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Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Most Important 20 Minutes


© Staci Stallings

Kids today are scattered. They are overloaded with activities and schoolwork that push peace right out of the picture. They are expected to solve 25 problems in 45 seconds, read 120 books in 180 days so they can win a prize, run faster, sell more, play better than everyone else from five counties over. Then they jump in the minivan, study all the way to the next activity. They aren't living. They are just trying to hang on long enough to get to the next big thing.

Of course they learned this lesson from us-their parents. We work long hours, sit in traffic frantically trying to make just one more cell phone call, and pencil meetings into the very last edge of our calendars. I'm not sure what we're afraid we'll miss, but we're bound and determined not to miss whatever it is. When we don't volunteer, we get volunteered to take the team to the next game, to be homeroom mothers, to chair the latest Carnival, to make cookies for the Band bake sale. Sure, our parents did the same, but they lived in towns where there were two Carnivals a year-not one for each of the seven different groups we're affiliated with. In all this chaos, time to be a family-much less to just "be" has evaporated.

Long before I had kids, I recognized this phenomenon in the parents and the students where I taught. "Building a resume" many called it. What they were really doing was trading their life now for some distant fantasy life that they had heard would be on the horizon. Reality is, the life out there on the horizon is nothing more than a mirage. Once you get there, through college and to a job, you won't have more time, you simply start over where your parents left off.

No, the truth is that living life must be more important NOW or it will never be important. That's what I'm trying to teach my kids. I try to teach them that in a million ways every day-by helping them learn to limit the activities to only those that are essential to who they are, by saying no to groups that it would be nice to be a part of but that I know I don't have time for, by choosing very carefully what I say yes to. All of these are part of a peaceful foundation, but the other part is keeping in mind that now is all I have.

That's why in the morning when my kids get out of bed, I make it a point to sit with them in the chair. I try for ten, but even a few minutes just to say, "Good morning" and "I love you" gets the day off to a much more tranquil start. They say the first ten minutes of every morning determine how peacefully or how chaotically the rest of your day will go. That's true, but I will add one more-the last ten minutes of the day also help determine the peacefulness of a life.

I still lie down with my girls at night even though one is eight and one five. We lie together, say our prayers and tell what we're thankful for from the day. It's a very special time. I know they think so too because my eight-year-old brought a picture home the other day. The question was "Where is the best place to pray?" She drew three stick people lying in a bed holding hands.

Bookend your children's day with ten minutes of "just us" time. It will bring a new peacefulness to you and to your kids. Goodness knows our chaotic world needs more of that.

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2 comments:

Tina said...

Staci:
That is so sweet. I still lay down with my daughter at night when we say prayers. No matter how the day has gone, it's great to end it with what is most important.
Tina

Tiffany said...

Staci that is so true about the how 20 minutes can change the mood, the day , and the lives of our children. I'm a morning mom and I know that the morning with my two girls 13 & 9 are special. I try to be there in anyway I can, and then at night it's dad time before bed. They have the most thought provoking talks ever. It is pretty awesome and i know it is sustaining them for a better future as well as they grow.
Great post , glad I stopped by.