Grown-Up Reads

Slow Down, Momma: A Note of Encouragement for Busy Moms

by Becky Thompson

Photo credit: Halfpoint Images, Moment Collection/Getty Images

My mom stood outside my van in sunny Southern California. In just a few hours, she would catch a flight and return to chilly spring weather in Oklahoma after a wonderful weeklong visit.

I had already climbed into the van and taken my place in the driver’s seat, but my mom paused and lingered outside of her door for another minute. I leaned over to see what she was doing. I clicked the unlock button to make sure she wasn’t locked out. But she just stood there. She was looking toward the hills, green from recent rainfall, and she was breathing deeply. I looked out my own window to follow her gaze and waited, wondering what was taking so long.

“Sometimes you just have to stop and take it all in,” she said as she opened the door and got inside. “The hills, the sun, how pretty it all is.”

I peered out at the mountains covered in wildflowers and the landscape of life around me, and she was right. It was beautiful. It was a different kind of beautiful than the landscape of Oklahoma, where I spent so much of my life. How had I missed the beauty right in front of me?

My family and I have lived here for a year and a half, and sometimes I forget just how lovely and different it is. Motherhood and all its demands can put me in such a hurry that I completely overlook my surroundings.

As a mom of three young children, this is a common theme in my life. There’s so much rush, so much to do. I often miss the beauty of it all. And I don’t just mean the palm trees and sunny weather — I’m often so busy that I miss the opportunity to enjoy the process of my daily life as a wife and mom. I miss seeing how my kids are growing and changing before my eyes.

Do you ever feel that way, too? Do you ever feel like you’re so busy that you don’t have the chance to stop and breathe? To appreciate all that’s around you?

The truth is motherhood is fast, motherhood is full, and motherhood is frequently noisy. Rarely does it all settle and quiet down. Yet our souls crave peace, and our health demands that we find moments to rest. Self-care is one of the last to-dos on any mom’s list, but more and more we’re hearing the importance of giving ourselves permission to slow down and just breathe.

How do we find space in the middle of all the madness to pause, process, and practice the art of steadying our minds?

I think it’s far simpler than we might realize, and it doesn’t need much strategy. To start: do what you can where you are. It might not mean a Mom-cation for a spa weekend (though doesn’t that sound nice!), but instead slowing down and intentionally breathing deeply outside of the car — pausing to look around before we climb inside. Perhaps the art of steadying our minds and finding peace in the midst of life’s processes is as easy as remembering my momma’s advice: “Sometimes you just have to stop and take it all in.”

So, can I encourage you for a moment? This moment around you right now matters. Don’t race through it. Don’t wish it away.

Take a deep breath with me. Maybe another. Survey the room around you. Listen to what you hear. Take stock of how you feel. And allow your heart a few seconds to settle. Because finding calm in the chaos is possible — though we might have to reach sometimes to find it.