The word "pause" is a very familiar term. In my house, pause usually represents either the button I hit on the TV remote to (loudly) announce that dinner is ready. That's for the younger kids. For my older crew, I pause the house's internet access, which flushes the older kids out of hiding in all corners of the house like cockroaches.
But the word PAUSE can have entirely new meanings in your life as a parent.
Learning to pause and give myself time has really had a great impact on several areas of my life. This concept may seem like a no-brainer to some people, but most of us moms tend to "go-go-GO!" and plow through the day's tasks and moments, often without slowing down.
1. Choose Action Rather Than Reaction:
One of the areas that I've been focusing on is not just immediately reacting to a less-than-pleasing situation, but rather, taking a moment to process it and to calm down before responding.
Let's take a typical household crisis. I'm sure you're familiar with the kind of disasters I'm referring to: the spills, the toddler antics, and the mischievous messes that can range from moderate to full-on disaster.
My previous reaction to spills and chaos would usually be one of instant agitation. But I made a choice -not an easy choice, but a choice- to pause for a few moments prior to responding in situations like this.
And you know what? It helps, a lot. When you allow yourself to stay quiet for a few extra seconds upon facing a catastrophe, your words are often far calmer. You're then able to react in a way that addresses the behavior directly, rather than your own (understandably) angry reaction. In fact, after I put this into practice, I threw my kids off the first few times. I'd walk into a disaster, pause, and calmly respond.
Kids? MINDS BLOWN. They expected the typical displeasure and/or mom tirade. You don't need to cry over spilled milk, and- you don't have to scream over it, either (even if you want to, on the inside).
Pausing for a moment is a benefit to YOU, because it gives you the chance to process and think clearly instead of merely reacting emotionally.
Does that mean that the children are not responsible for their actions? Of course not. They're still required to help clean up their own messes, and are accountable for their behavior. But instead of reacting in anger, pausing allows you to dole out the appropriate response in a much calmer and rational way.
2. It Reduces The "I'm OVERWHELMED!" feeling
As a parent, there is always a mental "To Do" list, both on paper and mentally streaming in the background. There are always countless things to do, whether they are tasks involving the kids, your spouse, household chores, shopping, bills, etc.
For myself, there is never a time when I feel "done"; my To-Do list is never completely checked off. There have been many days when I'm dashing through the house, trying to triage my endless list and feeling utterly overwhelmed by the sheer massiveness of it all.
You know that feeling: too much to do, too little time. It's that pressure that often threatens to steal your sense of peace and well-being.
Insert "PAUSE" here.
Give yourself those break moments. Instead of running at full-speed endlessly, then crashing in either despair or frustration, I've learned to give myself a chance to recoup. I give myself moments in the day when I just.sit.down. I'll read a book. I'll sip coffee and play on my phone. Whether you're a SAHM or a working mom, allow yourself the right to carve out those little moments of down time. Most importantly: don't allow yoursef to feel guilty for pausing for a break.
Most moms can relate to the difficulty that trying to maintain this balance can be sometimes. But the end result is worth it- when you pause to give myself time, you will feel much less exhausted and defeated than when you don't. It's not a luxury, but a necessity.
3. You're "In The Moment" Rather Than Running Alongside Of It
Do you ever find that in the midst of your typically hectic day, you don't seem to know where the day even went? Oh, sure it seemed like it took forever in a sense, but sometimes we're so busy 'getting things done" that we aren't necessarily paying attention to what we're even getting done.
"Mindfulness" is a big buzzword these days in parenting, but it's simply the idea of being "in the moment" with your child(ren). And I confess that I've missed WAY too many moments by being distracted by all that I had to get done.
And yes, tasks still need to get done in order for families to function, but being too distracted causes you to forget what, and who, you're doing it all for. When we miss the joyful moments because our heads are always down over our work, we miss out on what it's really all about.
Do I want to pause in folding my laundry mountain in order to get on the floor and build blocks with my toddler? Not always. But I do it more now, because he won't always be a toddler. He won't always want my attention the way that he does now, and I know that when that time comes, I'll miss it dearly.
Parenting requires an abundance of energy, patience, and organization. It's hard work that requires a degree of self-pacing in order to avoid pessimism and burnout.
If your life is consistently on fast-forward, hit PAUSE.