We live in a world where time is money, time is not on our side, time needs to be micro-managed, where there’s never enough time. I know people who feel like failures if they are not booked up, running from one event to the next, always doing something. And while I like to be active, I am realizing more and more how important it is to just be. To leave room for dreaming, for relaxing, for paying attention solely to the task at hand, without one eye on the clock.
I am definitely not the type of parent who fills my children’s schedules (quite the opposite, in fact), but even still, I realize there are times I rush them when there is just no real reason for it. So lately, I’ve been working on giving them more time, not always hurrying their (rather slow and meandering) toddler feet along. It’s not always practical or logical to do this, of course.
We need to be aware and respectful of other people’s time, and I work at teaching my children this common courtesy. There are many times, though, when, if I really think about, we don’t have to rush. Nothing will go terribly wrong if dinner gets started ten minutes later, or we squeeze one more book in at bedtime.
Just as I am trying to teach my children to be respectful of other’s time, time is a gift I can give to them as well. So often as parents (or partners, friends, siblings, etc.) we feel like the people in our lives require elaborate or out of the ordinary things to make them feel special, when really just giving them our time can be the most special gift of all. The gift of fifteen minutes to sit and listen to a friend who needs to vent, without interrupting or thinking about other things in the back of your mind.
A half an hour spent just watching your children play, acknowledging all the things they delight in showing you with more than just a distracted “uh huh”. Five minutes to simply sit with a loved one, soaking in and being grateful for one another’s presence. Your full attention to a coworker who needs help with a problem. None of these requires anything more than our time – and our willingness to give up that very valuable asset.
Just A Little Patience
It works in other ways as well. We can look at patience as an aspect of time, pausing before we decide to honk our horn or answer for someone else. Let your child marvel at the progress of an ant for fifteen minutes. Match your pace to the pace of your dog during a walk, allowing it to sniff and wag and explore. Take a deep breath and realize that sometimes, we just have to move along in someone else’s current for a while.
Being patient also helps us avoid judging a person or situation before we have all the facts. We may think someone is snubbing us, being rude or ignoring us, when really there are perfectly good explanations we may just not know about yet. We may see issues resolve themselves, and communication clear up, if we just practice a little more patience in our interactions.
We can also give the gift of time to ourselves. Ten minutes to read that last chapter. Five minutes to daydream. Patience with ourselves when we don’t get something right, or make a mistake. Time is one of the most valuable things we have, and yet we chop it into minutes, block it off with schedules, waste it in unproductive or unenjoyable ways. Let’s celebrate each minute. Let’s make them count.