I was exhausted last week after our whirlwind trip to my grandmother’s funeral. Unpacking, getting back into our routine, finding time to meal plan and shop, and belatedly dealing with the time change on top of recovering from travel… let’s just say I did not feel as though I was on top of my game. Tiny was dealing with most of these things, too, which made it even more challenging to right myself after a long, hard weekend.
This weekend, while Hubbin was home to help tag-team the responsibilities of parenting, I really just wanted to get a bit of extra sleep and enjoy some downtime. Tiny, however, was having none of it. You see, although I had been physically present with her all week, she had missed my attention and focus. I attempted to sleep in just a bit Saturday morning before we headed off to a birthday party but was startled awake by a sweet little voice right by my ear saying, “Mama, it’s time to wake up because I need to you to eat breakfast with me.” So I begrudgingly woke up and sat with her while I nursed my coffee behind bleary eyes and a bad attitude while she chattered away about her hopes and dreams for the upcoming birthday party.
When we got home from the party I felt astonished at how much attention she was still demanding of me. She asked me to read her a story and, as I read, she slowly slid into my arms and lap more and more. That’s when I realized that she wanted my attention; she needed me to be present. So I had to regroup – and quickly. I had to give myself a quick mental refresher course on what being present requires of me as a parent.
You see, being present is about your attention and focus, not about your physical location. The most important thing I can do for Tiny is to:
See the world through her eyes. After my quick attitude adjustment, I had to come up with something to do quickly. So what did we do? We enjoyed the beautiful spring weather and went on a ‘flower hunt.’ We walked around the neighborhood picking blooming weeds out of the right-of-way grass along our street. She had a wonderful time. Although I know they are weeds, she was amazed at each and every little bloom she found. Each one was a treasure. And the fact that I allowed her to pick her ‘flower-picking outfit’ and take her Easter basket to help her gather her flowers made her felt so very special. All that was required of me was regularly ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ as she discovered each new weed…erm flower. Oh, and place them all in ‘vase’ together when we got home so she could rediscover them each time she walked through the kitchen.
And that’s not all – there is so much more to being a present parent. My little attitude check reminded me of a few principles of choosing to be present. After I unplugged and focused on Tiny’s needs, I was able to just embrace the lessons I’ve learned about living in the moment with my kid.
Sometimes life gets messy – and I just have to roll with that. It’s not always easy to make space for Tiny-sized disaster, but I really do have to take a deep breath and be okay with it once in a while. Tiny, like most kids, loves to explore the world using all her senses. That’s what bath time is for, right!?
Sometimes you just need enter into conversation without any grand expectations. Being present doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes Tiny just wants to tell me what she learned at preschool earlier in the day; I have to let her take the lead and simply follow. So when they learned about snow-loving animals at school, we got her plastic penguins out of her toy animal bag, added some ice water to a large mixing bowl, and made a towel palette in the kitchen. From here she could engage in some dialogic pretend play and share all of her new-found knowledge about cold-weather animals with me. All I had to do was ask questions like, “and then what did you learn?” and wait for the answer.
So today I’m trying to be as productive as I can be while Tiny is at school so that I can be completely present when she is home. I’ve already started thinking about ways to be present with my kid after preschool today. I’ve got a few ideas but, mostly, I just want to make sure I’ve eaten a snack before I pick her up and I have a options ready to roll… it’s a beautiful day so I need to make sure I have some outdoor plans in the repertoire.
And to support this goal, I’m using Young Living’s Present Time oil blend. It’s hard to stay focused and present when you are in the middle of all the hard parts of parenting – and there are definitely hard parts. I know that Tiny will be hungry and a little tired when I pick her up. There will probably be a meltdown at some point this afternoon. Despite my desire and effort to be present this afternoon, it’s not going to be filled with perfectly happy moments.
Present Time is a great oil blend that helps me stay relaxed , focus on the positive, and surrender to and celebrate the present moment. With Ylang Ylang, Spruce, and Neroli, this is also a nice fragrance. Although I love diffusing this oil blend, today I’m using it as a perfume and taking the scent with me wherever this afternoon’s adventures take me.
Today I’m determined to be emotionally available to Tiny, and that means being present and enjoying her presence. It’s a decision I have to make.
How are you choosing to be present in your life today?
You can find more information about Present Time in the Essential Oils Pocket Reference by Life Science Publishing (I am currently using the fifth edition) and Healing Oils of the Bible by David Stewart Ph.D., as well as the The Young Living Website. I also really like these blogs by Young Living about Mood-Boosting Oils, Uplifting and Inspiring Oils, and Oils for Meditation and Mindfulness.
And here are some other resources on being present with your kiddo, some of which have some simple but fun ideas to get you started.
- Psychology Today
- Developing Good Habits
- Abundant Mama
- Psych Central
- The Purposeful Mom
- A Fine Parent
- Boba blog