“I just don’t have time for practice right now,”
“I don’t know where the time went today,”
“We didn’t get to practicing today,”
Are these common phrases at your house? Is each day different and a whirlwind of events is swirling by at all times?
Take a deep breath. It will never be perfect. Life will never balance. We do what we can and use our limited resources for good. You are using your limited resources for good. You are enough. The power lies within you. Can you do a little better? Do you want to progress? Can you learn and grow? Yes. And so can your child. But how?
Dr. Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. teaches about how to choose good things like eating that healthy apple or making that time for our child to practice. She uses the word willpower when it comes to choosing the good and identifies “one group of people who seem to be natural willpower athletes: leaders [and I would add parents]. Being in a position of power or high responsibility seems to motivate people to use whatever willpower they have left. Even when overwhelmed and exhausted, they will dredge up the final reserves to get things done.
There is a downside to pushing through, however. Studies show that leaders will exert their willpower until they crash and burn. Unlike the rest of us mere mortals who are more likely to “conserve” our energy, they spend every last bit of their willpower reserve. This puts them at greater risk for real willpower exhaustion.” (Why Leaders Have More Willpower, and More Willpower Failures, Psychology Today)
What are we to do after neglecting our piano again and feeling like a triathalete crossing the finish line ready to collapse? Dr. McGonigal advises another “important ingredient of athletic training: rest and recovery. It’s not just world leaders who face this risk: anyone with a lot of responsibilities (hello, parents) may find themselves burned out. If you are already pushing the limits of what seems humanly possible, your challenge may be to stop before you collapse.”
Please view rest as “an intergral part of productivity, not a reward to save for when all the tasks are done.” (Angela Watson Truth for Teachers) Plan time for rest and plan time for practice. Do you have 10 minutes in your day to FaceTime your child and practice? How about getting up just 15 min. earlier with your child? or going to bed 15 min. earlier too? Often shorter, more frequent practice sessions work well and 15 min. is better than no minutes at all. Match the practice to your child’s attention span; yes, your child has high ability however their attention and focus is still developing. Be patient with yourself and your child. Forming a new habit of daily practice takes time and an average of 66 days according to the University College London How are Habits Formed Study.
Begin today and find 5, 7 or 10 min. now to rest and to practice. It will be different tomorrow. Before you go to bed find minutes tomorrow and the next day to practice too. Having a plan creates a space to work and planning time to rest is a catalyst for productivity. You don’t wake up with more energy unless you’ve done something the day or night before to replenish it. So plan your piano work and practice your plan! Your child will thank you –and your teacher will too!