Nicole Minnaar is a mom of 3 young girls, with a passion for parenting and a deep desire to see children flourish and achieve their full potential. As with all of us, she has found that the busyness and pressures of the everyday can sometimes get in the way of this dream and is constantly exploring ways to ensure that she avoids this in her own life. She has shared some of her thoughts and her journey here with us on this blog.
We are currently inundated with articles on ‘mindfulness’, an approach to life based in Buddhism and often coupled with both yoga and meditation. Mindfulness is about making a choice, over and over again, to pay attention to whatever is happening in the present moment, without judging it or wishing it was different. Too often, we, as Christians, shy away from all things based upon other religions – we should not be that close-minded in our outlook on life. I recently read an article on parenting in the same vein and was really challenged on how I deal with my own family.
We live in an age of technology; of cellphones and tablets, computers and TV’s, and we manage to fill our lives with so much distraction – what are the implications on our children and our spouses? In Ecclesiastes 9:9-10, Solomon’s words exhort us to, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love” and in Psalms 127:3-5 David reminds us that children are, “a gift from the Lord.” Are we prepared to disconnect from what vies for our attention in order to be present for our families, to ‘love our wives’ and enjoy ‘our gifts from God’?
As a mother of 3 girls, I constantly feel pulled in many different directions over the course of a day; trying desperately to remember who needs to be where at what time and coordinating all their schedules in order to be available to attend to each of their requirements. This is a constant battle as parents, where the demands on our time seem to far exceed the amount of time we have in a day. It is so easy, in the midst of rushing around, to forget to make the most of our time together and to be present in the moment. One of the reasons that I chose to stop working was so that I could be more available for my children, as the demands of clients was interfering with my frame of mind, making parenting a chore that had to be done. Since changing my attitude and seeing the benefits of being able to run them around, I have seen a huge impact on both my relationship with them and my sense of worth. While this is not always a possibility or desirable for all parents, the things I learned through the experience are applicable to all. We are challenged by God’s word to, “train up a child in the way he should go…” and yet we sometimes listen with half an ear to the stories they have to tell, rather than engaging with them fully and helping them to dissect a situation or see things from another perspective. We miss opportunities to guide them and teach them the ways that God sees the world.
How often do you see families or couples out to dinner where one or all of them are busy on their phones? If our children learn so much by time spent with us and by observing us in our everyday lives, what are we teaching them? What examples are we setting for them? Are we making them feel less valued by not giving them our full attention or if all we can offer them are stolen moments from our busy day? Are we giving messages to them that say they are not interesting enough to hold our attention? These behaviours replicate themselves in areas beyond technology too, for instance the father ‘enjoying’ time at the dinner table at the end of a day, not really hearing a word that is being said as he grapples in his mind with the demands and problems relating to his work. What message is given when we turn on a television or even open a book. While it is important for us to take time out to rest and relax, we need to turn to God for the strength (and often the patience) to give our all to our families so that we do not miss the opportunities that He provides for us to build on what he has already given to us.
5 Resolutions for 2017
Very often we start off the New Year with huge goals of success and greatness, my challenge to us all this year, is to set our sights a little more closely to home. Let’s actively choose to:
- Have less screen time
- Have more family dinners around the table
- Invest time with those in our lives – spouses, children, parents, friends
- Be less distracted
- Have more meaningful and purposeful conversations with our loved ones