Tomorrow is the last day of school for my second grader, and the official start of summer vacation. You might remember that a few months ago I announced that I was going to try to scale things back here at Mommy, for Real, in an effort to hold onto my sanity. One of the things I’m doing is reposting some old favorites that many of you new friends may not have seen yet. Think of it as recycling, or upcycling, if you will. I’m sharing this post again today because it reminds me of what I want to accomplish this summer- really spending time with my daughters, enjoying our days together, having outdoor adventures, and taking a lot of the pressure to “do” and “accomplish” off the table. In fact, this is the first summer that I haven’t signed my oldest up for a regular summer camp–which was mostly for childcare purposes as I still work in the summer– and I’m trying to think of our experiment as a “1980s Summer”.
I want my daughter to experience summertime the way I did as a child- not rushed, not over-scheduled, full of freedom and time to explore. I will still be teaching classes this summer, but only 2 mornings a week, and although I have a few projects in the works, I’d really like to spend this summer savoring the lazy, warm days with my family.
This post– Struggling to Stay Present– is a nice reminder of where I was mentally last summer, how far I’ve come, and another nudge to keep my focus where I want it to be this summer. So you can expect a few old “recycled” posts from me each month this summer, as well as a few new ones. I hope you enjoy this one, and I expect many of you will relate to my experience of trying to do too many things at once. Happy Summertime- may yours be relaxing, full of fun, and free of stress! Sign up here to receive all my new posts by email!
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Struggling To Stay Present
I have a bad habit of trying to do too many things at once. Whether it is more global-juggling too many projects in a small amount of time, or more literal- I am actually trying to have a phone conversation, make my daughter’s lunch, and eat my breakfast in the same moment, I find it is a recurring situation that I seem to regularly fall into. In fact, now don’t judge, I almost always bring my iPhone into the bathroom with me. God forbid I waste a single precious moment on something as useless and inefficient as bodily functions! Better respond to that email or click through my 52 Facebook notifications while I’m in there!
While perhaps a few of you are shaking your head with actual judgment, I suspect many other people, particularly moms, may find themselves succumbing to this multi-tasking trap on a daily basis. Why are we so busy that we can’t simply do one thing at a time? Is it our own faults, or are we swept away in a cultural mandate of efficiency, productivity, ambition, and social connectivity? I find I precariously toe the line between not wanting to miss out on a single Facebook group conversation, and trying to set my phone down often enough to not seem like a hypocrite for subscribing to Hands-Free Revolution. As it happens, I am on vacation right now with my husband, our two daughters, and my parents. We are spending a week in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, an absolutely beautiful town in which it is difficult not to find yourself more grounded and at peace than usual. And still, I force back thoughts like:
That would make a funny tweet. I need to register my daughter for dance class. We haven’t done our school supply shopping yet. I haven’t read a single blog post this week. I should really submit another post to (insert prestigious publication here) soon. How many more days until I go back to work? I need to email so-and-so before she thinks I hate her.
A few years ago, before my second child was born, I meditated daily and practiced yoga at least once a week. I spent most of my evening time genuinely relaxing, and often reading books on spirituality or parenting. When I first read Meditation by Eknath Easwaran, I was shocked to read his recommendation that in any given moment, you should be doing only one thing. That translates to: not eating while you talk, not listening to music in the car, and certainly not bringing your iPhone to the toilet! I was chagrined. But Easwaran’s words rang true; I knew in my heart that when I practiced mindfulness, stayed present, and transcended my mental chatter that I was a happier person. I’m afraid in the past two years I have strayed from my distraction-free existence, a state of being that has been complicated due to the creation of my blog.
I am trying so hard to stay present this week, appreciate the lovely scenery surrounding us, enjoy every second of our daily outings, and savor the company of my family members. I have allowed myself to drop out of the online world this week, at least partially, but I still find myself sneaking onto Facebook periodically, and frantically returning emails on my iPhone. So for the last few remaining days of our trip, I am going to step up my game and attempt to avoid multi-tasking, distractions, and divided focus as much as I can. I’m also going to try to ditch that persistent guilt that follows me whenever I feel I am neglecting my duties. I will leave you with a few of our photos from this week, and you have my solemn guarantee that you will hear from me again as soon as I am home!
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