My son came home from Scouts last night and he had a story to tell me. But I was busy on my computer finishing up a project I had promised a big group. I have a few deadlines looming over me this month. And I felt the pressure to keep going and working, even though it was late and my son was asking to connect with me.

Though I made a vow to myself many years ago that whenever my kiddos walked through the door, I would pause whatever I am doing and give them my presence, I didn’t pause long enough to really hear his story.

“Just a moment,” I said after I hugged him.

The thought going on in my head was, “I have to get this done.”

I have to.

I have to.

His arm had been around my neck as I sat at the computer, too late to really be working.

“I’ll see you upstairs,” he said and left. He wasn’t mad or upset.

But I felt it. There was an opportunity to connect with my growing son, and I could have dropped what I was doing to hear his story and connect with him. But I didn’t.

As he walked upstairs and I heard my husband with both kiddos getting everyone in bed, I pressed “save” on my document and closed the computer.

“Enough,” I said.

I wasn’t going to make any huge headway on this project in the next fifteen minutes. But what would make a huge difference in those fifteen minutes???

Being with my kiddos. Tucking them into bed. Hearing their stories before bedtime.  I got clear on what mattered more in that moment.  I got clear on what I was choosing.

While there are indeed times when we do need to work and let go of the guilt of “always being present” with our dear ones, there are times when we are working just way too hard and too much.

When one of our dear ones has a story to tell us, pause and see if this is one of those moments when THEY are giving YOU a gift.

A gift to pause.

A gift to connect.

A gift to slow down and take a break from all the hard work you do.

A gift to drop the “have to.”

A gift to let go of old beliefs that do not serve you (or make you more productive or bring you closer to feeling fulfilled and happy!).

A gift to actually enjoy your life and the people in it.

Last night was one of those moments.  My son was giving me a gift.  He wasn’t a distraction.  He was a gift — a gift of slowing down, letting go of working so hard and too late, a gift of time to connect and savor this life.

I get it — there are many times when it feels like all day long we are responding to someone’s request of us.  Everyone wants our attention and presence. NOW!  And there are times when we do indeed need to carve out that time to keep doing what we are doing.  The deadline does have to be met.  Dinner does have to be made.

So, I didn’t have a picture of bedtime, but I do have a picture of my son and I fully present in our recent experience of parasailing! The look on our faces is how it FEELS when we make a choice and we are fully present. Less guilt, more joy!

Two Soul-Nourishing Habits for Less Guilt and More Joy
  1.  Get clear on what you are choosing.  You’ll have a lot less guilt about “work time” and “mom time” when you are clear about what  you are choosing.  I see this in myself and in my clients — what drains us and causes a lot of guilt is when we aren’t clear with, “I am choosing to do this right now.” But instead, we try to DO IT ALL in the very same moment.  Get clear on “I’m choosing this.” If it’s work – choose work.  If it’s making dinner – make dinner (and let everyone know this is what you are doing!). And if it’s being with your kiddos – be with your kiddos.
  2. Be where you are.  Fully. What drains us and causes a lot of guilt is what I call “multi-presence.”  Beyond “multi-tasking,” multi-presence is when we are trying to give our presence to too many people and projects at once.  When you make a choice about how you are spending your time, then BE WHERE YOU ARE.  This helps you to balance work with connection.  Moments of connecting on holy ground.  Moments of pausing.  Moments of seeing our dear one’s bid for connection as an opportunity to stop and savor, stop and enjoy, this life.

What are the BENEFITS of Making a Clear Choice & Being Fully Present?

– You’ll be a heck of a lot more productive.

– You’ll feel a lot LESS guilt.

– You’ll nourish your nervous system.

– You won’t feel like a crappy parent, wife, mom, friend, etc.

– You’ll have less resentment.

– You’ll experience more joy.

– You’ll feel more confident because you are making choice to lead the life you want to live.

Last night, I chose to stop working and go upstairs.  I tucked my daughter into bed.  She had had a big day and was out in just a few minutes.  I went into my son’s bedroom.  “You wanted to tell me a story,” I said to him.  “I’d love to hear it now.”  He put down the new book he was reading that he had been really excited to read.  And he told me a story of his accomplishments tonight at Scouts.  I listened intently.  I had made my choice.  My choice:  it mattered more to be fully present with my son than getting two paragraphs written in those fifteen minutes.  And because I made a choice, I could be fully where I was — listening to and connecting with my son.

He gave me a gift last night — a gift for me to make a choice and get clear on what I was choosing.  And that gift opened up an opportunity for me to experience less guilt and more joy.

In working with so many people in life coaching and psychotherapy, I hear about what drains us and what causes a lot of guilt that we end up carrying around ALL DARN DAY!  When we make a choice and we give our full presence to that person or activity, we are making a choice to carrying around a lot less guilt and experience a lot more joy.  Try it out and let me know how it goes for you!

* Another post you might enjoy – Be their sanctuary – building resiliency in our children.

* Check out my meditations that can support you living with less guilt (stress, decision-fatigue, overwhelm) and more joy (presence, contentment, kindness).  I’ve sorted them in my shop for you!


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