Slowing Down to Smell the Roses – A Gift From Our Children

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in All Articles, Featured, Individual Counselling

Slowing Down to Smell the Roses – A Gift From Our Children

As summer rushes by and back-to-school season rapidly approaches, are we taking enough time to smell the roses with our children? They are curious little beings, always asking about the inner workings of things and the whys of just about anything – from the color of the sky to the way a bank machine works or why bees like honey – they seem to be wanting to take it all in as they go about their days. Although we are often very aware of how our children may extend the time it takes to complete a given task, errand or outing, we also often miss what a gift these delays can be.

Benefits to Your Child

When we slow our lives down to join our children we spend quality and focused time on them and entertain their curiosities and desire for play. When we are fully present with our children, it lets them know how important they are and how much they mean to us. As parents, what we think of our children matters to them more than what any friend or teacher thinks – and since we love them so much, why not tell them by our actions of spending this time with them? It will encourage them and help to foster healthy self-esteem, as they learn the positive qualities they have via you telling them what you appreciate about who they are. As well, they’ll see themselves as worthwhile simply because of this time you spend. Our children will unconsciously learn, “if I am worth this most important person spending focused time with me, I must be worthwhile.”

Another benefit to our children is that we have the opportunity to impact their growth, development, and character in all our interactions. Their curiosity and questioning is about learning, and as parents a big part of our role is to teach and guide. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly imparting knowledge to our children about values, themselves, life and how the world works, often by what we do rather than what we say – non-verbal communication accounts for 90% of all communication. The time spent stopping to smell the roses is an example of being able to impart such knowledge and wisdom to our children directly, with words.

Benefits to You

Often times, we find ourselves rushing through all the tasks and obligations of the day without stopping to even take a breath, let alone smell the roses. As a result, we may often reach the end of the day feeling like we’ve been swept up in a tornado all day long and have just been hurled out of it to a hard and frazzled landing. Injecting a few minutes of mindfulness, simply being present with our surroundings, during the to and fro of our days can do wonders in helping us not feel so burnt out at days end. Our children are wonderfully present in pointing out that neat cloud or pretty flower in the grass – and we would do well to model their behaviour and attitudes to life. The present is magic – puddles are joy, running through sprinklers, chasing a squirrel, riding their bike are all meaningful – they notice and enjoy the world as it is not as they wish it was. Stopping to breath the sweet summer air when stepping out of the office or house, feeling the wind in our hair or actually listening or even singing along to that song on the radio can eject us from the tornados of daily life before we are too swept up to get ourselves out. These moments of mindfulness may be an especially saving grace as we leave the often slowed pace of summer and approach the rush of back to school. And you never know – it might also re-ignite a bit of childlike playful curiosity in you in the process.

Also, as the obligations of parents seem to expand in our society – trying to balance work, caring for aging parents, and children with all their activities – it seems more and more challenging to strike the balance we wish to in terms of these competing priorities. In having our children stop us to ask yet another question while rushing off to the grocery store before we need to get to the soccer field – they are not so gently reminding us of our priorities – them. While the groceries are necessary and getting to soccer on time is important for modeling commitment, we may decide once in a while that the grocery shop will be put off or we’ll play a game together in the car on the way to soccer in order to model balance between work and play. While we have discussed how this will positively impact our children, it will also be healing/fueling to us, as relationships with our significant others, namely our partners and our children, are meant to be close and attached for our well-being, as well as theirs.

Benefits to Your Family

Just slowing down to engage more with our children in play, exploration, and teaching, will benefit the family as a unit, while everyone spends enjoyable time together. Having fun as a family is serious business, though, as it models healthy work/life/play balance to our children and allows us positive time together away from the routines and schedules of daily life. Not only do we tend to get caught up in the routines and tasks of daily life, but our children will learn to do the same unless we inject fun and spend quality time together. Spending even just a few minutes here and there of either planned or spontaneous fun together can be a therapeutic reminder of how much you actually enjoy each other’s company! Sure we know we love each other, but by stopping to smell the roses, we remember how much we really like each other as well.

Recommended Reading:

Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn, 2006

Hold Onto Your Kids, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, 2004