What kids can teach us about being mindful

The pressure on adults today has reached epic proportions. Every time we look at our phones, we are reminded of all the things we should be doing to improve our lives and over and over again we are advised to be more mindful and to live in the moment.

I live on the other side of the world to my family and so when my youngest brother, Shane, told me he was coming to visit, the excitement in my house reached epic proportions. It was the first time any of my siblings had come to visit me in the five years we have been in New Zealand and I couldn’t wait for him to spend time with us, get to know the kids and just hang out.

He stayed for two months. We have never had anyone stay with us for this length of time. He would go the supermarket with my eldest (whose eight), they would buy the ingredients and make dinner together. He would sit and play the guitar and we would dance around like idiots enjoying the music. It didn’t matter what he played, all that mattered was that he was here, on our couch playing music. We went to the beach, the playground, after school sports, he slotted right into our lives as if he had always been there.

In the days building up to his departure I could sense all three of my children were not going to want Shane to leave under any circumstances. They had grown so close to him and as much as I tried to prepare them for him leaving, kids being kids chose to live in the moment and enjoy every second in his company. It’s fascinating how they can so easily do the one thing that we as adults struggle to do. They are experts at living in the moment. It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday or what is happening tomorrow, all they care about is that uncle Shane is on the trampoline playing tag with them and the sun is shining and dinner is nearly ready. Happy days.

One hour before his shuttle bus arrived, my eight year-old sat staring at his watch. His big worried green eyes looking at Shane, asking him if he had all his stuff packed and ready to go, asking him would he ever get to play Fifa with him again. Already my heart was breaking.

My youngest children (age five and three) were attached to him like leeches for the last hour until his lift arrived. We opened the door, the driver put his bag in the boot, Shane turned to say goodbye. All three kids burst into tears. I have never seen them as devastated as they were saying goodbye to their uncle Shane. All they knew is that Shane was leaving, but this time he wasn’t coming back and it was heartbreaking to watch. When he left it was dinnertime, I sat down and watched them crying into their dinners. All three of them were an inconsolable puddle of tears at the dinner table. I tried to cheer them up telling them we are going back to Ireland for Christmas, we will see him in six weeks time! But that means nothing to kids. If it’s not happening right now or tomorrow they are not interested.

It took an evening trip to the playground and a lot of chocolate to cheer everyone up. The next morning my three year-old climbed on my bed and said; “Where is uncle Shane? I can’t find him!”, I explained he had to go back to Ireland but we would see him when we went back for Christmas at nanas house, she listened, thought about it for a second and said; “I want to have Christmas today mom. Right now!”

Uh oh………..you can guess the size of the tantrum that followed…here’s to living in the moment everyone.

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