Living in the present can be an elusive goal. Every year, around this time, I begin reflecting on the year that was, and thinking of what I might do differently in the year ahead. I always land on the same goal – live in the moment, and be present.
To-do lists, planning ahead, being prepared – these are all good things, right? Well, not when they take the place of what is right in front of you. My toothy toddler smiling his silly grin and tearing my house apart. Or my little lady donned head to toe in princess attire, begging me to play dolls with her for just five more minutes before bed. I will admit it – many times my head is not in the game. I am thinking about emails that need a response, what to make for dinner or what is going on this weekend.
Here is my highly non-scientific list of what works for me to live more in the moment:
Exercise. I am one of those people who have a hard time sitting still. I am a “do-er.” To a fault. Burning off some energy helps me focus my mind, and reward myself with time to enjoy the present. It is a bit neurotic, but it works for me.
Deep breathing. Some call it meditation, but I am too high energy to sit still for too long (see above). So I breathe deep. It helps center and calm me, and reminds me when impatience starts creeping in (or, let’s be honest, rears its ugly head.)
Engagement. Passive activities invite thoughts to wander. When I am zoning out in front of the TV with the kids, or sitting with them while they watch endless Shopkin videos on KidsTube, I know it is time to spring into action. Play a board game, go outside, do something that requires me to think and be engaged.
Take a trip down memory lane. Sometimes, I will look at pictures on the iPad or tell stories to the kids about funny behaviors they had when they were babies or toddlers. My daughter, Victoria, loves to hear about her “pink pacifier” and how she used to flip the bottom part up so that it sat just so on her lip. She begged to hold on to it after she woke up, claiming she was “still tired!” My oldest son, Cameron, would confuse his “me” and “you” and would tell me, “Mommy hold you!” meaning he wanted me to hold him. Remembering these little moments reminds me that time is always passing, whether I am living in the present or not.
Give your kids (a non-material) gift. In a season centered around giving, it often ends up feeling like one big race to buy the best presents or most expensive new gadgets. My kids pray to Santa, literally, “Santa, please can you give me that for Christmas?” every time they see something on TV that piques their interest. Live in the present by giving your time to your kids, not another material possession, to help create the memories. Make holiday cookies, look at Christmas lights, construct a gingerbread house from a store-bought kit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something focused on time together, rather than things.
I am committed to try to live in the moment this holiday season, and give my kids the gift of presence rather than just presents.