Slow It Down

Have you ever gone to bed at the end of the day and thought, “Where did that day go?”

The older I get, the faster time seems to fly by. Our busy lifestyles and energetic children makes it seem that life is rushing past us at 500 miles per hour. It takes conscious effort to slow down and live in the moment.

Slowing down has a fancy new name – mindfulness. When you slow down enough to examine each fleeting thought that passes through you, what are they? Pick one thought and examine it.

What emotions are you feeling right now? Linger in that emotion and feel it deeper.

What activity is taking place right in front of your eyes? Is your toddler learning to walk? Is your five year old reading the cereal box for the first time? Take it all in, especially those moments of firsts.

Negative Thoughts Can Damage Us

There will be times when you slow down to examine a thought and it turns out to be negative. Negative thoughts can be damaging to us as parents and to our children. These kinds of thoughts such as, “What did I do wrong?” have the power to make us less effective parents because they feed our insecurity. We can start to doubt ourselves.

Or by thinking, ‘What’s wrong with my child?” we can unknowingly create a negative attitude towards that child. That’s why slowing down and becoming mindful can be such a powerful tool for us to help change things when they aren’t going well.

Negative Thoughts, Meet Your Enemy

When we find our thoughts becoming negative, we must hold them up to the truth. Did you really do something wrong? If so, can you make it right?

Is there actually something wrong with your child or are you needing to try another parenting tool? By slowing down our thoughts and considering whether or not they are true, we can quickly take action on a more positive note, with more compassion in us, towards us, and towards our child.

It might be as simple as reframing the thought in a more positive light or using missing information to see the bigger picture.

Recipe for Tool #4:

Ingredients: the ability to step back at different times during the day to breathe and slow down. The ability to see the truth and compare our thoughts to it. The willingness to reframe the thoughts that don’t serve us or our children.

Step 1: Stop and breathe.

Step back and freeze time for a few seconds. Take a deep breath. I like the 3:4:5 method. Breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 4, then exhale for 5 counts. Doing this shifts you from fight or flight to rest and restore. It engages the higher level thinking brain as well. Talk about bang for your buck!

Step 2: Capture a Thought, Emotion, or Event

Grab the first thought you can. Next, place it side by side with the truth. Reframe negative thoughts with the truth in mind.

Or, identify an emotion and take a few moments to feel it. Deeply.

Take a mental picture of the big events, especially the firsts and the most meaningful ones, knowing that this moment will never happen again.

Step 3 – Back to Reality

With your mental picture, your truth, or your emotion in the forefront of your mind, step back into the action, having gained a better perspective and appreciation for what you have right now.

Capture Childhood

Have you heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short?” It certainly rings true to me.

Parenting flies by.

You blink and suddenly your newborn is a toddler. The school years rush by and before you know it, your house will be empty.

Don’t let these moments pass you by.

HB

HB is a roller coaster father, one minute he is ecstatic about his children, the next he wonders if life will ever get any better. A long standing member of the 'I yell at my kids' club, he writes with passion and an analytical mind. Dissecting and separating the nuanced strategies that make a good parent great. He experiments with parenting techniques on his 3 year old so you don't have to.

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