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What’s in front of you at any given moment is your life, quite literally. Here’s the dictionary definition of life (n.): “the animate, immediate existence of an individual.” Let’s stop here. The picture is too big. The present is sacred and it’s the only time we really have.

Taking things for granted is a common trap. If we fail to take advantage of the present moment, the odds are good we will also fail to do so at some hypothetical moment in the future. Keeping ourselves in a constant mode of preparation for the next thing means we’re always keeping our gaze on something that doesn’t exist.

Stakes are higher when we have rapidly growing kids. Blink, and your baby starts kindergarten. Blink again, and your kindergartener has the car keys. Children don’t wait around for us to start paying attention. Time marches on and takes childhood right along with it.

Stressful, right?

The big problem is that parenting requires tons of planning and a near-constant juggling act. How can we possibly balance everyone’s needs while fully appreciating our kids during the short time we have them around? It’s a puzzle I’ve struggled with personally since the moment my oldest son was born.

I’m sorry to report that I haven’t discovered the universal secret sauce to staying present and keeping all the balls in the air, but I have stumbled upon something that makes it easier. It’s the same thing I teach even my youngest clients when they come to me overwhelmed by life.


It seems foolishly simple, I know. But when we simply attend to our breathing we refocus on what’s real. Not yesterday’s memories. Not tomorrow’s projections. Right now. In doing so, we surrender the stressors that are out of our immediate control – if even for a moment.

Yes, there’s a high-stakes assignment due this weekend. Yes, that bully at school will need to be dealt with on Monday. Right now, you have a moment to breathe and see clearly. Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly.

Preparing for what’s to come is easier when you have presence of mind. By some miracle, staying in the present makes it more possible to manage your future with clarity and grace. Breathing in the moment keeps you grounded and lifts the weight of uncertainty. It narrows your focus while broadening your perspective.

It just feels a whole lot better, too – because deep down, we all understand that each new moment is the only thing we truly possess.

About the Author

Kerry Galarza, MS OTR/L is the Clinical Director and a pediatric occupational therapist at Elmhurst Counseling. She provides specialized assessment and intervention with children of all ages and their families. Kerry engages clients with naturally occurring, meaningful home-based methods to empower autonomy and maximize functioning.