I heard my 3 year old daughter coughing at about 7 AM on Saturday morning, and I knew. I knew it meant she was about to throw up. I briefly ignored it, and tried to pretend it wasn’t going to happen. But it did, and the next thing I knew, we were comforting our little girl and stripping the sheets from her bed. After we changed her pajamas and got her settled comfortably on the couch with a large bowl by her side, I started canceling our plans for the day.
The weather was beautiful, and at first I was totally bummed to be spending the entire day in the house. But as I watched my daughter, it was clear that she didn’t have the energy to do anything, and we didn’t want to risk infecting any of our friends with whatever nasty little bug had invaded my daughter’s body.
So, we stayed in our pajamas, and stayed put. I can’t remember the last time we spent the entire day at home; usually we’re off to ballet lessons or the grocery store or the zoo or a play date with friends. Instead, we read books and played with stickers and watched a movie and put baby dolls to bed and just hung out. We ate together; I made lentil soup and my husband roasted some veggies. At the end of the day, as the sun was setting, we put the girls in the stroller in took them out for a walk for some fresh air. After they were in bed, I realized, much to my surprise, that we had had a great day, with very few tantrums (by either the girls or me!), despite being inside with no plans the whole time.
Then it hit me. Maybe the reason we had such a nice day was precisely because we had nothing planned. As soon as I realized that my daughter was sick, I knew that my day would be spent tending to her, not worrying about chores and to-do lists and rushing out the door. I didn’t need to be anywhere else, doing anything else. I was just happy to be with my family, in the moment, not worrying that we should be accomplishing something or doing something differently—the essence of mindfulness.
I know these days off aren’t going to happen every week (although perhaps they should), but maybe I can start to create a mini-breaks in our day, perhaps in the afternoon after daycare. I can be more mindful about putting away my iPhone, letting go of my worries about getting everything done, and just being present with my daughters, with whatever they want to do.
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Last reviewed: 15 Oct 2012