Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

I was never really into the television show “The Little House On The Prairie” but from what I remember their life was pretty slow. I never remember Charles taking little Grace to countless physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy appointments, riding elephants (or rody horses), or taking little Mary to have a CBC test ran.

Our life is nothing like the Ingalls.  Nothing at all.

picture of the cast of little house on the prairie

We wish you guys would slow down a little bit.

They lived a slow-paced life.  We don’t.  They made it a priority to keep the main things in life, the main things.  We so often do not.

In fact it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, and miss life all together.

I find that the older I get the more intentional I have to be about slowing down to notice and enjoy all of the small things in life.

Our life isn’t a TiVo.  We only get one shot.

As a new parent I want to take in every smile, every cry, every laugh, every bit of fun I can from our little guy.

a picture of the tivo logo icon

There is no TiVo remote for your life!

One of my biggest fears is lying on my death-bed and wishing I had a TiVo remote to my life. Wishing that I could somehow rewind to parts of my life I missed.  Sections of my life where I was present, but wasn’t.  If you know what I mean.

Parts of my life I would have caught had I just put down my computer, or iPhone, or iPad, or……whatever else was beeping, or buzzing for my attention, and focused on what was happening “on-screen” at the moment.

I wonder how many hours I spent re-watching a one hour television program because I had to rewind it over, and over because I was “multi-tasking” instead of giving all of my attention to what was going on at the time…?

Ok, moving on.

Keeping the main thing, the main thing isn’t easy.

picture of baby with down syndrome riding dinosaur

Never forget to use both hands when riding a dinosaur!

My life long goal is to “keep the main thing, the main thing.” To not lose sight of the trees spite the forest.  To be the kind of person who “is where he is,” so to speak.

I’ll be honest, it’s hard work for me.

I live and work in a world where there is constantly something beeping, chirping, ringing, buzzing, or vibrating for my attention. I have to fight (hard) to stay focused on the vital parts of life, and allow all the rest to fade into the background.

I think they call that priorities.

My top-six-don’t-ever-forget-these-life-priority-list!

Quick, give me your top six life priorities.  You know, the top six items of your life listed in the order of importance.

Is that tough for you?

picture of boy with down syndrome eating ice cream cone

Never forget your priorities!

I’m convinced most people never really think about this sort of stuff, and would struggle to give you a list of their “life priorities.”

Maybe you just struggled to list off your top six.

But it’s important to have a list like this if you want your life to work.  Not just getting by….I mean really working.

I’ll share with you my top six life priority list.  Now I don’t always do a great job of keeping this list straight, but this is the list by which I try to order my life.

When things in my life seem to not make sense, or I find myself frustrated, angry, distracted, confused, etc, it’s usually because something in this list (or the whole list) is out-of-order.

So without further ado, here you go:

My “life-priority” List

  1. Developing, growing, and nurturing my relationship with God. (It should be noted that if there was a spot higher than number 1, this priority would go there. It is essential to every other part of my life that I keep God at the top spot on this list. If I don’t  it won’t be long before I am ineffective in every other area of my life.
  2. Developing, growing, and nurturing my relationship with my wife.
  3. Developing, growing, and nurturing my relationship with my son.
  4. Developing, growing, and nurturing my relationship with my family.
  5. Developing, growing, and nurturing my relationships with others. (Friends, etc.)
  6. Work, school, play…apple products, etc…(pretty much everything else in life.)

If I keep this list in order my life seems to just work.  However if just one of these items is in the wrong place on this list it causes a domino that effects my entire life.  I’m convinced that the world has been “rigged” to only work well when our “life priorities” are kept in this order.

Vacations are like water to your family. They are vital.

cool cup of refreshing water


One way our family tries to live life by this priority list is by making sure we take at least one vacation a year (more if possible.)

I know some of you think this is impossible for your family to do, but it’s not. You don’t have to go to the Bahamas every year (But if you can, that’s awesome!) to have a vacation.

Heck, even just a “staycation” can do wonders for your family.

Just pack up the family and find a cheap hotel somewhere close to where you live.

Be creative. Make it fun. But above all else…don’t just do nothing!

It’s ok (and important) to leave the kids at home sometimes!

clayton new mexico dinosaur trackway

But don't leave them at home if you're going to a dinousur park. That's just mean!

It is important to not only have a yearly family vacation, but a yearly married-couple-only vacation as well! I  have met many married couples that haven’t been on a vacation as a family, or as a couple, for 5,6,7…even 10 years or more…!!!

I don’t get that.

You have to learn to take time out of your life and slow down. (If not life has a funny way of making you slow down.)  I think every year a married couple should spend at least one weekend a year by themselves….with no kids!

Trust me, I know this is a hard thing to do, (especially when you have a kid-o as cute as our baby Noah!) but it’s a necessity.  Did you know studies have shown that children who have parents that regularly spend time alone (date nights, vacations, etc) have more confidence, and feel more supported as a result of mom and dad still taking time to be with one another.

So parents, start planning that next trip!

Today marks the start of our family vacation!

Since Noah was born our life has been going at Mach 5.  We have been going, going, going.

Thankfully today marks the first day of our (much-needed) two-week vacation. We are spending the first leg of our trip at my wife’s parents in Colorado.

Since its such a beautiful drive we decided to take Noah on his first cross-country road trip to see his grandparents! (I’m not sure how many states you have to drive through in order for a trip to be considered cross-country. In my rule book it’s two or more…so we’ll just go with it!)

It is about an 18 hour drive from our door to theirs…unless you are me.

When it comes to road trips you have two groups of people. You have the types that like to go non-stop, and maybe, if you are lucky, they will let you stop for a bath room break. Then you have my type.

I like to stop…often. I get bored in the car. 🙂 I can turn an 18 hour trip into a two-day trip easily!

A day full of firsts!

baby boy with down syndrome and big blue eyes

"Sure, it was a long day, but these carrots make it all worth it!"

We stopped about half way to give baby Noah a little rest (and me!) I was glad we did because Noah got to see his fist dinosaur!

In fact the entire day was filled with firsts:

First out-of-state road trip

First ice cream cone (rocky road, yum!)

First carrot

First time to ride a dinosaur! Really…! See picture above for proof!

First time in a hotel crib (sorry buddy)

First time in a hotel hot tub (sorry again, buddy)

baby boy with down syndrome sleeping in hotel crib

"This is no where near as comfy as my crib at home."

What a day! Our little Noah was ready to crash by the time we got to our hotel in New Mexico.

I’m thankful that no matter how busy life gets we make time to get away and relax. To shut down (kind of) and just enjoy the important things in life.

What sort of things does your family do to make sure you are keeping the main thing the main thing? Do you have any yearly family traditions? Favorite vacation places, etc?

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. Kristen Arispe says

    That is all so true! That is wonderful that you realize that already, and are starting out that way! My husband and I have been married for 22 years and have 6 children. It has only been in the last few years that we have made time for each other like that. Our anni. is the weekend after Thanksgiving so we rarely did anything for our anni. until we decided to celebrate on our engagement day in May. My husband was very busy with work and did a lot of volunteer work for the church so when we did go on a trip it was always to visit family and rushed. Nothing wrong with visiting family, it is important, but we need to get out and do things with the kids for them. We were slow to realize these things, and about 3 years ago we took our kids on a camping and fishing trip in CO. ( where I grew up, and we married. My favorite place!) Also, in the last few yrs, we have made 2 or 3 weekend trips per year, just the 2 of us. And “rain or shine”twice a month, on pay day, we go to lunch. My husband also took a diff. job so he could be closer to home and spend more time with us. Well, sorry to go on so much. This post is so close to home and these changes are making a big difference in our family and our marriage! God bless you and your family.

  2. Davina Cairns says

    Only found your blog yesterday via Holding onto Hope…..todays post so relevant…we cannot rewind our lives..We as a family/couple are trying to live this out, live life to the full making the most of every opportunity and living with no regrets. This is not a dress rehersal this is it!
    Thank you for your honesty.
    While our son is off out for 3 hours with his carer, I have packed up a dinner picnic and so my husband and me are off on a picnic date, to catch up and spend time together. We have found it a must to make time for each other, with having a child/adult with special needs and a busy life/church life. Look forward to reading more of your posts. God bless

    • @Davina,

      That sounds great! You guys sounds like a neat family.

      I’m so glad you found our blog, and we look forward to connecting with you. Do you guys have a blog by chance?

      Also you should grab a Gravatar so we can put a face with a name! 🙂 —–>

  3. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier as they get older. Question: what do you do with a 12 or 13-year-old with Down who can’t go to a daycare center and can’t stay alone? What about when she is an adult, but still isn’t safe to leave home alone? It gets much harder to find that “alone” time for a couple as the child gets older. We still struggle with this, and our daughter just turned 38. We don’t trust “respite care” (we don’t know them and they don’t know her), and we don’t live near family any more. So, what’s the answer?
    Keep sending out those videos, Noah’s dad (and mom). It’s a wonderful reminder of how she was when she was little, and how much easier in some ways our lives were.

  4. You might want to look at this article (and everything on the site), the title of which speaks for itself.

    “How not to be a therapy mom”

    a quote from the author in the comments:

    ” … there is more to life and motherhood than therapy. Your child is a person first, and an object of therapy last. You are a mother first. You have a family, a whole family which exists for far more than therapy. When therapy takes over your life, when you are overwhelmed with guilt for not “getting it all done”, then you need to stop being a therapy mom and focus instead on being a mother who has a heart-to-heart connection with her child.”

    • Keith,

      You might want to avoid giving advice based on what you know about a family from the internet. I know this mother and father. They aren’t overwhelmed with guilt and therapy has not taken over their life. They are just doing the best they can to help their son. I have a son with DS myself, and we do the same. The fact that they are sharing how they are working for the benefit of their son with others is praiseworthy. I’m sure the majority of new parents who read this are thankful for such a helpful and optimistic resource. I’m sure you mean well, but your point is lost on this family because it doesn’t apply.

      • Joel, (and Rick) I apologize. I didn’t at all intend to give “advice” to Rick in posting this article. I agree with all you wrote. From what I’ve seen in Noah’s videos, I absolutely believe his parents are doing a wonderful job with him, and he is a beautiful baby. And my 7 year old daughter with DS loves watching the videos and asks to see them over and over.

        Rather, I thought the article was along the same lines as Rick’s, “Keep the Main Thing The Main the Main”. I understood Rick to mean that we should not lose sight of what’s really important in our busy, noisy lives. I’m not accusing Rick of this.

        However I have known some people with children with DS who, after years of doing all kinds of therapies, get both burned out, and feel guilty for not using every possible waking moment for therapy. The point of the article was that simply interacting with your child in a relationship of love is already “therapeutic”. She gives examples of simple conversations with her daughter Mary helped her communicate with others too. What can be more positive than focusing on a “heart-to-heart connection with your child”?

  5. Sorry there was a misunderstanding. I agree with that perspective regarding therapy. Our son has an older sister and younger brother. So, he gets lots of “therapy” just being a part of our family.

  6. Hi,

    I just found this site by accident when I am searching for any videos on physical therapy for children with global developmental delay.

    I am happy that the contents of this site is very relevant for parents of children with special needs. Hope you could still post some videos on your session with your PT as this can help a lot for us who have not access to this kind of facility.

    Thank you again. I will be your regular visitor to your site.

    • So glad you found us! I’m not sure if you had a chance to browse through the site, but we have LOTS of videos of our physical therapy sessions. Take a look through,and let me know if you have any questions. Our son goes to 4 therapy appointments a week, so we’ll be posting lots more. Look forward to helping you any way we can.

      By the way, was your child born with Down syndrome? How old is he or she?

      We also have a great Facebook page where you can connect with great parents as well —>

      Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help. 🙂

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