Did you see the news article about a woman in Spain who spent 500 days in a cave all alone? Were you jealous? I think most women of a certain age have longed to run away and hide in a cave and have some honest-to-goodness quiet time.
Most of us can’t do that. No matter how appealing the idea, most of us have reasons (children) that mean we can’t just drop everything and hide for over a year.
So, what can we do?
Lately, I have a goal of being more quiet and intentional in small doses. This sounds simple, but it isn’t natural for me.
I’ve had 3 kids for nearly 14 years now. That means I spent many years of my life multitasking just to keep everyone alive. I have clear memories of caring for a baby in a sling while entertaining a toddler in a high chair and teaching math to my oldest—all at once! And it didn’t get easier for many years. Someone always needed something. My time and attention were often split between 2 or 3 kids. I couldn’t cook or clean without also keeping an eye on my little angels who could turn feral at any moment.
So, if you are still in that stage of life, know that I know that you might not be able to apply today’s wisdom very well. Keeping kids alive is hard work. Trying to turn them into functional, happy, whole people is monumental and not for the faint of heart. To get a few minutes of quiet, I used to need to leave the house and get away from the kids. My husband watched them while I went to a knitting night with friends. It helped.
I have also realized that the constant flow of information, games, distractions, entertainment, and even the phone if my pocket is a source of stress. I’m multitasking now too much. I’m trying to text a friend, talk to my kid, and decide what we will have for dinner. It is too much.
So, I am working to do just one thing at a time. If I’m talking to my kid, the phone and computer are off and out of sight. If I’m doing the dishes, I’m JUST doing the dishes. I’m not doing the dishes while also thinking about 100 things. When you have ADHD, that isn’t easy. It means you have to treat the dishes like an act of meditation. You have to talk to your brain about what you are doing right now. “Hey, I love this dish! I should wash it by hand. I’ll put the pots in the dishwasher instead.”
I’m working on intention. I’m intentionally listening to music. I’m intentionally taking time to craft. When I cook, I’m trying to enjoy the act of cooking and think about the wonder of how my foremothers spent so much time doing food preparation. I’m trying to slow down.
This is not easy.
Our modern lives are set to a high-speed, multitasking mode of operation. It is not easy to say NO to all of that. It takes a lot of effort to put away the distractions and slow down.
When my kids were little, we had afternoons where I slowed down and took them out to play. We went and explored the woods or a stream. We read a story in a hammock. We stopped everything to sit on our deck and paint with watercolors. Those were their quiet moments. Away from our house full of toys and screens begging for attention.
Now, my kids are teens, and it is a bit harder to help them slow down. I’m working on it though. I’m trying to set an example. I’m trying to share the idea that you can feel satisfied with doing a good job at one thing at a time. It isn’t easy. They are also neurodiverse and their brains are demanding input. But we are trying.
Finding The Time
I think that is the wisdom of the Cave Woman. She was happy. She lost track of time. She said she could have stayed in that cave all alone for a lot longer. While she was there, she read books, knitted, and just took care of herself. She didn’t listen to the news or worry about the world’s problems.
It is so very important to care for ourselves. To take time for yourself. You deserve time to read a good book. Give yourself time to knit, crochet, sew, craft, or whatever you enjoy. Give yourself the gift of some of your time.
Take things slowly. Instead of trying to do everything, all at once, slow down. When you make your morning cup, just do that one thing. Instead of making coffee while also doing the dishes, reading the news, and planning your day, just have coffee. Take that first sip and let yourself relax for a few minutes before you have to start your day. If all you can carve out each day is a few minutes, give those to yourself.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.