Time is much more valuable than money. It is the stuff of life, the basic currency. And how we spend it makes all the difference not only to our own health and well-being, but also to our children’s experience and development.
By slowing life down to a child’s pace, parents support their children in finding and becoming their best selves. So instead of looking for ways to jam more activities and achievements into a busy life, I’m taking a read through Brianna Wiest’s eighteen ideas, and thinking about ways to implement the ones I’m not doing yet.
Wiest suggests we start writing things by hand—letters to friends, grocery lists, and memos to our kids. It feels different to do it and to receive it, and changes the way we experience the activity.
Something I’ve written about often and is based on evidence is the importance of do-nothing times. We need to spend time that has no focus sometimes if we’re to discover and affirm and live out what really matters to us. We need to make sure our kids have enough do-nothing times to find themselves, too.
Wiest advises that we put more time into thinking before responding: ‘A sign of true intelligence and confidence,’ she writes, ‘is someone who takes time to consider the question at hand in a little more depth, and then offers a response.’
She suggests cooking a nice meal just for the sake of doing it, getting all dressed up just because you feel like doing that, and making phone calls to friends and relations just to say hi, and ask how they’re doing.
I have an e-reader, but hardly ever use it, so Wiest’s suggestion that we read real hard copy books is one that I follow already. I agree with her that there is something better in having a real book, an object that carries its own stories and ideas, that I can write in if I feel like it, share with someone else, put on my bookshelf to return to some day. An object I can leaf through, back and forth, and up and down the page.
I agree with Wiest about the importance of disconnecting from technology frequently and regularly. This is especially important for parents. As Tracy Dennis has written, ‘Multi-tasking on our devices all the time is a sure-fire way to interfere with our ability to look our children in the eye, hear what they have to say, sensitively pick up on their feelings, and transmit that sparkle in the eye. The multitasking mode is the opposite of mirroring and of being present.’
I want to do more celebrating with long, multiple course dinners, and to invest more time with real people, and to listen—just listen!—to music. I want to explore my neighbourhood more closely, and stop to make connections throughout the day.
When I’m in the right kind of head space, I find housework deeply satisfying. I first encountered this somewhat revolutionary idea when I read the Tassajara Cookbook as a young mother. I’m happier and a better person when I feel gratitude to my kitchen utensils, and express that gratitude in taking good care of them.
Yes, it is really important to do kid things with kids. And to answer things in a timely fashion, and to put my health and well-being at the top of my to-do list everyday. And to have something I’m planning, something to look forward to.
Thank you, Brianna, for reminding me of all these ways to slow my life down to a child’s pace. I think this may be the true secret of the fountain of youth, as well as a great recipe for parenting.