I’m willing to bet all the unmatched socks in my laundry room that you, mama, have lived some variation of this scenario common to my household.
Here’s the scene: I’m at home with my kids, feeling bothered and slightly overwhelmed that the kids are “in the way” of the next checked box on my to-do list. I set them down in front of some toys, an activity, or if I’m desperate (as I often am) a TV show, so I can get back to doing what I want to do.
Sometimes things need to get done now and kids must be distracted. There’s no doubt about that.
But it becomes a problem for me when I fall into the habit of distracting them so I can do what I want to do in the order I want to do it. The little hands tugging on my pant legs or following me around the house are not “bothering” me: they’re calling me to reprioritize. John Trainer said it best: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”
When I need to reframe my perspective at home, I do so physically. I literally sit down on the floor. If you ever feel bogged down by busyness and need to reclaim the beauty of today: I highly recommend that you try it.
Just sit. And yes, it has to be on the floor. If you’re not lucky enough to have 90’s shag carpet like me, put a pillow down on your beautiful hardwoods and just hang out for a few minutes. Put your phone on the counter, and then just sit there and watch how your kids respond. See them right there in the moment.
Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.John Trainer
You don’t have to sit there forever. It can be for 20 minutes at a time. I stop, drop, and sit whenever I start to feel bothered that my kids’ behavior is “interrupting” my day. For me, that’s a solid indication that I need to bring everything to a halt and focus on what matters.
And the best part? Sitting on the floor isn’t an activity you have to prep for. There’s nothing you have to say or do to make it work. You just have to pause, and sit in your kids’ realm and follow their lead.
Often, when I sit, the boys bring me a stack of books to read. Other times, they drive cars around me while I watch them race. Lots of times they want to wrestle. When my oldest is home from school, she usually assigns her brothers and I roles in an imaginary world. My kids seize this pause to ask me questions about snakes and bugs, sing made up songs, build giant block towers and crawl around me like baby animals.
Here’s why this works for me:
All my kids are smaller than I am (for now), and I find that sitting on the ground quite literally puts me in the world where they live, play, and imagine. Their little worlds on the floor are not pressured by tomorrow because kids are, for the most part, totally absorbed and enthralled by the current moment. That’s the beauty of childhood, and being (literally) on their level reanimates that beauty for me.
Something about being at their eye level, and seeing their hands and feet and runny noses and crooked pigtails up close, fills me with gratitude for this unique today.
Whatever I’m concerned with is usually at adult height or on my phone. Sitting on the floor makes everything disappear for a minute (sometimes quite literally; can’t see that sink full of dishes from the carpet, now can you?).
Intentionally pausing to sit with my babies, even just for a few minutes, throws my self-imposed busyness back into perspective. It helps me get up and do only the necessary work (and the dishes) with a sense of calm and a grateful heart.
I’m betting it can help you, too. Because mama, this today, challenging and busy and messy and beautiful as it is, is here now. Today, with your babies, is everything.