Oh, the next step. It gets me every time.

Justin is finally eating more than just ham and cheese (WOOP!) but instead of celebrating, I’m planning the next food he needs to love, I’m thinking he needs to use cutlery more -he is 21 months old.

It’s summer break, and I have decided mornings are a no-rush zone. My kids help themselves to breakfast, or maybe I make pancakes. I turn on the Nespresso, then throw the ball to our dog Mimi while sipping slow sips of pure joy, watching Justin run towards the trampoline.

But it is a conscious effort to create this no-rush thing, and to keep it so.

My natural tendency is to have everyone dressed and fed by 8, table cleared, and children sitting properly working on their cursive writing. I know, I’m intense!

Then getting things checked off my never-ending list of post office runs, supermarket shopping, garage decluttering, photo framing, gardening, you name it.

But, no.

I force myself  into awareness of my own thoughts, and shift my mindset. I pause before the next step and turn that ship around.

What would it look like to be present now, in this moment? What would it look like to actually give undivided attention to my 4 little people?

So, I join Justin on the trampoline in my pjs; we fall over and giggle and sing songs and soon the other 3 are joining us.

It looks like letting my 10-year-old create breakfast and make a mess, just to see her so proud to cook eggs and bacon and hot tea all by herself. And then bring it all, teetering on a plate and tray upstairs to her sleeping dad.

It looks like saying yes a lot more.

I prevent the automatic, pre-programmed ‘no’ and just say YES.

Can we go to the pool? yes.

Can we have chips before lunch? yes.

Can I have a friend for a sleepover? Yes.

Can I go play at my friend’s house? Yes and yes and more yes!

Because dangit! My summers as a kid were not organized!

I’d ride my bike, go on adventures, use a hammer and nails to make a raft and pretend I was riding waves. I’d pick wild flowers and blueberries and my mom would arrange pretty bouquets and bake pies with my treasures.

She never told me what to do. I could come and go, and there was so much joy in that.

It is so good for my soul. I release control and let my children be; they and explore their own hearts’ desires.

As a result I have bought hammocks, board games, outside paint, the whole collection of Harry Potter books, soil and plants and seeds. And I make sure we never run out of bacon, eggs and tea.

As a result I get more eye contact, more hugs, more tickles and giggles, I get to hear more silly stories my older two made up, and because I am more relaxed, something magical is happening.

I hear a lot more laughter, jokes, I hear a lot more silence from content children diving deep into a book. I hear more big questions about life and the smallest things while we drive, or go on hikes or sit around the house.

But it means leaving the dishes in the sink, socks on the floor, and laundry piling up. It means skipping  a shower because I missed the magical window when that would have been possible.

It means less of me, and more of them. Less worry and more fun. Less checking off items on a never-ending list and more spur-of-the-moment experiences.

As I am typing this, a friend of Simon is sleeping over, and everyone is dreaming of the pancakes we will have for breakfast.

I am filled with gratitude for a slower summer, reconnecting with the short humans who fill my days, heart & life.

The souls God trusted me to love and raise, nurture and guide.

And I intend to do a damn good job at it.

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