Tag Archives | simplicity

Find Your Flow


When I speak to groups of moms with young children, I ask them to close their eyes and think of the last time they felt themselves relax into the moment so much that they lost all sense of time. When I look around the room I can see panic in some of the women’s eyes as they realize they can’t think of the last time they felt this way.

The truth is that for most moms with small children, these moments are all too few and far between.

And according to scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”), these moments, which he calls “flow,” are extremely important to our happiness and wellbeing. Athletes often call it being “in the zone.” In the Christian world we sometimes call it kairos, qualitative rather than quantitative time, moments when God reaches into us or meets us in a profound way, moments that pull us out of chronos, or quantitative time. Moments of flow aren’t always easy to come by, but they are spiritually refreshing, even essential.

For those of us with small children at home, however, such moments can feel unattainable because our children so often interrupt our focus. Sometimes my entire day feels like one long series of interruptions.

So how can parents (particularly stay-at-home parents) experience flow? Think of those things in your life that produced a sense of flow in the past and make sure to work them into your schedule.  Some of my best times of flow come when I’m writing or editing, and I’m so wrapped up in the task at hand and the words on the screen that I forget what’s going on around me. Finding enough time to do this is not only challenging when you’re a parent of small children, it can be downright dangerous if you also need to be supervising small humans, so I normally save this kind of flow-inducing work for my kids’ naptimes or after their bedtimes or when someone else is caring for them. Some other flow-inducing tasks for me are walking, reading, and sometimes cooking or baking. I do find that I’m a lot happier and more peaceful in the rest of my day when I’ve been able to get caught up in something I really enjoyed this way.

But I’ve also learned to expand my ideas of flow. Flow doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Some of my most rewarding times of flow have been with my children.  In fact, now when I close my eyes and think of when I experience flow or kairos my mind goes first to pushing one of my children on the swing in the park or reading books aloud together. Now, before you throw your phone across the playground, no, I certainly do not achieve this sense of flow every single time I push one of my children on a swing or read one of them a book. But in general, when I allow it, these activities are conduits to kairos. 

The key phrase in that last sentence was “when I allow it” because a certain amount of intentionality is required. Flow never happens when I’m only halfway present with my children, thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner or loading the dishwasher or listening with half an ear to a podcast. Multitasking is the enemy of flow. Flow only happens for me when I’m doing one thing at a time.  And because I always feel so overwhelmed with SO MANY things to do, doing only one thing at a time feels almost unnatural.

I’ve found, however, that it gets easier with practice. And in these moments I sometimes glimpse this truth: It’s not my kids who are the interruptions. My life with them is the real life, the important part. It’s the other stuff that’s interrupting.

One Easy Way to Simplify Family Life

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This time of year many of us start to think about simplicity. Practicing Christian simplicity is about doing less or having less in order to focus more on God. I think many of us want to better practice simplicity in our family lives but find it hard to know where to say no. Something that […]

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Three Goals for a Simpler Summer

Plenty of time for playing soccer in the yard

  School ended on Friday, and we are now officially on summer vacation, as my 4-year-old keeps excitedly reminding us. We celebrated with a family trip to the drive-in to see How To Train Your Dragon 2.   And now here we are with a beautiful summer stretching out before us. Aahhhh….No school lunches to […]

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More God, Less of Everything Else

Mom Seeks God signing

As I’ve been talking to groups and traveling around a bit to promote Mom Seeks God, I’ve been struck by the hunger I’m seeing for spiritual practice, for connection with God. Yet at the same time, I sense that for many the idea of meeting God through spiritual practices feels close to impossible. We want […]

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Five Ways to Reduce Paper Clutter

Clean Counter

(Even for the chronically disorganized)   One of the biggest domestic challenges for me is keeping on top of the reams of paper that want to enter my house each and every day. The mail, the magazines and newspapers, the remarkable amount of paper that comes home from school and activities with each child. (I […]

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My Catalog Problem

This time of year my mail seems to be mostly catalogs.   For most people, this would probably be nothing more than a minor nuisance, but I’ve previously discovered that I have a teeny little problem with catalogs. Two small boys at home makes it seem difficult if not impossible to actually shop for clothes […]

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