Stop Holding Your Breath, You’re Getting Blue In the Face

Part 1 of a 3-part seriesPart 2 | Part 3

Half-ask, half-tell, half-listen … I don’t know about your household, but this is what makes up most modern-day parent-to-parent and parent-to-child convo’s when everyone’s home from work and school. And I say most, because as much as we’d like to hide the fact, from ourselves and others, that our everyday conversations with our partners and our kids are of afterthought-quality, it’s a thing, in this day and age, and seemingly everyone’s in on it.

We could go down the list and pinpoint endless aspects of our lives and relationships that suffer as a consequence of our fast-paced lifestyles where things-to-do far outnumber ways-to-connect. But I prefer taking a more proactive approach in which I admit guilt, then ask the judge for community service to make today a better day than its predecessor.

There’s much to be said for mindfulness; a powerful way of being packed into a word that’s anything from the basis of entire religions, to trendy hashtags overused by yoga pants-tourists on “find themselves” quests. But for us as partners and as parents, mindfulness in its simplest form, away from the hype and loadedness, is the basis of sanity in our arsenal against going mad in a world where we simply battle to keep up. And that on the good days.

Mindfulness is getting still, for a few seconds of in-breath, out-breath, that’s far less flower power than it sounds. It’s, well, breathing. That thing you do anyway. Just less panting than the usual rush from one checked-off item to another, and more of a deliberate intention to be very alive to a specific moment in your life. And it literally – I kid you not, I’ve tried it, folks, and it works! – starts with an inhale-exhale.

In that moment of getting still, of cancelling out the noise of hooting traffic, whistling kettles, blaring TV jingles, screaming children, partners ranting about work, beeping phones, there’s a small, quiet space that waits for you to come through the door. It’s the breath that knocks, and it’s the breath that opens the latch.

In that moment – and don’t get me wrong, you have a few seconds, here, before the noise is back in full-swing – you get to remind yourself of The Reason.

There’s a reason you, and/or your partner, work. There’s a reason your child/ren receive an education. There’s a reason you are all members of society, contributing in various ways to family, to friends, to the community. There are, in fact, many things and many reasons and just plain many many, many. (Which is why we’re having this here conversation in the first place.)

But as you take a second or two to experience oxygen going into your lungs and out through your airways, you remember that there’s a Greater Why behind all of you together in this show-up, sharing the rush, the time management struggles, the sprints from here to there to everywhere; it’s The Reason that ties it all together.

As you look at your family, what is your Reason for being-ness, for together-ness?

Try it out. Time it if you must, put it on to-do list if you’re so inclined. I think you’ll find that three seconds in a place of grateful respiratory contemplation – cos gratitude comes uninvited, one of the gifts of the breath – gradually makes for less huffing and puffing and more connectedness with your other half and your little minions.


Nadja is on an epic quest to make the exciting world of rapidly evolving technology work for her and her family instead of swallowing them up whole. The jury’s out daily on who’s won which round.

This article was first published on CompuKids, a junior technology academy that provides structured online Computer Science and Technology curriculum for kids, where Nadja has served in a parental advisory and marketing consultancy capacity.