I love reading recipes, as well as thinking about fixing them and, especially, about eating them.  The other day while reading a recipe for risotto, the chef wrote  ” the genius of risotto is time…not too much or too little”.

As parents, I think we’ve all experienced this delicate balancing act – not too much or too little.  We know when life takes on too much and offers too little, too many distractions, too little focus on what is essential.

All of a sudden we realize we are yelling more and our children are listening less; our children are fighting more and playing together less; we are all feeling overwhelmed, preoccupied and rushed as spouses pass each other in the chaos.

These are strong clues that we should regroup, take a break, bring ourselves and our families back to the center.

Try and pay attention to the often subtle yet sometimes in-your-face-signs that whisper or shout we need more time together  –   perhaps just with mom, dad and the children,  without other families, friends and relatives to distract.  Maybe the need exists for only you and your spouse or partner, without the children, friends or relatives.

Listen to the clues.

A parent I knew lived in a neighborhood full of children.  The afternoons were spent playing and running from one house and yard to the next.  But around 4:30 p.m., this wise mom pulled her three girls in – for what she referred to as “sister time”.  They had a sunlit family room and sometimes there was a snack and time for them to look at the stack of books from the library, color, do puzzles or some other relaxing activities.  Whatever they did during this time that became second-nature and expected,  it was the quiet and calm that brought the quiet and calm to them.

As with children, sometimes we adults need to have our focused time intentionally structured for us.  Perhaps it’s only a nightly cup of tea and some conversation with your spouse after the last child is asleep, watching a favorite TV show or DVD, sharing a laugh, standing together at your sleeping child’s bedroom door, breathing  in his  innocence  or just sitting near each other reading.

What we’re striving for is some time to notice – to feel – to pay attention – to be reminded that we are in this match together.  It’s when we slip into ignoring the very routines and activities that draw us closer, that we can lose sight of our shared purpose.

It’s easy to slip off this track that weaves in and out of our family’s daily life.  But being intentional in these cherished relationships will help keep us even and balanced, and as with a good risotto, aware of our time – not too much or too little.

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