We all need to pause. No, I don’t mean chill out or have some me-time or anything like that. I mean pause. Or Le Pause to be more precise. In fact, I should have started this column by saying ‘we all need to be French’ but I realise it’s a whole lot simpler to pause than to go through all the paperwork and red tape needed to change nationality. You see, Le Pause is a parenting technique employed by French parents that involves … yes, you’ve guessed it … pausing before running to a crying baby or giving into a toddler’s demands - or any of the myriad of requests made by the little ones in our lives. This pause can be anything from a few seconds to a couple of minutes (I guess there’s a bit of wiggle room there – Le Wiggle perhaps?) but the fascinating thing is that it has quite the positive impact on parent and child. It’s even been credited with getting pretty much all French babies to sleep through the night by 2 months, which I could’ve done with knowing 10 years ago when my third child decided that night-time didn’t begin until 2am and only lasted 4 hours. Quelle horreur!
However, I’ve had a recent revelation that Le Pause could have applications far beyond the usual parenting list of problems and could hold the key to keeping our own sanity. And if you pause to think about it, taking a few moments to get our balance instead of rushing to respond to everybody’s else’s wants and needs ain’t such a bad idea.
Picture this. You’ve literally just become a parent to your first child and your parent-in-law/parent asks you when you’re planning on adding another to the brood. Do you react the way you feel like reacting? The way they’re probably expecting you too? No, you do not. Instead you pause. And in that pause, you look at them knowingly for a minute or so - which, by the way, is a looonng time to remain silent - then respond in the manner you choose to; firmly, harmlessly, and safe in the knowledge that you will never be asked that same question by that same person again.
Or how about this scenario? You finally find a few minutes to run to the bank to cash that gift cheque your relative sent you. The one you’re planning on spending entirely on yourself. However, the bank teller has different plans and tells you that it’s going to take up to 23 days to clear. Do you let him have it? Lose your cool? Embarrass yourself in front of the entire bank and its customers making it almost impossible to ever darken its doors again? (Full disclosure: may be based on a true story) No! You pause, gather up your papers and leave quietly to immediately go next door and cry into your coffee. Perfect ending? Maybe not. But my point is this. In a world full of beeping devices and busy people and small humans demanding an instant response to every whim, Le Pause may just be L’Antidote you are seeking. N’est-ce-pas?