In the decade of private tutors for everything from Latin to baseball and lessons and groups attended by all ages between one week old through the adult child of 25 is it possible to pare back and still actually parent? Or is parenting now synonymous with business; the beautiful moments found only in the minutes between the events, appointments, and obligations. The teachable moment is one of the most powerful devices used in parenting, yet when moments are so few and far between we can quickly see how teaching and parenting simply become non-existent. We must commit to making radically different choices for our family; moving on to the pastures that have less in them so that we can have more together.
If we are “human beings”, why oh, why then do we insist on being such “human doings”. Go, go, go. Do, do, do. The most common answer to “How are you?” is “Busy!”. We are raising a generation of children who do not know how to just, BE, at home with nothing to do. We are creating a madness for them all in the name of “getting better” and rising to the top of whatever the choice is. In the end, is this doing actually productive? Is it healthy? Is it what we were created for? Were we created to be? Or were we created to do? “Mind the gap” is a common statement seen in England in regards to the space between trains and platforms. Parenting children in todays fast paced, screen driven, hyper competitive world requires a “mind the gap” attitude. We are the ultimate protectors of their down time. We are the keepers of the extremely valuable, precious and growingly extinct “space between”. And if we believe in the importance of silence and reflection for personal development that happens in the quiet stillness of “being” then we will “mind the gap”; we will CREATE this restorative space for them in their childhood and then we will GUARD it with our lives.
What would it be like to use the philosophy of Marie Kondo in this situation? How would one “tidy up” a family to clear the way for a parenting experience with better outcomes? We are all able to look at each of our children and list their strengths and their weaknesses. It is easy to identify what needs to be worked on, the personal parenting projects related to each individual child. If that is so, why then, do we get so little done on the journey of parenting them? More often than not, it’s the ever-present dilemma of time. We need the teachable moments to present themselves in order to move forward, but we leave no space in our lives for those moments and continue to question why we are still stuck in the same parenting rut addressing the same issues over and over again. The KonMari method of decluttering has much to teach us in parenting. Taking away those things that do not bring us joy, respect the things that fill your child’s time for what it provides, clearing space for the activities that matter, and choosing activities for the reflection of your state of mind are all concepts that actually do apply to how we commit our personal and family time. Maybe the whittling down takes weeks, maybe it takes months or even a year. But any way you look at it, less (commitments) will equal more (teachable moments), and in a parent’s economy that ultimately means more opportunity to help a child grow, develop and change, becoming the very best of themselves they can be. Let’s set a goal, with our kids in mind. Vow to remove one activity, commitment, or lesson from each child’s schedule in your family. Perhaps after completing the most difficult task of removing the first one, we will begin to actually see the space created, the value added, and then maybe, just maybe it will be easier to remove others that are crowding our parenting and keeping the teachable moments at bay.