Billy Joel, the poet laureate of Long Island, NY, wrote about a “storm front coming” and how people respond to it. Storms don’t just occur in Long Island Sound; we often see them brewing right in our own homes. Sometimes the warning signs are whining or verbal sparring. There’s an old adage that when children whine, trouble is gathering off in the distance.
At other times, behavior that was okay yesterday can feel annoying to us today, as caregivers or parents. This is a sign that we need to notice our own approaching storm fronts, too. When we ignore the early waves and plunge through choppy waters, we often have a very rocky ride.
After a few of these tiring episodes, many families learn to recognize the signs and seek calmer ways to stay connected and enjoy the day. Young children often slow down and reconnect with snuggling and back rubs, reading a book with us, or holding a favorite lovey. Older children and adults often find it helpful to pet the animals, share a favorite joke, or watch a comfort movie with us or friends.
Reconnecting is not always the same at different ages and in different families. The consistent thread that runs through all the many ways, however, is that really being with our children means being present both physically and emotionally. Sometimes in the hectic pace of everyday life, we can begin to feel and act more like short order cooks than parents and caregivers.
Our days can become filled with a multitude of tasks and activities. Many of these are good things to do. In fact, most of them are; yet if we are to find our own rhythm, we need to create some empty space to enjoy and reflect. As Dutch author Etty Hillesum wrote, “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” When we are centered, we can make ourselves available to our children and stay calm in the midst of chaos.
Sometimes slowing down and reconnecting can be as simple as asking, “It looks like you’re needing a hug; would you like a hug?” Or it could be us letting our partner or kids know that “I need a hug.”
What practices do you incorporate into your life that help you reconnect with yourself? Leave a comment below.