognizing when we’re unbalanced and out of sync and taking the steps to reconnect and restore. If you don’t already, begin a habit of taking some much needed time for yourself to refuel your physical and emotional energy. Forget about the baskets of laundry and the dishes in the sink, have a bubble bath, get a massage, or just sit with a cup of tea and stare out your window – take a time out and just be.
Copyright 2007 DreamKids. All rights reserved.
Dr. Kelly Pryde is a parenting and self-development expert and the founder of DreamKids – a company dedicated to celebrating and developing the potential of children and families. A speaker, author and mother of two, Kelly holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and offers inspiring and practical ideas for today’s parents. To learn more visit www.DrKellyPryde.com or www.dreamkids.ca.