I think we can all agree that Iowa is an amazing place to raise our children. We are surrounded by communities that value enriching their lives. I am someone who grew up in Iowa, moved all across the country for nearly a decade, and now have returned to my hometown of Ames, to raise my own child. Being a single mom to a 5 year old boy has brought floods of beautiful memories from my younger years. It has inspired my parenting, and also made me aware of an important key in cherishing the memories that can be made here.
We are fortunate to have all the entertainment and experiences we could ever hope for, right at our fingertips. A quick visit to Facebook or Des Moines Parent makes it so easy to take advantage of all Iowa has to offer. The ease of making memories is wonderful. It has also taught me that there is still more that can be done to make these experiences better: being consciously mindful & present.
Over the past year, I’ve made it a point to be more present and really soak up the memories we are creating.
Life can become overwhelming. A lot of times it is so easy to spend a few hours at a movie on a Saturday afternoon or go somewhere that has entertainment already provided for us. I also know that most parents can’t always afford to attend every festival or event that we would like to. As discouraging as that realization can be at times, it has provided the opportunity for my son and I to work together and come up with our own adventures. These have turned into some of my most treasured memories and include the simplest of things: nature walks, the Ames Farmers Market, baking something new together, early morning walks around Ada Hayden, and impromptu “camping trips” in my dad’s front yard. I have noticed that when my son and I create & plan our activities together, it is the perfect recipe for mindfulness. When both of us take part in the planning and executing of our time together, we naturally pay more attention to what we’re doing, where we’re going, and how much we are truly enjoying our time together in those moments.
My hope, in writing about this, is not to encourage parents to ignore the opportunities in central Iowa that promote time with our families. My hope is that this reminds us every so often, to take a step back, soak it all in, and appreciate what we have in that exact moment. I truly believe if we practice mindfulness in all areas of parenting, it will make the memories we create with our children now, and in the future, even more special.
So, my challenge to Iowa parents is to try a little more mindfulness and presence everyday. Let’s leave our tablets turned off a few nights a week. Let’s try to capture a few beautiful moments with our eyes instead of our phones. None of us are perfect, we never will be, but being present will make the journey of imperfection full of even more joy.
Dianna Lea; Single Boy-Mom; Ames, Iowa