A little bit more.
How are you feeling?
Are you hovering over the exit button, ready to leave this post that seems to be going nowhere (and nowhere slowly – which is even worse than going nowhere fast).
It is so hard to pause.
Trust me – with four boys, I sure understand.
Pause? Are you kidding? If I stop moving, the house will be trashed and the children will be dog-piled in the middle of the living room. Probably with the youngest on the bottom.
Pausing may feel like a luxury. For those with fewer children. Or older children. Or a live-in nanny that is not imaginary (no offense, Olga, you will always be real to me).
But what if we shifted our thinking? And viewed pausing as a tool in our parenting toolbox.
Can we redefine pausing by seeing the value it can add? Actual value in our pace and in relationships with the people who matter most.
In my journey as a Mom, many wins have come from learning about my need to pause.
An understanding of being more present and mindful. Of slowing down. Breathing deeply. Being more intentional.
I firmly believe every parent needs a pause button
Consider adding a pause button to your parenting toolbox for four important reasons.
1. Pausing helps us stay calm
My four-year-old recently threw a bedtime tantrum of epic proportions. And I did not take the bait.
I used to be an official bait taker. Often. But this time I stayed present in the drama and kept my cool.
I breathed deeply and reminded myself that I shouldn’t try to control his emotions.
I consciously pressed pause on all I hoped to accomplish after his usually quick tuck-in. Laundry. Dishes. Quiet time. I challenged myself to stay calm and did Deep Breathing with my raging buddy.
Pausing my ‘to-do list’ was the foundational first step.
He flopped, wailed and raged for 47 minutes. I quietly sat nearby while he worked it out.
In the end he snuggled me and sniffled, “Mom, my sad and mad are gone and I feel happy now.”
I wanted to crawl to a podium and receive a medal for this win (it’s tiring watching our Littles feel all the feelings). This was a huge breakthrough. I have often responded to my children’s anger with my own heat. But this pausing? This felt good.
To quote one of my heros,
I took a three-second pause before I opened my mouth. And that’s where the real beauty happened. Only Love Today
Pausing having babies for a few years also helped my husband and I catch our breath before we had #4. This also contributed to being able to handle big emotions like these more productively than when we had the first three so close together. For us, this was a wise pause.
2. Pausing allows us to model a valuable skill to our children
Experts encourage us to teach children to count and breathe deeply when they are getting upset. Yet after I became a parent I started realizing I was the one who needed to practice calming down.
When we are quick to respond harshly, we add fuel to the fire. What are we teaching if we use words as a weapon? Try this:
Even if you’re already well down the wrong path and you’re yelling, STOP. Take a deep breath and hit the pause button. Close your mouth, even in mid-sentence. Don’t be embarrassed; you’re modeling good anger management. Laura Markham
By pausing, we have a chance to turn an entire situation around. And the little eyes that are watching our every move will be tracking these interactions carefully.
And if we forget to pause and speak carelessly, there is still redemption in modelling a humble apology.
3. Pausing buys us time
Children naturally want what they want when they want it.
And these requests seem to come when we are making dinner, refereeing squabbles or on the phone. Desperate for peace, it can be tempting to acquiesce for the wrong reasons.
For example, one child might say, “Mom can I [insert request]? Please Mom. Why not Mom? Please!!!!!!!” Enter the pause.
I am trying to train my boys with the following response, “If you pressure me for an answer now, it will be ‘no.’ But if you give me ____ minutes to ponder, I may reconsider.” Asserting our right to pause is a valuable tool.
4. Pausing allows us to rejuvenate
Proactive pausing is a life-giving discipline.
It can mean carving out time to do a hobby, booking a coffee date with a friend or curling up with a good book.
When we were engaged, my husband and I also committed to having small annual getaways. Two decades and four children later, we realize that we have often neglected to pause – both together and individually. But being intentional about this practice can replenish the entire family.
Deciding to take a daily pause is an act of courage and kindness. Gift yourself the permission to pause and intentionally shift your behavior to practice some parental self-care and replenish your energy reserves… Rachel O’Meara
Pausing is not something others can do for us. It must be a conscious decision we make for ourselves and our families.
It is only in recent years that I have become more mindful of the importance of pausing. And I have seen the impact it can have on parenting moments.
As parents, we may long to rewind precious stages of child rearing or fast forward tricky ones. Yet it is really the pause button that can help us offer our children the best version of ourselves.
Treat yourself to this lovely 5-minute video that reinforces practical tips on how to pause. (hint: bend your knees? who knew?)
Any strategies that have helped you to pause as a parent? I’d love to hear it!
Pull up a chair and sip more hope?