Time in, Values Out

Last week I was having a closet crisis, one of those moments I know most women can relate to. Despite having a million things to wear, I had nothing to wear. Clothes were strewn about on my bed, the floor and the chair that no one ever sits in because it really is there just to support moments like these; I suspect you have one too. It was me against my closet for 30 minutes.

All the while, in the room next door, my son was learning patience - waiting for his mom to get her wardrobe woes in check, before seeing his completed Lego project. When he asked, “Mom, are you ready?”, for the fourth time, I snapped back, “Just a minute… I can’t find anything to wear!” To this he replied rather frankly, and a little bit mift, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, Mom. Just wear your beautiful smile.”




Just like that, it hit me. My closet crisis wasn’t teaching my son patience. It was teaching him that I care more about my appearance than I do acknowledging and honoring his hard work. It made me wonder, In what other ways am I shaping my little guy’s value system, specifically as it relates to how I spend my time?


Here’s the thing: kids pay attention, even when it seems like they are not. They are soaking up everything we say and don’t say, everything we do and don’t do. And that includes how we spend our time which they correlate to what matters in life. It’s all getting baked into their wiring, ultimately creating their view of how the minutes of life should be lived.


So think about it, from the lens of your little (or maybe not-so-little) ones. What are they learning from you about how to spend time, and within that, what are they learning about your value construct? If you took an inventory of how you spend your time, what would it showcase about your priorities? Or asked another way, is the way you spend your time, aligned with what you say your values are? Do you prioritize the things you hope your kiddos will eventually prioritize such as self-care, rest, exercise, connecting with (real) friends, philanthropy, taking the time to listen, meditation, inspired work, time in nature, hobbies, daydreaming, skygazing, reading and learning? Or are you spending your time scrolling, liking, commenting, pinning, gossiping, complaining, altering natural beauty, shopping, stressing, overworking, arguing, sitting in traffic, scheduling over scheduled kids and obsessing over perfect meals? And now ask yourself, “If my child becomes me as an adult, and prioritizes the things I prioritize with his/her children, would I approve?”


Here’s the bottom line: kids need parents that help chart their course beyond academics and athletics. They need parents who guide and model values, and how we spend our time is a direct reflection of what matters to us. The minutes in a day count. We only get 1440 of them. If we use them consciously and align them to our values, our children will do the same. They will be crystal clear on what matters and why it matters and will live in accordance, even if that means the occasional unfashionable outfit.

This post is dedicated to my greatest professor, my son, Asa. Thank you for teaching me, through the purity that is love, how to be a more conscious mama. And thanks for thinking I have a beautiful smile.


tristan coopersmith