Posts Tagged 'Slow Family Living'

Finding our Groove

Photo Credit: Lavinia Marin at http://www.sxc.hu

Sometimes I feel like a bit of an imposter. As much as we try to slow things down, life just seems to speed up.

It’s the end of a full week of having the Bear in Kindergarten. Banana also started ‘school’ this week at a community-based childcare centre. She will only be going one day a week. But the amount of labeling, shopping for school supplies, filling out of paper work and driving has been over-whelming. MJ and I have also started our own courses and work is piling up. Then there is end-of-year garden duties and processing of veggies. We’ve ended the week exhausted with all of us feeling a little sick. Not good.

But I have to look at the positive. Thank goodness we’ve avoided out-of-school activities. I can’t imagine the pressure of having either/both the girls in another activity. And soon the frost will be here and the garden will sleep until spring giving us some rest.

So, as MJ and I struggle to keep our heads above water, I have to be grateful that we’re healthy and organized enough to manage this time of year. This is a time for adjustments. It’s time to find a new groove after warm, casual summer days.

As the wonderful women at Slow Family Living ask families, “Is this working for you?” And now that we are somewhat settled, I can answer, ‘yes’. Yes, there has been some headache getting organized, but we’ll be okay. We’ve found our groove again.

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I’m Just Busy Slowing Down

I missed this past Saturday’s Slow it Down Challenge. (Sorry) The reason? Well, we were simply too busy.

This has left me wondering – again – how the tactics we use to slow down actually make it feel like life is speeding up. In the past year we have made a conscious effort to simplify our lives – less toys, less structured activities, home-cooked meals, maintaining our one-car status, minimal screen time, driving less, etc. But in reality, I confess that it feels like we have created much more work than before. I mean seriously, I have 50 tomato plants occupying half of my kitchen counter. No wonder I’m frustrated when we do the baking!

One part of me wonders if another way of life would actually be easier. A sort of ‘the grass is greener’ perspective – maybe life is easier with convenience meals, a big house, kids in loads of activities so that we wouldn’t have them around all day, a TV to rely on when there is need for down time?

But I know in my heart that what we would gain in convenience, we would lose in connecting with one another. I also know that this is a surefire way to create a family with the perspective that life is about finding shortcuts with the aim of packing in as much as you can.

As I was trying to reconcile this issue of ‘busy life’ within the construct of ‘living slowly,’ I was reading through the Slow Family Living website. One of their posts suggests asking oneself the following:

Think of a day, an hour, a moment even when you felt “ah, this is what family life is all about.” Describe it in detail…
1. What were the elements or the pieces involved?
2. What was the feeling?
3. In what ways can you bring those elements into daily life?

When I consider this question, I think about all the ‘busy’ times at home – the Bear and I wrapped up in tomato plants and flour in the kitchen, MJ chatting with us while doing the dishes, Banana chasing the new dog…. And I think, this is good. This is how I want our family life to be. It might be busy and a little frustrating and certainly chaotic. But when I think of the alternative – perhaps sitting in traffic on the way to music lessons on the other side of the city with the kids in the backseat whining, working such long hours that we don’t have the time or energy to read bedtime stories to the girls, a tasteless convenience meal – I am grateful for that busy time at home.

The Value of the Pause

If you’re not convinced yet, or perhaps need a reminder, I wanted to post this video about the value of slowing down. The video is of Carrie Contey from Slow Family Living at the Austin TED talk. If you don’t think you have time to watch the video, consider that it might be a sign that you need to watch it.

Taking a break to rejuvenate is as important to our children’s development as it is to us. In my opening post to Tortoise on the Loose, I mention how children are reflective of their parents – if we want them to slow down, we need to do so also.

By and large, slowing down is my most pressing challenge. In a weird twist, our efforts to ‘slow down’ have resulted in a lot more work – I’m cooking, baking and gardening more. The advantage is that it is work that can involve the girls (the Bear loves to play the game, ‘match the socks’ when we fold laundry!) But I do need regular pauses. And a pause, for me, is something that is separate from household work and parenting.

In the afternoon, just after lunch, we all have rest time – Banana always naps and the Bear will sometimes nap or just read stories on her bed. In this time, I always take time for me. I read, write or sleep and try to ignore the pull of things that need to be done.

I’ve quickly learned to leave behind any guilt in taking this time for myself. For me, this pause helps remind me that my identity is more than ‘mother.’ I need this time to decompress and, like Contey talks about, to ‘be’ rather than ‘do.’ This video was a nice reminder that there is power in a pause; a pause sustains and rewards. It also makes me a much more cheerful parent in the afternoon!


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