There comes a moment for every mom of teens and tweens where you take a long look at your child and realize, “Wow, it really does go by so fast.”
You realize that the time your child will live with you is going to come to a close eventually – and for good reason. It’s healthy for them to move on and become the functioning, healthy adults you’ve raised them to be. That separation doesn’t happen all at once though.
As they prepare to transition away into their own space, they start to become more involved with their own social lives and their own interests. Family time gradually becomes less frequent.
Deep down you know that it’s normal and healthy, but that doesn’t always make letting go easy. Also, it’s really natural to want to make the most of this time-limited phase before it’s over. So how do you savor the rest of that time with them?
For that, we turn to mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a practice that helps us stay in the moment and truly be present.
It’s easy to go through the motions, feel checked out and distance yourself in schedules, screens and routines.
Here are some ways to be more mindful:
- Take the time to observe. One way to be more in the moment is to take time and notice things about your child. When you’re spending time together, take some space to observe the way a smile spreads across their face, what their laughter sounds like, the cadence of their voice and the way they smell when they lean in for a hug. Notice those things and be an observer in the moment.
- Focus on one thing at a time. Dedicate time that doesn’t include multi-tasking. We’re talking about less “mhmmm” and more “ahhh.” Multi-tasking is widely praised as a way to accomplish all the things, but for now, focus on one of the things: connecting with your growing family members. Sometimes just doing that one thing can be the key to everything.
- Approach situations of conflict with curiosity. The premise of mindfulness is inherently non-judgmental. When you find you are coming into a situation that looks like it will involve turmoil, take a deep breath and draw on your curiosity. Learn more about the sequence of events and thought processes that brought you here. Strive to be more curious than cantankerous.
- Show up for your kids while you can. Mindfulness is about being present. Take the time to just be with them. Hold space when things are tough and they don’t really want to talk about it. Be there to bear witness to even small triumphs; the magic is in showing up and celebrating in those moments.
- Shift your perspective. Find the adventure in the challenges. Think about how to reframe when things don’t work out the way you planned. You can get frustrated about being stuck in traffic, or you can find the gift of extra time with your family all together. There’s a temptation to try to engineer big “wow” moments, but you can find a lot of joy in letting life’s little moments take your breath away.
Kids will grow up and leave the nest – that’s the natural order of things.
Everything you’ve done in your parenting has been building toward this eventuality. You have been growing responsible, productive adults who are going to change the world, but to do that, they’re going to have to leave.
Your little birds are going to fly away one day, but if you take the time to enjoy while they’re close and be mindful, there’s more room for joy as you watch them take flight.
How will you use mindfulness to connect with your family when it all goes by so fast?