Pressing the Pause Button

Do you ever find yourself on the way to collect the children from school or driving home from work with the endless tick, tick, tick of your endless to do list churning through your mind—what you need to do, what you need to get, where you need to be churning over in your mind? Have you ever found yourself trying to make it through the list before you can finally, finally sit down and relax for a few minutes? And, then, well, it’s time to get to bed!

Parenting requires us to multi-task like we have never multi-tasked before and, sometimes, it can become all about getting things done rather than enjoying what we are doing. Many parenting guides use some variation on the idea of “Pressing the Pause” button. This means when we find ourselves reacting to our children with anger, frustration or simple exhaustion, that we take a moment before we respond. This might mean just taking a few deep breaths; it might mean walking in to another room for a few minutes; or, if emotions are running really high, it might mean deciding to address the issue at a later time or date. It involves acknowledging our own emotions, taking the time to think about how we are feeling and recognising that reacting in anger or frustration won’t help us or our child. Taking this time allows us to calm down and react with the love and patience that we and our children need.

This idea can be applied to many situations—not just when your teenager comes home later again or when your toddler hops out of bed for the 15th time in a row. It can be useful when that list starts to tick, tick, in your mind on your way to collect the children. Instead of thinking, “we need to get to soccer, then to music class, ugh, I forgot to bring the raffle tickets, what will we make for dinner, the kitchen is a disaster, lunches need to be done, where is that Irish book…”, press the pause button, take a few deep breaths and stay in the moment. Let yourself find a moment of enjoyment—if you’re in the car alone, put on your favourite music. If you’re with the kids, find a crowd-pleaser and all belt along. If you’re trying to get the dinner ready, while making lunches and keeping little ones happy and entertained while underfoot, and the chaos threatens to become overwhelming, try pressing the pause button. Give yourself a moment, acknowledge that this is a lot to manage and let yourself relax. Think about something positive in the moment–share a joke with the children, give them a hug, savour what you are cooking…whatever you need to do to make this moment enjoyable.

That list will still be there, and there will still be moments when everyone flies out the door with breakfast half eaten and books forgotten. Giving yourself time to pause, to enjoy this moment rather than worrying about all the moments to come, however, can make a big difference in how everyone in the family reacts to stress and let you all enjoy your time together.