Sometimes, on Saturday mornings I will anxiously blurt out to my wife, “What are we doing today? What are our plans?”
Calmly, over a cup of coffee and a magazine she will say, “We’re doing it. Right now, this is the ‘it’ we’re going to do. The kids are playing outside. You and I are having coffee, this is all we’re doing right now.”
I will pace around the house for a few minutes, looking for a chaotic schedule of accomplishments I can rack up that morning until I eventually give in to the idea of peace.
I am not good at relaxing. I am much better at stirring up chaos, at creating long to do lists without any end in sight, and then hustling on them until I collapse. I like things to be so busy I can barely hear myself think. But, I don’t want to pass that habit down to my kids.
I don’t want my kids to have schedules that are so full we squeeze the joy of childhood right out. I want to be their dad, not their personal assistant trying to fit one more meeting, party or activity into their tiny calendars.
The crazy thing is that childhood is actually the time when kids should have lots of margin. They have their whole lives to worry about things like salaries and bosses and mortgages and meetings and all the things that keep us adults running around.
If they don’t practice peace now, when they don’t have all those commitments, how do we expect kids to learn it as adults?
They won’t. The chaos a kid lives with now is multiplied each year they get older and bump up against bigger responsibilities. Want to give a future 37-year old a chance at not burning out? Be deliberate about helping your 7-year-old live with peace. Want to help a someday 29-year-old not get caught in the gears of a fast paced world? Teach your 9-year-old the value of rest.
I’m not good at peace. My wife would tell you that if you asked, but I’m learning. And the more I understand about the stress we adults deal with, the more I realize I don’t want my kids to inherit it from me.
Jon Acuff is the New York Times Bestselling author of five books, including his latest, Do Over: Rescue Monday, Reinvent Your Work & Never Get Stuck. He’s worked with some of the world’s biggest brands including The Home Depot, Staples and Bose. Read his blog at Acuff.me and follow him on Twitter, @JonAcuff.