The Present Moment Can Be Doing the Dishes


shutterstock_45956698-1Many people seem to have the understanding that being in the present moment is by nature a “happy place”. That phrase makes me think about that scene in Happy Gilmore where Adam Sandler’s dream woman is scantily clad with two pitchers of beer and his grandma is winning big at the slot machine.  A common thought is that we are only truly present when we feel good and positive.  When we’re engaged in things like the dishes, work, or other obligations that take us away from things that “truly matter”, we cannot possibly be present…

Well, I’d argue that being in the present moment isn’t just about playing with your kids rather than doing the dishes.  This type of thought can lead straight to the guilty feelings parents often experience.  The present moment is accepting that there are times when we have to do the dishes.  During this time, there shouldn’t be guilt about not spending time with the kids.  We are simply doing the dishes.  Consider using the time that might normally be devoted to feeling guilty, to instead taking a few deep breaths.  The rhythm of taking the dishes out and stacking them can be pretty calming in itself, if you let it.  Having thoughts like, “Ugh, as soon as I’ve cleaned the kitchen it just gets dirty again, what’s the point?” or “I should be doing something with the baby rather than having him/her stare at me in the jumperoo” isn’t going to help you accept that this is a chore that needs to get done.  Maybe you’ll never jump for joy when there are tasks that need to be completed in lieu of activities with your child, but my point is that you can either choose to feel guilty about it, or make peace with it.  I think a clean, uncluttered kitchen can be just as helpful to a baby’s state of mind (and for that matter, a mother’s!) as a game of peek-a-boo.

Conversely, when you do take baby out of the jumperoo, engage without actively thinking about the ten piles of laundry that need to be done.  Simply do what you’re doing, when you’re doing it.  That’s the present moment.  Sometimes it will be filled with laughter, and sometimes it won’t be.  But you can be in the present moment in either of these situations.

As I write this, my children are with a babysitter.  As ideas for the new website started forming in my head, I realized I was often lost in thought while with my children.  I was craving some time during the day to type ideas up, but by the end of the day was too exhausted to work, so instead we’d simply watch an episode of Mad Men.  That’s when I decided that I need to have a sitter now and again.  Now, I have some mornings devoted to being present with my writing, and the kids have a person who has tons of fresh energy to engage with them.  Then, when I see my children again, my mind is rejuvenated and re-focused on them.  That said, I still don’t think there has been a day that I’m present 100% of the day.  Quite frankly, there are still those extra difficult days when I can hardly stop myself looking ahead to 8 o’clock when they are asleep.  But I simply do my best to be as present as I can and take it from there, shedding any potential feelings of guilt along the way.

Whether we are stay-at-home parents, working from home, or working full- or part-time, we can always live more present lives, whether we are physically with our children or not.  The more peace and acceptance we have with all of daily responsibilities, obligations, and yes, even taking time for ourselves, the less inclined we will be to wish we were in the moment and instead just be in it.  It’s not always rosy in the present moment, but that’s exactly why it pays to stay there, because the bad feelings we might experience in a moment can disappear with the same moment they hitched a ride in with.



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