Whenever I ask fellow parents how they are, the first answer is always "busy." Parents are under a lot of pressure from work, family, school and community. It's easy to get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to live. We disconnect from spouses and kids because we're stuck in a too-fast lifestyle. We complain that kids are too busy, but they learn from our example. Here are ways parents teach kids, by example, how to slow down.
* Hit "pause" instead of "fast forward." In my early parenting days I was the be-all, do-all diva. Whenever someone needed something, I was the go-to gal. I said "yes" way too often. I was over-committed and constantly stressed. I didn't sleep well and suffered emotionally and physically. Now I'm saying "maybe" instead of "yes." Obviously, some tasks aren't optional. But with electives, I'm saying "let me think about it." This pause gives me time to weigh the impact on myself and my family. It helps me avoid over-extending.
* Reduce. In every area of my life, I'm cutting back. I used to go overboard spending on house stuff and kids' toys. Now I save money and stress by shopping less and buying less. I go to the store weekly instead of daily. Paring down expenses means I don't have to work as much to pay them. It means less junk to worry about and more time to enjoy my family.
* Do with your kids, not for them. One of my biggest early-parenting regrets is that I did too many activities on behalf of my kids instead of with them. Granted the things I did were good--running errands, taking kids places, cleaning, volunteering. I taught Vacation Bible School at our church. Being a perfectionist, I'd spend long hours preparing. One year, while juggling sick kids, VBS, migraine headaches and a husband working 7 days a week, I had a meltdown. I began screaming, swearing and sobbing. And then I had an epiphany. I realized that overdoing it, even with good works, was hurting everyone and helping no one. I quit worrying about the lessons, took the kids to lunch and spent the day at the beach with them.
* Listen to your inner voice. When I overdo it, I ignore basic needs: food, rest, exercise, down time. I take care of everyone else, but I'm deaf to the demands my own body--until it's too late. Then suddenly, I'm exhausted, starved and coming apart at the seams emotionally. I've made myself sick working doing this. Now I'm learning to listen to my body and take care of myself the way I take care of others.
When parents slow down, the whole family benefits.