The other day my 5-year old daughter and her friend wanted to go for a picnic on their own. Her older brothers and their friend had been on a bicycle picnic earlier that day and now the girls wanted to do the same. I realized that even though they know how to ride a bike I was not willing to let them leave on their own.
So instead I suggested that they could have a picnic in the garden. They happily agreed. We packed some cinnamon buns and lemonade in a basket. They also wanted to bring some favorite toys in a play pram.
Ready for an adventure they set off into the garden. After a while, I could hear them chatting and laughing behind some bushes. Having laid out a blanket on the grass and now enjoying their picnic.
An hour passed by until they were back from their adventure. Quite content. As was I. Small things like this help you appreciate everyday life. Seeing the world through children’s eyes can make even the smallest adventure become big.
Children don’t need the grand things that cost a lot of money. They are happy if they get your devoted attention. Giving your time is a much more valuable gift than spending money.
Spending time in nature is soothing for everyone. Even children feel the stress of today’s world and for them, it can be a relief to enter a forest. Sets their imaginations free. In nature, an old log could be anything. A ship, a train, a bone from a dinosaur. Childrens’ amusement parks leave little room for fantasy.
So how do we find and appreciate these small adventures? How can we pause our busy lives enough as to start noticing the world around us? We need to become aware. Aware of the present moment. Be mindful. Mindfulness.
But what does this mean? How do we accomplish that? I haven’t read a book or taken a course on mindfulness. But I’ve given it a lot of thought. Start by observing everything you do. When you spread butter on bread for breakfast. How does the butterknife feel in your hand? Watch the butter as you spread it with the knife. How does the butter feel? How does it smell? Register the sound that comes from spreading butter on the sandwich.
This is just an example. I’m not saying that you need to contemplate every little thing you do during the day. Start with a few. Doing things shouldn’t take longer time. You should simply be more present and increase your awareness.
Family dinner around the kitchen table is a very good place to start. Everyone is gathered. Enjoy your meal thoroughly. Chew every bite enough times to actually feel the texture and taste. Eat slowly and engage in conversation with your family members.
Try not to talk about things that they need to do after dinner. If the kids need to pack their clothes for gym class the next day there is no point in bringing that up at the beginning of the meal. Wait until you’ve finished eating.
Start today! Right now! Become aware of any feelings and thoughts you might have after reading this blog post. If you want to, please share in the comments below.
Keep in mind that the smallest adventures can become the greatest!
Photo: Anna Henricson