The Peaceful Art of Presence

It is more beneficial for everyone involved when you offer 100% of your attention, 50% of the time, than 50% of your attention, 100% of the time. 

Read that again if you need to.

Being fully present is not an easy task these days. Sometimes, it feels like there are a million things screaming for our attention all at once. Learning to navigate a smartphone life where the cares of the entire world are always at the tips of our fingers, mixed in with our own expectations and our children’s needs… phew. It can be a lot.

One of my favorite things about Respectful Parenting is the pressure it lifts off of parents’ shoulders. 

Yep, you read that right:

Respectful Parenting doesn’t add stress to a parent’s life — it removes it.

One example of this is Magda Gerber’s philosophy on caregiving activities. In her book, ‘Dear Parent,’ she suggests that we:

“…be wholeheartedly with a child during the time we spend together anyway. “Refueled” by such unhurried, pleasurable caring experiences, even infants are ready to explore their environment with only minimal intervention by adults.”

Does this always “work?” No. Sometimes, you’ll spend ten minutes at the changing table with your little one, gazing into each other’s eyes as you tenderly provide them with a fresh diaper and your full presence, only to be met with small arms stretched upward when you tell them you need to put them back down on their feet. 

Yet, this does not count as a “loss.” Any time slowed down to be spent in connection is a prize of immeasurable worth. 

It is a skill that must be fought hard to learn in this day and age. But once you put it into practice, you won’t want to go back.  

The coolest part? The art of being fully engaged, without any thoughts racing through our minds of things in the past or the things that will follow is a lesson we can learn — from our children.

They are masters in being in the moment. So, as you provide them with the space to sink deep into their thoughts, their observations and their play, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to join them in those peaceful places by unraveling your tight schedule, and watching through eyes of wonder. 

Those moments are the ones that allow us to refuel. 


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