SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

April 2024

Chronos vs Kairos: Make Your Time Count, Mums!

“My kids take up so much of my time that I feel like I don’t have energy left to do what I want. How do I manage my time better?” asked a fellow mum. “You stop time,” I said. My friend stared at me, eyes wide open, so I continued, “In Greek, there are two words for time — Chronos and Kairos. And you can squeeze more time out of your day by making the right one count.”

Everyone is aware of Chronos — the external measure of time. We observe it in the ticking of seconds on clocks, or darkening skies as dusk descends on each day. Chronological time is quantitative and what many motivational speakers refer to, to remind us of our finite hours on earth.

Most time management courses focus on strategies to organise a productive day. We want to ‘beat the clock’, because ‘time waits for no man’, so we ‘race against time’, our scarcest resource.

There is no way we can stop Chronos because it exists outside of us. But what if the other definition of time returns control back to us because it is internal?


Kairos — Time that Truly Counts

Kairos is defined as ‘deep time’, a moment of opening for an action. It is time’s qualitative essence — a moment when the world seems to stop. These are moments when you’re so intertwined in the present that all your senses are heightened and you experience the world more vividly, more profoundly, more intimately.

We may experience Kairos within a momentary shared laugh. Or it could last for as long as a silent walk with a loved one. Kairos cannot merely be duplicated by copying an outward action because it is a unique experience for each, an unmistakable encounter that leaves you in awe.

My children are my greatest teachers on Kairos.

As I wrapped my hand around her tiny hand, I was pleasantly aware of how soft they felt and how rough mine seemed against hers. While we walked and talked, I hung onto every word she said. Fully absorbed in understanding her world.

Image: freepik

We reached McDonald’s and she went to get us a seat while I ordered. Even though we were physically apart, our connection remained. I spotted her as I carried the tray back to our table and there was such a presence of love that the noise, the crowd, faded into oblivion.

I sat down next to her and we started on our meal. While I cannot remember the contents of our conversation, I remember the smiles coming from people around us. In that moment, I understood something.

Kairos time can open a space where those around us can experience our connection as an undeniable energy. Couples, families, and individuals at neighbouring tables were all drawn to the unmistakable aura of love we had unknowingly created.


Create More Kairos in Our Chronos!

Kairos moments are plentiful for young children and sparse for adults. Notice how preschoolers can be so engrossed in Lego play or (infuriatingly) slow when they walk? They are savouring their environment while we impatiently hurry them along.

Adults rarely experience these moments because of our judgemental minds, the overwhelming deluge of information from our mobile phones, and the societal roles we are obligated to fulfil. There is no mental quietude, no refuge from addictive screens, or respite from society’s relentless expectations.


Beware these three enemies of the Kairos:

1. A Distracted Mind

Image: freepik

We live in a productivity-driven culture that celebrates outward achievements above the inner victories of deep connection. We are so driven to maximise our day that we pack our schedules (and that of our kids) with activities because any free time is frowned upon as unproductive.

As a super-efficient person, I loved the mental challenge of maximising my day. I’d complete my work by lunchtime so that I could spend time with my daughter after fetching her from school. And then once we reached home, it was time for household chores. I loved how much I accomplished in a day despite having five kids!

Yet, as I mature, I realise that breadth sacrifices depth. I now understand that accomplishing more does not leave me fulfilled. Busyness is an excuse for many to get caught up with mindless ‘doing’. Instead, anchoring my mornings in meditation connects me with my purpose. And ‘being’ is established through the discipline of keeping still. I learn to be comfortable with quietness, to explore my inner world.

Set aside time daily to meditate, journal, or contemplate. We do not need the information on TikTok, entertainment on Netflix, or the influence of the media. These external distractions do little to connect us within.


2. A Disappointed Mind

We all have past hurts, which we carry into the present. Unresolved trauma, wounds, and grudges taint our perception of current occurrences, so there is no space to truly engage in the moment.

Ask yourself: whenever you are triggered, what’s the fear under your emotional charge? It is rarely the external person, thing, or circumstance. The past always colours your reflexes and reactions. What you want is to effect a response from a conscious place. But it’s easier said than done.

If you want to learn how to uncover past wounds and recognise their direct impact on your current life, then sign up for my upcoming online class (more about it below). It can help you move forward with a lighter heart and be a better — and happier — parent!


3. A Demanding Mind

Image: freepik

I just reconciled with my teenager. That was another Kairos experience. I was upset at her for pushing food to her sibling and told her off for it. Yet, as I sat trying to write this article, I became present to the negative state I left her in.

I called out to her and initiated a conversation on what just happened. “How did you feel?”

She responded tentatively, “I don’t know… misunderstood?”

Momentarily holding back my judgements of why her ‘joke’ was not funny, my mind suddenly teleported back to the time when 16-year-old me hit my friend’s bottom at the bus-stop. I was so oblivious to her displeasure that I ‘spanked’ her a second time, after she already told me to stop.

“I said STOP IT!” Her firmness broke my playful spell and I stopped, surprised.

The moment I connected what my teenager had done to something I was ‘guilty’ of committing years before, I immediately understood her.

Just seconds ago, I was so sure she was in the wrong. Now, my expanded awareness let me identify with what she was saying. She was unaware and while her intended joke was not received as funny, it did not negate her good intentions.

I apologised and as we hugged, that was a Kairos moment where we connected without a need for words. She knew I understood her, and that I accepted her as she was. There was a shared experience of love and it felt amazing!

Most of us won’t admit that we’re ‘demanding’ because it is socially unacceptable. Yet, isn’t it accurate that we all have expectations and constantly demand that people around us live up to them?


Let Go and Experience Kairos

Image: freepik

Expectations are such an automatic part of our thoughts that catching them requires conscious effort. The dangerous thing about expectations is the fact that most of them remain uncommunicated.

We set any relationship up for failure when we insist that things must only go our way. When we become aware that our expectations are in the way of truly listening to the other person, that awareness opens up a space for two-way communication. A space where the other person can finally be heard.

I let go of my expectations (that my daughter should see my point of view) with the intention to truly listen to her. That was the portal to opening Kairos time for us. A magical moment where I was no longer concerned about being understood, but to understand.

There is so much more to explain. But just like how someone needs to mount a bicycle to truly learn balance, reading more about it would do little to create more Kairos in your Chronos.

Even as I conclude this article on time, I’m smiling because it inspired me to present you with an experience of Kairos through a two-hour online course. Just in time for Mother’s Day! If you want to shift your relationship with TIME, indicate your interest in this form. I look forward to seeing you in class!


Featured image: on Pexels

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looking at the time on watch

Chronos vs Kairos: Make Your Time Count, Mums!