I was at the lunch table reading stories to my son and he was listening with rapt attention while slowly and uninterestedly eating a morsel or two in between.
As I finished reading a paragraph, I reflexively prompted: “Jaldi khao!”, without even raising my head to look at him.
“Finish off quickly!” and “Take the next bite quickly!” followed soon after.
Every time I told him these, I was confident that he would be dawdling; waiting to be prompted to eat the next bite.
This “jaldi-khao-quickly-finish-off” business went on until my son gave in to my consistent nagging and asked a simple question. His question made me ponder deeply and was the start of a profound change in my parenting.
He simply asked me, “Why?”
He meant, “Why should I eat quickly?”
“Why should I finish off quickly?”
“Why this hurry, Mumma?”
To answer him appropriately I shallowly replied that everybody else was done and we were the only ones sticking around there, so we needed to finish off quickly!
But later I felt so hollow inside to have given him that answer that it made me wonder why do I always ask him to hurry up?
After scanning through my past conversations and interactions with him, I realized that those were full of:
- “Wear your shoes quickly!”
- “Eat quickly!”
- “Come back home fast!”
- “Don’t take so much time in the loo!”
- “Why can’t you walk faster?’
- “Why can’t you respond immediately when I’m asking you something?”
- “Dress up quickly!”
I was shaken: shaken out of some deep slumber of constantly wanting my children to hurry up, finish up in lesser time, respond faster and on the whole be very fast and quick in life.
Why hurry up?
I could not figure out why I wanted my children to always hurry up?
I had no immediately satisfying answer.
But I took a guess, discussed with my husband and we arrived at these:
- Self-inflicted pressure of achieving too much in too less time
- Poor planning on our part leading to putting pressure on children to hurry up
- The newly formed habit of receiving instant results thanks to technology, the internet and gadgets.
- A hypothetical perpetual time-crunch we believe to have
Why not hurry up?
If you have experienced Mother Nature even remotely, you’ll agree that Mother Nature’s pace is the slowest one can ever witness. A sapling takes days to grow, the sun takes hours to rise and set, earthworms and snails take their own time to crawl and move, flowers take months to bloom, fruits take months to ripen; stones, mountains, and rocks take years to get formed and little do I need to mention that we, human beings – Nature’s most beautiful creation – ourselves take a good nine months to be born.
So, if the natural pace of life is slow, why do I need to force my child to be unnatural and live a fast-paced life both mentally and physically?
My attention also ran to:
- pushing babies to use walkers to unnaturally speed up their walking process
- buying books of higher grades to let children get unnaturally exposed to a more challenging syllabus earlier and faster than they should
- pushing children to respond unnaturally quickly the moment someone says a ‘Hi’ or a ‘Bye’ to them
Aren’t all of these ways of unknowingly and unnaturally increasing the pace of children’s lives?
As a Heartfulness practitioner and an advocate of a natural way of life, this was one seemingly simple but a grave mistake that I was committing for a long time.
How did I slow down?
After the above-mentioned realization dawned upon me, I brought about significant changes in my lifestyle that helped me slow down the pace of my as well as my children’s’ lives. Here are a few of those:
1. Simplifying schedules
I stuck to simpler schedules for my children.
I felt that for children – finishing their lessons, rushing to grab a snack, moving out to cycle with friends, getting back home to play endlessly with friends, and lastly having dinner in a distracted state and going to bed hurriedly – was just not done! Children need breathing space to slow down and that is what an easy schedule gives them.
Now my children take up one activity completely in one day. They color, cycle, cook, wash, get crafty – not all in one day; but one all day!
2. Lesser stimulation
I tried my best to bring down the highly stimulated state of mind of my children, mainly by using music and candles. I also tried my best to eliminate loud music, fast-paced screen time, fancy food, bright and flashy room decorations, and so on.
I make it a point to play slow, gentle, and relaxing music at home almost all the time (essentially at bedtime). I light a candle at least once in a day and let children be exposed to its soothing flame. We dim the room lights and observe the flame for a minute followed by a silent heartfelt prayer which is enough to calm all of us down.
This ritual rightly gets us back in touch with the peace and stillness within.
As adults, days on which we don’t get to sit and eat in peace are days we term as extremely busy days. We don’t fail to exclaim, “I was so busy today that I didn’t even get time to sit and eat properly!”
Similarly, for children, peaceful mealtimes contribute greatly to a slow-pace and a calmer state of mind. When it’s mealtime for my children, we get into a quiet room with dim lights and relaxing music. They then have dinner while I read out a few stories to them. This gives them a peaceful dining experience, gives us some room for bonding and calms them down before bedtime.
4. Getting bored
Strange but true, allowing children to get bored is very important for slowing down the pace of their lives. This also calms down their highly stimulated brains, allows creativity and imagination to flourish and subtly suggests to them that life is not only about doing something or the other all the time but also about taking a pause, sitting back, and relaxing.
5. Heartfulness Relaxation
Once a day, I use the technique of Heartfulness Relaxation to help my elder one relax mentally and physically. It takes about 7 minutes and calms him down enough to put him into a deep sleep. All children above 5 years of age can try this simple method of relaxation to soothe a child’s tender state of mind.
These were a few changes I brought about to slow down the pace of our life. These made me take a deep breath in life on the whole and also made my children’s lives much calmer, happier, and better.
What are your views on the pace of life that you currently have? Do you wish to alter it? Waiting to hear your side of the story in the comments below.