What Motherhood Taught Me About Time

If I have time today, I’ll do this, that and the other. Some days, there are more boxes in my day, and other times, there are less.

I used to think of time like this: boxes in a line.  When I became a mother, time changed on me. Well, no; time didn’t change but the way I saw and valued it, did.

i need more time in the day

In the early days of motherhood, time became a big swirling mass of blur. There was no distinct night and day; it all rolled into one.  And the boxes? The boxes didn’t work anymore…because I never crossed through any of them, from one end to another. They too, all started to swirl into the one big mass, I called time.

circle of time

At first, it was confusion that struck me most about this new reality. And there was a bit of frustration, and a tiny bit of resentment thrown in too.  I wanted my boxes back.  Crossing from one side of the box to the other — completing a task, job or checklist — gave me much satisfaction.  Planning how many boxes to fit into my day, and knowing I could achieve it, gave me confidence and drive.

Over time, I realised something. And it is this: time was always a circle, even when I thought in a line of boxes. Time is a circle and life happens inside. Time is there. It’s fixed. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no more, and no less of it. We only have whatever time we have.

Of course, I always knew that in theory, but I didn’t act like it because I didn’t think like it.  And now, as I look back over this last decade of my life, I see how motherhood did me many favours in teaching me about time.

I used to try and catch time. To hold on to it tightly.  I tried to manipulate and squeeze it to serve my purposes.

And how important was it for me to learn to weave through time, rather than catch it!

And how satisfying it is to capitalise on the time already there, for all the good things, the important things; for the big things and the little things!

Sure, I still plan things, and schedule things during each day, depending on what I’m doing, but I’ve embraced time for what it is. I think differently, and so I act differently.  Somwhere along the line, I stopped waiting for the right moment to do things.  I stopped waiting for the right time, and I became good at letting go of things not worth investing in.

It occurred to me, in a moment of ponder, that time is less and less important to me, which is rather strange because it’s so precious. And it is! Yes, time is precious. But it’s only precious because of what we do in the time we have, yes? And so I care less about time, and how much I can achieve in a day, and more about investing in living. The kids taught me that.  It all starts with what is important to me, and then making it a priority in my life by looking for, and creating opportunities.

This means I try and look at my children directly, for at least 3 seconds, when they talk to me in normal conversation. Even if that is 100 times in each hour, that’s only 5 minutes, and it’s worth the investment of time.

It means I’ll take time to de-construct a drooping flower with my daughter before dinner.

It means spontaneously googling cute polar bear pictures with my son before bedtime, after playing with our Arctic play scene.

It means dropping by my husband’s work if I’m driving past, just for a quick kiss.

It means taking the time, in every single day, to look around me and enjoy the beauty of nature.

It means connecting the dots as we live life, and making it meaningful.

It means I ruffle my son’s hair as he walks past me. And I stroke my daughter’s cheek when she talks to me.  I crouch down to look at a fun game the kids are playing and I sit my daughter on the kitchen bench as I make dinner.

Ah yes, this is quality time!  It’s less about a dedicated hour of activity and more about how we engage as we live life! And I see it so clearly: how these small moments weave into something so beautiful, and how satisfying it can be when I value the moments as important.

The kids will all be in school next year, and my time circle is not quite so blurry as it was at the beginning of motherhood.  But I’ll not be going back to my boxes because the worth of time, is in how I use it when it’s already there.

I’ll leave this post one of those rare sweet moments, when I was preparing dinner, and the kids were all there in front of me at the table — doing something, drawing — and everyone is doing individual things, but we are all together…family.


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  • Reply
    Deb @ Home life simplified
    October 23, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Love this post kel – definitely sharing today! So many great lines but i love this especially “It’s less about a dedicated hour of activity and more about how we engage as we live life!”

  • Reply
    October 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Well put Kelly. I have shared this on my FB page too. Always love reading your posts, such a beautiful reminder to enjoy our children and those precious moments x

  • Reply
    October 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Funny! Today I decided I would spend some one on one time with my daughter straight after kinder instead of her going straight into her ‘down time’ so I could continue on with my things to do. It was magical and we’re both feeling so loved as a result. The ‘things to do’ are still ‘to do’ but they always will be…it’s a never ending list. But the time I have with my daughter is so much more important to me. Thanks for such a lovely (and well timed) post!

  • Reply
    Deb @ Aspiring Mum
    October 23, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Great post! I’ve been thinking along this train of thought lately as well – that my time is not so compartmentalised any more. Pre-kids it certainly was (and with work it still is). But with family I’ve recognised that if I want to be intentional about relationship, then I need to let go of the rigidity that I can so easily attach to my time.

  • Reply
    Jodie @ Parent Wellbeing
    October 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    This is great Kelly! Kids are such amazing markers of time because they grow so fast. Soon our kids are out of nappies, soon they are all at school, soon they are all graduating from school! And then we wonder where the time went. This is a lovely reminder to do a bit more savouring along the way. Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    My boxes are still there, but I’m not as concerned about having them all in a row or all ticked off by the end of my day anymore.
    Time with my family, around all the day to day stuff, sport, school, and socialising with people we love is more important to me than getting all my jobs done!

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