If you have little ones, you know what I mean when I say that I have no idea how a person could change so gradually and so quickly, all at the same time. A while back I was staring at our two kids, mind blown by how much has changed in such a relatively short amount of time. I was right in the middle of maternity leave and time felt like it was speeding up to a pace that I couldn’t keep up with. I had this overwhelming desire to freeze time right where it was.
Then something popped into my head that I’d heard a college professor say in some kind of family studies course I took my junior year. She was comparing the perception of time between children (who seem to feel that waiting for mom to pour a glass of milk takes approximately 6 years) and adults, who feel like decades seemingly fly by faster and faster the older they get.
The point the professor made was basically this. Children perceive time moving slowly because everything is brand-new to them. Their brain is trying to take in as much information as possible and save all of that info to use later. They are busy paying attention to every detail and I’d assume that could make the days seem long.
Alternatively, as we get older we learn to filter out all of the mundane details and skip ahead to what we need to think about or pay attention to. There are times that I feel like my mind is racing ahead of me to the next topic or the next task and my body is just stumbling behind to catch up. And I’ve got to be honest, technology makes it SO much worse. There’s nothing that can suck a few hours into a vacuum the way social media can..
I almost started to panic over how fast life was speeding by, but that day I decided to use the trick that this college professor presented to slow the pace down a little. Take a tip out of my two-year-olds playbook and PAY. ATTENTION.
This is harder than it sounds. Seriously, try it. At first, I was trying to pay attention to everything, and I came to the conclusion that my adult brain is just no longer set up that way. So instead, I’ve made it my early New Year’s resolution to spend some time every day noticing details, usually during time spent with my kids.
In my head (because it sounds cheesy when you say it out loud), I call these times “moments to memorize.” When I put my daughter to bed, I try to memorize how her voice sounds, the sweet little things she says, the smell of her hair after bath time. When I get my son up in the morning, I try to memorize his little dimples and his awesome hairline and his chubby fingers.
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Not only has this exercise seemed to make these precious moments with my family last longer, it also makes me feel like I can hold on tighter to important memories.
Do this when you get alone time, too. Listen to what’s going on around you. Notice how the air smells. Pay extra close attention to the way your coffee tastes. I’m telling you, it really does help to slow down time when you most want it to.
My mind is at full capacity most of the time, especially since I’ve gone back to work. But there are moments worth the effort of throwing out the extraneous stuff and focusing on the details of the people and the experiences that mean the most to you. Take in your surroundings and the people you love. All of that other crap will wait.
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