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Because family life matters

Take a moment

“Every single moment is your life,

so enjoy the moment to enjoy your life fully.”

Debasish Mridha1

As single parents it is so easy to get caught up in the everyday struggles of juggling everything on our shoulders. We get good at multi-tasking, thinking about 10 things at the same time whilst cooking dinner, folding clothes and planning the following day’s lunches for the kids. However, are we so busy that we miss those special moments in time?

I remember one evening when I was working away. I got back to my hotel room and sat by the window and noticed this most beautiful sunset. I nearly got up to continue all the other things that I needed to get done, but decided to actually stop and enjoy the sunset in all of its glory over the city.

Often we can live in the future, working hard towards it whilst saying to ourselves in the back of our minds, ‘when a less busy day comes, I will stop and enjoy things more or spend a bit more time with the kids.’ I will let you in on a little secret that I found out along my journey: a less busy time never comes. “Some mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can be caused by ‘too much work and not enough play’. And not taking time out for relaxation may make any existing mental health issue worse.”2

Lately I have been forcing myself to stop and enjoy the moment. There is an old saying, “it’s not about the destination, but about the journey.” If we are so focused on the destination, we can miss out totally on the whole experience of the journey, full of its lovely little moments in time.  Nanette Mathews writes, “if you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? Slow down and enjoy the moment you’re in and live your life to the fullest.”3

In my book Surviving and Thriving on the Single Parent Journey, I write about not only surviving the single parent journey, but also thriving through it.  Yes, the single parent journey isn’t an easy one, but we can thrive and even enjoy it if we choose to.

So how can we enjoy the moment that we are in?

Focus on the present

Often we are so focused on working towards the future, we forget to enjoy the present and what that is offering us. Changing our mind-set to focus not only on the future but the everyday too can help with this.

Slow down and stop!

Sometimes we can feel guilty for slowing down or stopping to enjoy things. We start to think about all the things that need to be done.  But it’s ok to stop and enjoy life, just like I did that day in my hotel room.  For 15 minutes I sat, I watched and enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation.  Out of all the things I did that day, this was what I remember. The things that ‘need to get done’ will still be there after we have enjoyed a moment or two.

Remember time is short

I blinked and my children were grown up and had left home. As parents, we can put our heads down and work, work, work to raise our children; then we look up and wonder where the time has gone as we wave goodbye to them when they leave home! At that point we desperately want all that time back to spend with them again. Pausing to look at things from a different perspective might help us realise that taking time in each day to spend quality time and create happy memories with our children is so important. Cherish every moment that you have with them, as one day they will be gone.

Be intentional

There are times in my everyday life that I have to choose to make family/friends a priority. When we are tired, busy or have a lot on our minds, it can be more difficult. However, I can honestly say that when I am intentional and make an effort, it has its rewards.

Sometimes being intentional means putting time aside to spend with loved ones. Other times it can be as simple as stopping for a moment in our busy day when our child comes up to us whilst we are busy with a task and giving them a cuddle and a word of encouragement, or catching their smile and smiling back. It’s the little moments in life that make a difference.

Have fun – laugh together

We all know that life can be serious, we have bills to pay, houses to clean and children to look after. However, wouldn’t it be a shame if having fun with our children was lost in it all? Many of my memories of growing up were of having fun and laughing together.  We want our children to be able to cope with the serious issues in life, but also want to give them many memories of fun and laughter. “Making time to laugh and play can boost your health. Experts say that laughter increases endorphins, strengthens your immune system, and sends extra oxygen coursing through your veins.”4

Enjoy nature

My favourite place to go and relax is the beach. I love listening to the sound of the waves and walking barefoot on the beach.  We will each have our favourite place and they will all be different.  Take time to enjoy the details of life.  Smell the air, listen to the sounds around, stop and let the wind blow on your face, enjoy the view, watch the clouds change shapes or enjoy that amazing sunset in the evening. Research has also found that spending time by the sea is good for your wellbeing, so stopping and enjoying nature around can be incredibly beneficial.5 An old proverb says, “you should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

Be grateful

Whenever I take the time to stop, relax and enjoy the moment, I feel better. I am happier and less stressed. Many times I will stop and just look around me and think of things that I am thankful/grateful for, which helps for a positive mental attitude.

References:

1- https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/enjoy-the-moment, Debasish Mridha, Enjoy the moments quotes, accessed: 13/6/19

2- https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/looking-after-yourself/take-time-out/ , Take Time Out, by Young Minds, accessed: 04/06/19

3 – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/live-life-to-the-fullest ,  Nanette Mathews, Life To the Fullest quotes, accessed 13/6/19

4 – https://www.readersdigest.ca/health/healthy-living/laughter-is-good-medicine/ , Laughter Is Good Medicine, by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, accessed: 04/06/19

5 – https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-beach-does-your-brain-ncna787231 , What the beach does to your brain- Science says the surf and sand does the mind (and body) good. Here’s how to reap the benefits of all that ‘vitamin sea. July 29, 2017, 7:35 PM GMT+1 / Updated July 16, 2018, 2:02 AM GMT+1   by Christina Heiser, accessed: 04/06/19