“T-minus.” My children hear these words all too often at my house.
“T-minus 15 minutes until bed.”
“T-minus 10 minutes until dinner.”
“T-minus one minute before I turn off ‘Dog with a Blog’ and watch ‘TMZ.'”
It is a constant countdown to what we need to be doing, when we need to be leaving to get to school on time or when we need to get to sleep so we don’t feel like the cast of “The Walking Dead” in the morning.
I am lucky if I pick them up from school and can get back home before 6:30 p.m., then the mad dash of trying to make something edible and healthy for dinner, a little chill time, followed by baths, teeth, reading books and then finally bed.
During the week especially, I feel like I am always pushing them to be doing something. The weekends are much more relaxed and I always look forward to those Saturday mornings when we are in our jammies until 10, wrestling and goofing off until we get dressed and start our day. But weeknights are so stressful, I get so sick of my own voice constantly prodding them to do whatever gets them closer to being in bed.
With that being said, I have been making a concerted effort to stay in the moment with my kids. If you are always thinking of what is next, you are robbed of the “now,” which is the greatest gift of all.
Last week, on a school night when I am usually “T-minusing” all over the place, we decided to go swimming. I did my best to ignore the nagging feeling that I should get them dried off, inside and eating dinner. We swam, played Marco Polo and had cannonball contests and then instead of chicken, broccoli and pasta, we had watermelon and grilled cheese for dinner. We skipped baths and ended the night cuddled watching “Treehouse Masters.” They didn’t get to bed exactly on time, we didn’t have a very well-rounded dinner and the dishes were still sitting dirty in the sink. But it was a perfect night. When I close my eyes I can still feel them cuddling me on the couch and the completely ecstatic looks on their faces doing cannonballs. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
Next time you are about to think or say “T-minus” and begin the ever-so-exhausting job of trying to stay on task, stop, look around, take a deep breath and hold on to the moment with all you have.
Because when it comes down to it, do you think your kids will remember that you got them to sleep on time or that you laughed together until your face hurt? I know this can’t be the case every night, but try it. The dishes will wait.