I remember visiting my brother, who lives in New York, some years ago and being so impressed that he was too busy to have breakfast before he left the house for work at 6 am. Too gobsmacked to even comment on the ten different syrups he could add to his take away coffee.
I remember feeling a little in awe of the busyness of it all, of how everything was “to go” and how everyone was a go.
Fast forward to 2018 and like everyone else, I tell myself, I am time poor. I too am too busy to have breakfast before I leave the house in the morning, attempting to put on my shoes whilst rushing out the door, coffee in hand, firing out a who’s doing the school runs checklist.
"Children do as they see and not as they are told and, shamefaced, I saw a lot of my own bad habits around meal times (eating and standing) and half-completing tasks in the way my children act."
But recently I caught myself scrubbing the bathroom floor, wearing a face mask and rubber gloves, with dinner cooking downstairs, a wash on and a mopped floor drying. And I had a bit of my own gobsmacked reality check. Is this multitasking to within an inch of completing nothing really necessary? Even healthy? Because these busy days, to just sit with a coffee and daydream seems like such a waste of precious time. I do love slowing down and smelling the roses but it doesn’t come naturally to me. And less so since my three children arrived.
I remember a friend being appalled that I sent emails whilst breastfeeding my firstborn. At the time my reaction was “Why not? Would it not be a waste of precious time to just sit and feed my baby. By baby number three, I had added flossing my teeth and putting on my shoes whilst breastfeeding to that ever-growing list. Needs must. Or must they?
Recently I asked my children to sit at the table whilst eating their dinner and to stop playing with whatever toy/animal/sibling they were playing with/annoying. I asked that they sat and talked with each other and with me and didn’t jump to what’s for dessert, down from their chairs, future distractions. That we just ate together and spent time eating together. My request was greeted with protests, tears and resentment because, according to them, my children, I never just sit and eat dinner. In fact, they claim, the last time they saw me just sit and eat dinner was in a hospital bed. Children do as they see and not as they are told and, shamefaced, I saw a lot of my own bad habits around meal times (eating and standing) and half-completing tasks in the way my children act.
At every school I see all the busy people, racing about, on the school run, between school runs, always on the run. Homemade rolls wrapped in tin foil, dashboard dining and scrolling on smartphones whilst waiting for children to come out from school so they too can be escorted to more programmed activities and busyness.
I too am one of those people. Our car picnics are legendary!
And so now I am resolving to do more to do less. I am learning that attacking the day with a stopwatch and bucket list agenda means I miss out on the fullness of the little experiences. I am endeavouring to either scrub the shower or have that once a year face mask. But not the two together. Besides, it’s just bad for the pores.