'Slow down, we're moving to fast . . .'

October 13, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

They now have technology to sense if your child is in his/her car seat. Why? This invention stemmed from the death of children forgotten in their car seats.

Sounds horrible? Yes. Could it happen to most of us as parents? Most likely, yes – as terrible as it sounds. How could someone forget their most beloved “belonging” in a car seat?

We have heard stories across the nation and in Minnesota of such occurrences happening to loving families.

On Oprah a few weeks ago, there was what certainly appeared to be a loving mother who had done the aforementioned.

She put her daughter in her car seat, took off with the intention of dropping her off at day care, but stopped at the store first to buy donuts for her fellow teachers for the first day of school. Then proceeded on to school, got out of her vehicle and went into work, to come out to her car eight hours later to her daughter still in her car seat, dead from heat exhaustion. It was over 100 degrees outside so probably even hotter in the vehicle.

Yes, she was a teacher. She had broken her routine. Her husband typically brought the children to daycare, but it was her job to do it that day, but it did not happen. Because of hectic schedules and mothers and fathers thinking about the multiple things they have to do during the day, their thoughts go in many directions.

And I believe that is what happened to this mother. Her mind went into overdrive – get to work and complete all of the endless tasks on the “to do list.” Then go home and continue with another “to do list.” And she forgot her loving daughter. Conversations with other teachers during the day did not even spark her memory of her daughter yet in the car seat.

When she reached the car, she pulled her daughter out and ran around the parking lot in disbelief holding her daughter’s lifeless body. How could she have done this? She always tried to protect her daughter from outside harms, but she had not nor did she most likely think she had to, protect her daughter from herself.

Do we live too busy of lives? Do we over-schedule ourselves? Do we try to multitask?

Mothers especially try to be everything to everybody and try to multitask so we can complete everything on the “to do list.” But research tells us that our brains really cannot “multitask.” And so the worst of the worst can happen: you forget your little loved one in the car and pay the ultimate price, the loss of your most beloved at your own hands.

They now have technology available to remind us that our children are in the car still in their car seats. That should tell us something.

We all need to slow down. We think all the technology that we have will make our lives easier, and yes, it certainly can. But the problem prevails, we just add more to the “to do list,” which can just add more to the stress in our lives.

We all try to be superheroes – be a parent, a spouse, a breadwinner, a school volunteer, a church committee member, a daughter, a son, a coach, a Scout leader, PTO member . . . and the list goes on.

We can’t have it all – at least at once, or differently said, we can have it all (maybe) just not all at once.

As they say, we need to all take the time to smell the flowers, and we need to teach our children that it is ok to do that. We need to teach our children about hard work and responsibility, but we need to teach them about balance. And the best way to teach our children is to role model for them.

So as the song says, “slow down – you move too fast . . .”