You know the saying, “Where did the time go?” When did my first tiny (or not so tiny!) baby become a man with a car licence, a serious girlfriend, and facial hair? Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was gazing into those newborn eyes and comparing our features in the mirror, in absolute awe that this little being was my flesh and blood? Wasn’t it only yesterday that he took his first teetering steps, holding on to a postage cylinder thinking that it was something that would keep him on his feet, not realising it wasn’t attached to anything? Wasn’t it only yesterday that he said “I wuv you Mummy” for the first time?
I am so incredibly happy that we made the decision to pull our two eldest children out of school, and that the younger two have never been. I am so thankful for the time that we have been able to spend together; that I have been here to wipe snotty noses, dry tears, laugh at jokes, and reminisce together rather than have to ask “What did you do at school today?”
But how am I using the time that we have together? It is so easy for the days to drift along, and to be gone like sand blowing away in the breeze. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily stuff of life, that we forget to really LIVE our lives to the full.
I recently saw an ENORMOUS sand timer, and I thought, “I want one of those!” I guess my desire symbolised the fact that right now, with my oldest on the cusp of adulthood, I want time to s l o w d o w n……. But alas, as the saying goes, “Time waits for no man”.
So my motto for this year is Carpe Diem – seize the day! Make the most of the moments. And my reason for this is that the sands of time are beginning to rush through the hourglass and this phase of life is beginning to draw to a close: that of having all four of our children at home together. My oldest child is now 18 and working full time, with a serious girlfriend taking up much of his time and attention. This is a good thing, of course! But it reminds me that life as we know it, with our children under our wings, is changing. I delight in what lies ahead, but I also intensely treasure these moments in the here and now.
I have on my bookshelf the highly acclaimed book The Power of Now. I also have the audio version of it. So really, I have no excuse for not having read it yet! I guess it just hasn’t been enough of a priority for me. It has been overshadowed by the other stuff of life. And that’s how it goes with most things really. I’m a full-on IDEAS person. Actually fleshing out those ideas, bringing them into our daily lives as things we actually DO is not such a strength for me. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve started my other blog, Unshackled Adventures, where I can chronicle some of the things we do. Because it’s not enough to DREAM of doing things. It means little or nothing if those dreams aren’t actualised.
I do love to dream! And I believe that the dreaming is essential to the doing. But the doing is also essential to the dreaming. DO THE DREAM!
From what I understand, one of the secrets to “living in the now” is fully immersing myself in this moment. Feeling the sensations in my surroundings, allowing my senses to come alive, and really engaging in life to the full, right here right now. It’s not living in this moment whilst dreaming of the next.
Sandra Dodd’s “Do It!” page about unschooling really spoke to me recently, and I strongly advise all unschoolers, and in fact all parents, to read it. Today. And…. to do it! As I wrote in my last post we just don’t know how long we have with our children. Why waste one minute of it!
One of the challenges in our family is that until recently we had three, yes three, shift workers in our family of 6 people. This made for almost non-existent shared family dinners, because it is extremely rare to have everyone home in the house at dinner time on the same night. So because there was usually at least one or two people not present, I started to get out of the habit of preparing a proper sit down family meal. Then it became a habit for us not to eat together, so that on the nights when we actually were all home I wasn’t thinking ahead about planning for a shared meal, and one or both of the teens would end up going off to do something with friends. We gradually became quite disconnected as a family unit, and whilst I’d been blaming it on the broad ages of the children, the older two becoming more and more independent, and the fact that there was so often one to three people not present in the evening, I began to slowly realise that it was also partly my fault. As the home maker, I had let that shared family meal slip away. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that family meals should be compulsory or a meaningless habit, particularly for home ed families that spend a lot of time together anyway. There are many ways to connect as a family and this is only one of them. But I realised that for us, with the older teens gradually spending more and more time with friends, the shared family dinner is something that brings us together, something that represents home as a warm and welcoming place, something that invites them to the table and invites them to family life. So I decided that I needed to make the preparation and presentation of the family meal a habit again.
I also realised that, with our family calendar on the fridge, it is usually possible to find one meal time in the week when no one is working, and I decided to make that a special family meal, whether it be brunch, lunch or dinner. This week, that happened to be tonight. It took effort to protect that time. There was talk of extra children sleeping over, or for a couple of our children to go elsewhere, but I decided to prioritise our family time together. And it was wonderful. This is the second week in a row now when we have planned for and achieved a special shared meal. I know that for most families this is common place, but for us, having everyone in the house at the same time to share in a meal is something worth CELEBRATING! So we helped prepare for the meal together, we put flowers on the table, music on the stereo, we shared delicious food together, laughed and chatted, cleaned up together, and then a few of us enjoyed a couple of games of Hearts (a card game). Is it showing off to say that I got a “slam”? 🙂 I am so glad we did this, and I hope to make it a regular event, but not so regular that it loses its specialness. Whilst we don’t have the privilege of eating together most nights, it is nice compensation to make it a bit special when we do. And I’m hoping that it establishes a habit that can continue even after the nest starts to empty, because once a week or so is quite sustainable I think!
I have many other ideas for ways that I hope to live by the motto of Carpe Diem this year; this is just one.
What about you? What will you do to seize the day, capture the moment, and create special memories with your family? What will you do to make the most of this day and the time you have together with your family?