This post was contributed to Sparrows + Lily by guest author, Sophia Smith.
“Can we go to the zoo today, mom?”
Your child looks at you eagerly and tugs on your clothes. You look at them distractedly, already overwhelmed with the chores for the day. You check your hectic schedule and shake your head. “Maybe tomorrow.” You pat your little one absently and they settle down against you, hugging your waist and smiling.
Of course you sense disappointment, but you’re mom, and therefore you’re trusted. If you say tomorrow, then that’s how it’s going to be.
But then tomorrow comes, and you’re still rushing, still staring at your schedule, still juggling a million things.
You’re focused on a cleaner house, a better lunch or working hard to provide for your family. By the end of the day, your house is sparkling clean, the food is on the table, the chores are done and the money is in your account.
But also at the end of the day, how common is it for us to realize that we’ve completely forgotten to take time for what matters the most?
I would like to share five practical ways to help you cut out the distractions while encouraging you to focus on the most important things in life!
1. Remember your priorities
When was the last time you called your parents just to see how they were doing? Or hung out with your siblings? When was the last time you sat down with your son or daughter and just played – without distraction? When did you last gather your friends and family for a board game night?
It’s the silliest thing. I work all day every day to make my family’s life better; I pride myself on my loyalty, my passionate desire to give every last scrap of my being to make them happy. I’ll push myself and work until I’m raw if I have to, and yet, that’s not what my family needs or wants from me.
Above all, they want for me to just be there. To offer a smile, to kiss a scraped knee, to hug, to listen. If the house isn’t always perfect, they’ll barely notice.
I encourage you to intentionally focus on what matters. The people you wake up for every morning are far more important than an excessively clean home or overly-filled schedule.
2. Stop focusing on physical possessions
The world is becoming more consumer-oriented each day and we are told that the key to happiness is “stuff.”
We rush to own the newest and best things, not realizing that each new possession binds us. It pushes us into this mindset that money is equal to happiness and that we need new, bigger and better things in order to be satisfied.
But oftentimes, happiness lies in letting go of our consumerist urges and embracing things that really matter. I assure you that your loved ones will appreciate a moment of your time a lot more than material gifts.
3. Be kind to yourself
To be good to others, it’s important to first be good to yourself. Tired, cranky or dissatisfied people are seldom patient and helpful with others. As a mother, it took me a long time to realize that the best way to help my kids is to make some time for myself. Self-care is crucial; you have to do the things that are important to you.
Do you like to snuggle up with a good book and a mug of hot tea? Does working out help you to relieve stress? Set time aside and specifically plan to enjoy those things as often as you can.
I personally love to relax with the scent of lavender oil diffused around me as I relax alone in silence. Make time for your own interests and hobbies and remember to always extend the kindness to yourself that you strive to show to others.
Make time for your own interests and hobbies and remember to always extend kindness to yourself.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
This friend has a cleaner house, that neighbor is a better cook, and that girl from work tells better jokes. But envy doesn’t lead anywhere. It poisons our hearts quicker than we think and we end up in a haze of low self-esteem. We may end up accomplishing things not for ourselves, but out of spite or a desire to show off.
Open up your heart and choose to rejoice with other people. If you admire someone, tell them. Ask them for help if they know better than you. Celebrate the accomplishments and lives of the people around you.
5. Change your mindset
Life is full of choices. Sometimes that choice is huge, like a career that you will pursue. Other times it’s something as small as waking up and choosing to be joyful that day. or choosing to fight and remember what’s important. These little things are what build character.
Remember: No one can influence your own attitude more than you.
Friends, please don’t let the haze of this fast-paced world spin your head and make you lose your way. Press pause. Take your little one to the zoo. Take your parents out to dinner just because. Take time to remember why life is worth living.