Being Present In A Fast Paced World

Greetings! Helle speaking this Tuesday.

I’ve recently returned from my work trip to Great Britian. I did many workshops and lectures for parents and child care professionals, and I talked to numerous parents in between events. Some of you are probably here now on our list- and I welcome you with joy and gratitude!

I always learn a lot myself when I travel and work with people the way I do. I see much joy and love, but I also listen to many concerns regarding parenting issues and the well being and growth of children.

Being Present

Especially one concern seems to stand out: We all truly want to feel more present with our childen. But the question for many parents is: “How can we practice this in such a fast paced world, where we often feel we are behind and too busy?”

The easy answer to this is to really slow down, as already written in this previous newsletter. Beause this inevitably is the very first step.

But it’s of course much more than that. It’s also about embracing and expanding the here and now, and trying to leave out what distratcs you from what you are actually doing. Not all the time, or for hours and hours – but it’s something that can be done as moments of heartfelt presence, many times during the day when you’re with your child.

The Pushchair
A good example could be going for a walk with your child sitting in a stroller or pushchair. In my opinion it shouldn’t even be possible to buy strollers where the child is faced forward, meaning that it faces away from the grown up pushing the stroller. Why not, you may ask?

Let’s imagine you are a 1 year old toddler. You’re sitting in a pushchair. Your mom pushes it forward. You can feel the pace and the air in your face, but you can’t see her. A man walks directly towards you. You don’t know him. You get eye contact when he gets nearer, he passes you, and then he’s gone. Another lady comes running towards you. She’s out of breath, and it makes her look so serious. You are worried that she’s angry. Also she looks at you shortly, and then she’s gone, too. You hear your mother starts talking to someone. People keep passing you by, some are smiling at you, some not, but so many of them look directly at you while passing. You don’t know them. You can hear your mother’s voice, and she sounds like all is fine, but you can’t see who she is talking to. You are alone, but your mother is there somewhere, pushing you forward. You start shutting down and to defocus. You can’t feel safe and curious, because you feel too alone.

So Let’s Try Again:
Now imagine that you sit once more in a pushchair the day after. Today, you are facing towards your mother. Her face lights up your heart. You feel happy. She walks slowly in the park, and you see her smile at you. You start looking around at all the trees in the park, the blue cover on the stroller, your fingers. You practice talking by making joyful outbursts and little words like: “Yes!” “Mom!” “Dog!” When people pass you from behind, you can see them as well as your mother, and you feel reassured. All is good. Your mother interacts with you, and reacts on all the face expressions you make. You can look around with curiousity, because you know where your center is. It’s your mother, and she’s right here with you. Her phone rings in her pocket. Her face expression changes. She takes it out. Looks at it. And puts it right back in the pocket again. She’s back, and she’s right here with you.

Coming home after the first trip to the park, you would likely feel discontent, maybe even lonesome, and a healthy tantrum, calling for love and attention, may build up inside you. Maybe your mother won’t even understand what the fuss is all about, because you just returned from a nice walk to the local park.

Coming home from the second trip, you would likely feel content, reassured and acknowledged as a loved child. You can now continue exploring i.e. the book shelf or all the shoes in the hall way with pure enthusiasm.

Summing up, being present is really about being aware of how we spend the time we spend anyway. It’s leaving out the mechanical (and disconnected) approach to brushing our child’s teeth, wiping it’s mouth clean, going for a walk together, dressing and undressing you child, and so on.

It is instead an invitation to start waking up for just a minute, and see what’s going on in the eyes of our child. It’s about leaving the worries for now, trying to be present, and honouring our child’s need to feel us as a reassuring center.

So now I am wondering: when was the last time you really felt present with your child or your children, and how did this make you feel? What happened- what made you come present?

How can you practice being more present with your children and how would this benefit your relation to your child?

We are eager to hear from you.



Comments (2)

  • janet parsons

    Hello Helle, even sadder is seeing a mother feeding her baby while talking or texting on her mobile. the baby lies looking up at her seeking her notice and the mother is only concerned with the world through a machine.
    One of the last times I was present with my granddaughters was on an evening before Christmas when their parents had to go out and we stayed at home to sew, knit, wrap their parent’s presents and chat about their world. so precious and warm.

    • AnnaF

      Hi Janet,
      thank you very much for reaching out.

      I see your comment as a wish for more connection between the young mothers and their children. And yes, I agree: there is very little awareness in the whole society of today about how and when to be fully present- so we tend to forget it. Many mothers are feeling isolated – it’s a very new identity to take on: all of a sudden to be there fully for somebody else – and often they feel apart from their ‘old’ life and friends. But as I see it, we do have time for both- just not at the same time! And to learn that takes practice and awareness.

      It sounds like you had a very precious and bonding time with your grand children. Memories like that are very important for them on a short and long term basis – and it’s so easy for us to give… Grand mothers are important! 🙂

      All the best,