One of my favorite non-mom blogs is Zen Habits. This week he posted about making space in your life using the design principle of creating white space.
Creating white space around the important things and getting rid of clutter lets you focus on what’s important.
I loved the post so much that I immediately began moving things out of my home or into better spots. I’m somewhat of a hoarder and I often pile things up in and around my home instead of finding a good spot for it right away. I also live in a tiny little apartment with a 2-year-old. Nuff said.
So this post was so perfect for me. It clarified for me just why creating space is important. Not just so your house will look clean for when you have company over. But so your mind can concentrate in an orderly space. Interior is affected by exterior.
Then I imagined what parenting would be like if I used the white space principle on my parenting. Lose arbitrary rules. Focus on what’s important, a connection with my child. That’s what really needs to pop out at me.
Using white space creates:
- greater legibility
- feeling of luxury
- breathing room & balance
- more emphasis
Wouldn’t it be nice if we felt those things surrounding our relationship with our children?
Leo Babauta, the author of Zen Habits, allows all of his work to be freely used. It’s not copyrighted. I’m not going to re-post his work. You can read it on his site. But I did re-create his post in the context of parenting.
Here it is:
Using the principles of white space in your life creates many things:
Clarity. When I am unclear about how I am parenting, my relationship with Annika suffers. There are times when my brain is in a tug-of-war over what issues to press, and which ones to just let go. I was once given a bit of advice on how to know when you need to back off instead of pressing arbitrary rules on your child.
If you are about to do battle ask yourself, “Is this making a connection? Or is it damaging our relationship?”If the answer is yes to the latter, stop. Do something differently. Ask yourself what’s more important, the relationship with your child, or the issue at hand.
Peace.With young children, hectic schedules usually make for cranky kids. When life is peaceful, kids are happier, you are happier.
Breathing room and Balance. One of the tenets of Attachment Parenting is balance. By creating some breathing room, you can help create balance in your life.
Emphasis on the important. When life is busy all the time, the really important things become minimized in order to fit in with the less important things. Toss the unimportant stuff so that you can give more weight to what’s really important.
Achieving white space with children around might seem impossible. But if you take the time to make some clear breaks between activities and focus your attention on your child during those moments, you will make your connection stronger.
Breathe. I know. I know. Breathe. Take time to breathe with your child. Lately I’ve been making an effort to really focus on Annika directly throughout the day. If I’m feeling cranky, or trying to hurry up and get something done, but she’s whining, I find that if I take the time to concentrate on her for a brief time, she is happier and more compliant with my requests. Children don’t have timetables. But they do want your attention and affection. Make time to breathe and at the same time, focus on your child.
Schedule. Ditto what Babauta says. “Don’t overschedule. Leave space on your schedule, between tasks, instead of putting things back-to-back. The space gives you time to go between tasks, to recover, to refocus, to breathe.”
Projects. Again, ditto what Babauta says. (Isn’t it interesting how the same advice that applies to adults can apply to children?) “Do fewer projects at a time. Instead of juggling a bunch of projects at once, try to do one for as long as you can before switching to the next.”
Sit. Take time to just be with your child. Make it a priority. Throughout the day, just sit and be with your child, especially during the whiny times. That’s when they need you to be still with them.
Remove clutter. When it comes to toys, less is more. If your child’s toy space is cluttered, they will be less likely to play. But if you have a few prominent things available to play with, the toys get played with.
Savor. Savor your child. Drink in the precious moments. They will be gone before you know it. Take lots of pictures. Take video. Take mental snapshots. Cuddle instead of hurrying to get household tasks done. In a few years you won’t remember if the dishes got done everyday. But you will still be able to feel the weight of your baby lying on your chest, or your toddler’s small hands hugging your neck. If you savor the moments.