Bedtime can be stressful when you’re convinced it has to happen by a certain time. The evening walk becomes less fun because you keep telling them to hurry up. Dinner becomes less satisfying because there’s less time to taste the food. In fact, from a kid’s perspective, speeding things along starts to feel like it’s the most important thing in the world to us.
C’mon, eat your dinner. C’mon, finish this math problem. C’mon, let’s go. C’mon, close your eyes. C’mon, wash your ears so we can get out of the bath. C’mon, we already talked about this, why are we discussing it again?
As if there is somewhere we actually have to be, something better we have to do. As if there is some deadline, as if any of this really matters.
Parenting is stressful, for sure, but how much of this stress is self-inflicted? We set arbitrary deadlines, arbitrary expectations. We insist on moving things along, getting them done, doing them efficiently. And then when our kids ask why, we get mad…because we don’t have an answer to that very simple question.
It’s ridiculous. It’s also painful. We are making our kid’s lives unpleasant, as well as our own. We are creating conflict which we don’t enjoy and they resent. We are depriving ourselves of moments—garbage time moments—that we should be present for. That can be wonderful. That are just as important as any of the big moments that we think we are planning for.
We should ask ourselves, as we rush through things, what are we rushing toward? Netflix? Responding to email? To the next activity? It’s not so critical when you put it that way. It’s even more humbling when you drill down further, because what comes after the next activity and the next one and the next one? Eventually, our kids grow up. Then they have kids of their own. And after that? Death.
By rushing through things we are rushing away from life, from now. It’s beyond stupid.
So slow down. Be here, while you still can.
“Thou Shall Be Present” is the 10th commandment in The Stoic Parent: 10 Commandments For Becoming A Better Parent. The Stoic Parent course is 10 days of the most important things that you can do to become the best parent you can be. If you want to take your parenting to the next level, sign up for The Stoic Parent today!