Meshel Laurie’s advice on how to stop being a busy parent

Kinderling News & Features

Shevonne Hunt hosts Kinderling Conversation every weekday at 12pm.

December is called the ‘silly season’ for a reason.

Somehow, Christmas Eve becomes the entire year’s pressing deadline.

Christmas events demand attention, as do end-of-year kids’ concerts, work drinks and hectic shopping for last minute gifts (forgot the teacher/ child care educator/ mother-in-law).

All of this happens at the same time as, well, life. You know, the other things that fill up your days like drop offs, work, feeding the family, paying bills.

And yet this yearly deadline feels non-negotiable. December 24 is like the precipice before the fall into a New Year. Who knows what will happen then?

I’ll tell you what happens then. Another day. Another week. Another month.

And yet every year most of us get caught up trying to make it to the deadline.

But if I’m completely honest, while December can feel particularly crazy, ask me how I am any day of the year and I’ll answer “busy”.

Meshel Laurie might have the answers

Recently I came across Meshel Laurie’s new book Buddhism for the Unbelievably Busy and I thought: “looks interesting, but I’ve probably heard it all before”.

That is: we all think we’re busy. If we slowed down life would be better. Start saying “no” more. Put away your phone, Ipad, turn off your computer.

Most importantly I thought that slowing down was not an option for me. I’m a parent. I have a partner. I work. Those three things mean I am always busy, there is always something to do.

Meshel doesn’t deny that most parents are busy for good reason. She has twins, is a co-parent and helps to care for her elderly mum and dad.

“The writing of the book was the process for me, and it took me months of thinking about it, of making lists, of checking in with myself constantly. There are certainly things that were on the list initially that looked like completely non-negotiables that I’ve actually managed to remove. Or pull back a bit. It takes time and it takes introspection, it takes serious thought about it and meditation on it.”

Which is where the Buddhism part comes in. If you’re not into religion don’t let it put you off. While Meshel is a Buddhist, she has a light touch - using what she’s learnt through Buddhism to find her own sense of peace.

Listen to Meshel on Kinderling Conversation:

Meditation and mindfulness are key parts in shifting our approach to the way we live our busy lives. If we apply these principles, Meshel says, “You’d be amazed at what you can carve out of that [busy life] if you really want to, and if you sit long enough and really think about what you need in life.”

Reflect and reset your priorities

For Meshel it was about letting go of some financial goals. It means she’s now facing the reality of her choices (that is, not having as much money) but she’s still excited about what slowing down will mean in her life.

“I got very used to spoiling myself on that extra money, and I got used to treating myself and thinking I always deserved treats because I was worked so hard. But then I had to work harder to afford the treats!

“So I’m in this process of pulling back and knowing that I don’t have to shop online when I’m bored, I don’t have to book holidays when I’m feeling overwhelmed with life and escape it. I don’t have to do any of those things anymore.”  

For parents, Meshel suggests relaxing our expectations and asking for help. We make ourselves busier than we need to be when we assume our partners can’t do things “right”. As long as the child is happy and healthy you partner’s way might free you up to have a moment to yourself.

And if you ask others for help, then you might find life slows down as your “to do” list gets shorter.

Meshel’s book is a good one to grab onto at that Christmas Eve precipice. It’s a gentle “how to” guide that will show that even frantic and harassed parents have the ability to choose how we live our lives. Including during the “silly season”.