4 Simple Ways to Celebrate the Present

One of the best ways to show your true colors as a parent and experience the first signs of embarrassment within your child is to have a family dance party in the kitchen before bedtime. Her expressions just kill me in these photos.

Darrin turned his iPod to shuffle and we bounced and swayed and grooved like the unabashed dancers that we’ve always been, listening to songs that took our minds right back to our high school days together, our college days together, and the many others after and in between.

Time becomes a mysterious and funny thing when you have a baby. The past and the future become something like two different marinades competing for attention in the crockpot of your day. At one hour you’re eager for the future, to see her reach every milestone and become her own person and hope that her hair starts growing a bit faster, poor girl. And the next hour you find yourself aching for the past, wishing that those tiny baby feet would somehow stay tiny and forever fit into those baby jammies.

We’ve been trying to make more of an effort in our family to celebrate the present. To recognize the blessings we’ve been given and find joy in life’s “mundane” moments. Some days can be harder than others. But living each hour in a state a gratitude seems to make each hour more meaningful.

Here are 5 simple ways that we’ve tried celebrating the present in our family:

  1. Take Time to Ignore the Piles: Piles of laundry, piles of dishes, piles of toys, piles of “to-dos” on the to-do list. Sometimes I spend my present moment thinking about how quickly I need to eliminate all of these “piles” so that I can finally find a moment to rest. But the piles never seem to end, no matter how efficiently I work. Sometimes its best to just ignore the piles. To remind those ever-pressing piles of to-dos that they do not control you, your mind, or your time. Ignoring the piles often times makes room for a celebration of the present.
  2. Turn Off Your Phone: There’s nothing wrong with recording and documenting life’s moments. I love capturing our family outings or events throughout our day. But when the need to post and share and tag starts overtaking your ability to enjoy and and experience the present moment, then maybe it would be best to turn off our phones. Save the post or picture for later. As much as I love technology, I also know that enjoying my present circumstances means actually experiencing them rather than spending most of that moment posting about them.
  3. Look for the Beautiful: Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to celebrate the present. Especially when those ordinary tasks of the present seem so…ordinary. If I’ve learned anything from my baby, its how easy it is for her to see everyday objects as something extraordinary. Sure, I may no longer stare in wonder at a spoon for 30 minutes, but when did we lose our desire to seek out the beautiful? Have my responsibilities snuffed out my ability to find beauty in the ordinary? If we purposefully look for the beautiful in the mundane (in the way your dog eagerly chases after his ball, the sound of your friend laughing at a joke, the way the sun hits those trees you drive past every morning…), we’re bound to find it.
  4. Slow Down: Recognizing the beauty that we find in our present circumstances requires us to slow down long enough to actually appreciate that beauty–to pause and reflect with a grateful heart rather than rush towards the next task, event, milestone, or season. I consider myself an efficient person: someone who knows how to work effectively in order to accomplish many things in a short amount of time. Makes me sound more like a machine than a person, doesn’t it? I am constantly reminding my myself (and my brain) to slow down. To focus on the beauty right in front of me. And to dance in the beauty of the present.

Babies make time so much more potent. And remind us not to forget the importance of finding joy in the present. Of sometimes ignoring the laundry piled on your bedroom floor or those emails in your inbox that seemed to be piled just as high because how fast it goes by, they say, which makes these kitchen dance parties suddenly seem imperative. Our own little celebration of what has been, what will be, and the chunky baby in our arms who is.

In what ways do you slow down and celebrate the present? I’d love to hear them and add them to my list!

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