I’m a working mother of 3 small children.
I’m often racing to many activities with a 1-year old-hanging onto my hip, a 3-year-old saying, “I don’t want to…,” and a 5-year-old trying to be helpful by carrying her dance bag as she drags it across the parking lot, feeling late and exhausted as I reach our dance-class destination, when a nice older lady leans over and tells me, “Enjoy this time. These are the best years of your life.”
It wasn’t what I wanted to hear at the time, but it was what I needed to hear.
I share this window into a hectic part of my day to illustrate that, in today’s world, it’s easy to get engrossed in the details, in our self-imposed “to do” lists, and miss the truly wonderful moments of our lives.
One way my family has been able to slow down is at the end of every day, we sit down together at dinner, go around the table, and ask each person, “What was your favorite part of the day?”
Usually my 5-year-old daughter needs some time to think up her answer, my 3-year-old son is all-too-eager to answer, and the 1-year-old baby watches intently. My 3-year-old will say, “My favorite part of the day is getting thrown in the garbage,” then laugh hysterically, thinking he is so funny.
After the rest of the family laughs too, he may say, “Playing trains with mommy.” After taking a moment to reflect, I often find myself saying something I did alone with one of the children that day, in between all the crazy activities. It’s usually something like “Reading a book with my daughter” — even if it was only for 5 minutes before every one else got up in the morning.
My daughter might say, “Jump-roping after school”. And then we enjoy taking turns making something up for the baby, like ”Eating dinner, or breakfast, or lunch (he likes to eat, and often verbalizes “mmm, mmm, mmm” as he does so).
Next, my husband — and I know he has had a very stressful day — will often say his favorite part of the day is “right now.”
And then I think, yes, my favorite part of the day is right now too.
All the activites and obligations we as families have enrolled in rarely make “My favorite part of the day“ for my children. It’s often the small, focused time we take to listen and do something they want to do.
I strive to be present and mindful with my children every day, and yet it’s often the most difficult for me to do. I often say that my husband and I are the most efficient couple you’ll ever meet. We can divide and conquer any job or task. But when it comes to communication, I’m most thankful for our daily evening ritual of “Our favorite parts of the day,” because it gives us time to listen to our whole family, and to appreciate what’s most important to everyone.
Dr. Ditte Karlovits joined Kids Plus in 2012.