Contributed by Jody McVittie

Have you heard these words recently? “We don’t have enough time to…” “I don’t have time for this.” “We are going to be late!” “It is time to…” I hear these words coming out of my own mouth and out of the mouths of many of the families I work with. I’m fascinated with the language that describes our relationship with time. I can “make time,” “spend time,” “manage time,” “have time” (or not), or… things are “time consuming” or “time-wasting.”

The sense of time as a finite consumable is an adult construction. My hunch is that our relationship with time creates quite a bit of stress for ourselves and others.

I don’t claim any expertise here. I’m writing because I feel a bit tangled in time myself. So what follows are just observations and places to explore. Can thinking about time differently reduce stress? If you are about to embark on spring break, how could a different sense of time shift your perspective?

Some thoughts:

Our children have a different sense of time. Young children, especially, live in the present. They care more about your presence and connection than about what “needs” to be “done.” What kind of richness might we find in that perspective?

When we play or are having fun we use different expressions for time. In some ways we tend to flow with time instead of trying to manage it. What makes play different? What could we do to play at life?

What do I really want? When I ask myself that question there is a flippant inner voice that says, “All of course!” It is my own way of avoiding the process of reflecting on what really matters to me. It is easier not to think about this question. But even a fluid answer would give a me a useful compass.

What would be a baby step to begin to change my relationship with time – so that I could live a little more in the present moment, feel a little more gratitude for what is instead of paying attention to what needs to be done, feel more spaciousness, or experience a sense of truly being with those I love?

What helpful questions do you use to begin to untangle time and reduce stress? What is helpful in your family? Leave us a comment – in your own “time.”

Photo credit: adesigna
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