How can I slow down time? No, we can’t really stop time or turn it back for that matter. Unfortunately. But there are steps we can take to be more present in our lives and find joy in more moments.
“The time goes by so fast,” followed by parenting advice was the number one thing people repeated when I went public on being pregnant. To be honest, I was really tired of hearing it. I kept wondering why people stated something that seemed negative instead of an excited, “Congratulations!”
Now that I’m 5 years into this, I couldn’t agree more. I find myself telling people the same thing, and then almost grabbing my mouth when I realize I’m doing the same thing to their enthusiasm of a new child on the way that others did to mine. But you may as well go into it with realistic expectations and expecting time to FLY by once you become a parent is realistic.
I wasn’t sure what happened. I used the same clocks I used during the B.C (before children) years. They seemed to move pretty slowly or just the right speed back then. Once I had kids, it seems the fast-forward button is stuck!
After some research, I found that the reason time seems to speed up actually has to do with aging and the messages our brain sends to us about its perception of our time. If you are interested in the explanation, you can find an in-depth description here.
This realization made me inquisitive. Is there a way to live that will slow down my perception of time? I set out on a research mission. There are many tips for slowing down time. I am going to share the ideas that helped my family the most. I believe these practices can work for your family as well.
How to Slow Down Your Perception of Time
1. Be Present in the Moment
In order to be present in the moment, you have to practice the art of mindfulness. It is almost as if we are at war with our minds trying to get them to focus on what is happening right now instead of thinking about the past or the future or whatever else is blurring the present experience.
When you are present in the moment you take control of your thoughts instead of letting them control you. You pay attention to what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Don’t judge it. You have no goal in mind. You just roll with it.
To find out more about being present, The Art of Now: 6 Steps to Living in the Moment is a beneficial article. This is not something that you master in one day. This is a skill where the more you practice the better you become.
2. Go Into Nature
When you go into the great outdoors, there are no clocks. There are only the sights and sounds of Mother Nature speaking to you and acknowledging your presence. When you take a walk or get out into the woods, live with a childlike curiosity. Stop to watch the insect crawl. Notice the sky. Find the bird that is creating that tweet. Be in the moment with no expectations of your surroundings. Be cognizant of what they offer you and be grateful.
Once you find an object of interest, focus on it for a minute or two. Observe it as if it is the first time you have ever experienced this object. Explore the object’s formation, then allow yourself to connect with its purpose in nature and with its energy. Do this for as long as your concentration will allow.
You can apply this practice in any environment such as your neighborhood, your job, your church, the restaurant you go to for lunch, anywhere.
3. Sing, Play Music or Chant
Choose some music. Allow yourself to be fully aware of all of the dynamics of the music. Do not think about whether or not you like or dislike the music. You explore and listen for the instruments trying to decide which are playing. You hone in on the vocals and listen for the range and tones of the voice. Try to hear if there is one voice or more than one voice and separate them out as you do with the instruments. You are not thinking, just hearing.
You can chant any phrase or mantra. Whatever you need to focus on at that moment repeat it. For instance, it can be from
Beyonce, I’m a survivor or This too shall pass, or Feelings are not facts. You can get a PDF of Mantras for Mom’s here.
To find out how you can include your children in the joy of music, read 25 Reasons All Children Should Listen to Music.
4. Do Things That Scare You
Research shows that time seems to drag out for people when they are nervous or scared. This does not mean to put yourself in a dangerous situation. It means for you to try the things in life you haven’t done due to fear. Public speaking, learn how to play tennis as an adult, start a business that will give you the freedom you’ve always craved- those type of plunges. Courage does not mean that you aren’t scared. Courage is facing your fears and doing it scared.
Noticing and learning new things gets us back to reclaiming our beginner’s mind. When you go to work, come home, eat, and watch TV, this is a good recipe to encourage time to fly by. You have to repeat so many tasks day after day. This monotony can dull your thinking until your mind slips into neutral.
Notice things on your way to work that you regularly don’t pay attention to even if it is not pleasant. Just see the electric polls, the hay meadow, the stop sign and its bullet holes, the skyscraper in its entirety. Whatever your drive contains.
When you are at home, become an expert noticer. It doesn’t matter if you’re cleaning, notice the texture and color of the granite, or if you’re doing homework with our child. Focus on what is in front of you. Remember only use your senses. Don’t allow your mind to wonder. Control your thoughts. If you have to, repeat to yourself, “Focus, focus, focus… or Now, now, now…”
Try new places in your area. For example, try new restaurants, a different library, a museum that you ordinarily wouldn’t go to, an art show, a church you don’t regularly attend. Explore your surroundings.
6. Stop Multi-Tasking
Somewhere along the way, I misperceived that you were considered extra-talented if you were a multi-tasker. I thought it to be a good thing to kill two birds with one stone, and I tried my best to master it. I never did especially where cooking is concerned.
When I started This -N- That Parenting and began studying entrepreneurship, I was shocked to learn that multitasking is not a good idea. Instead, self-improvement books suggest you are supposed to choose one thing to do and give all of your attention to that one thing. The thinking behind this is that you do one thing successfully, and it fuels you to do the next. There will be a ripple effect.
If you think your life can’t go on if you don’t multi-task, then there’s a good chance you need to tell some people NO and decide your priorities.
This is just what it sounds like. Unplug from all devices and electronics. To put it bluntly, these are the #1 time sucks for most of us! If you have to be online, the most disciplined say they set a timer and stick to it.
8. Make Plans That You Look Forward To
Research shows that time seems to slow down for us if we have something we are looking forward to. You can schedule things in your day to look forward to. You can plan a trip 2 months in advance and schedule a few things you will do while on vacation, so you that you can anticipate joy. Imagine yourself in the moments to slow down the present.
9. Focus on Breathing
We can use this at any time in our day. It can be beneficial to use when your children trigger a feeling inside of you in which you react in a way you wish you wouldn’t. Instead, when you know they’re doing an action that causes a trigger for you, practice breathing before responding.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Just think about your breathing and allow the thoughts to come and go on their own. Allow them. Acknowledge them, but don’t act on them. Continue for as long as you need.
10. Practice Gratitude
The people who have the most joy take time to practice the most gratitude. Many times this is gratitude in the small things. Try noticing 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated. Each time you find someone or something else to add to your list, take a moment to think about it or them. What is the relationship to you? What role does it play in your life? Does it benefit you? What would your life be like without it? Maybe you need to tell someone, “Thank you,” or send up a prayer of thanks.
Call to Action
Without a doubt, the best way to teach your children these practices is to include them in them all day long and model them every time you get the chance. After putting these practices into our daily lives Jock and Luke can definitely be described as Noticers. They are noticeably present. In fact, people who are in our presence often times comment on how observant and happy the boys are. I chalk this up to the fact that we’re LIVING!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about slowing downtime, and it would be nice to hear from you after you give some of the above ideas a try. How did it go? How has it changed your “normal” way of living? Comment!
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Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours! Remember to have fun, laugh and give God the glory! I love you! SS