Slow living. Is that actually a thing? Because does anything about life and being a mom feel ‘slow?!’
From the early morning school hustle, gobbling toast while wrangling a two-year-old into socks, downing your morning espresso with a baby on the breast, all the while making your kid a peanut butter sandwich for his lunch box. The day continues at the same exhausting pace, passing in a blur of obligations, balancing work and home life. Collapsing into bed every night unsure of how you got through the day. You accomplished so many things, ticked so many boxes, but, upon reflection, were any of them enjoyable? Were you able to fully immerse yourself in anything? Did you experience anything with all five senses? Even with many interactions throughout the day, were any of them quality? Meaningful? Did you enjoy being a mom today?
In trying to be the best moms, wives, employees, and friends, it’s easy to spend our days hustling, trying to do it all, trying to be everything to everyone. We want it all to be perfect, so we balance, run, frantically ticking jobs off lists, putting our own needs last, and writing it all off as those ‘crazy motherhood days.’
Friends, family, and those well-intentioned onlookers always tells us ‘The days are long, but the years are short. Treasure when the kids are small because they grow so fast.’ Is it possible to slow down the pace of our daily lives? Enjoy less, but more meaningful experiences with our children, and gain greater pleasure from the journey of motherhood?
Wendy Parkins and Craig Geoffrey, coauthors of Slow Living, write that ‘Slow living is a lifestyle emphasizing slower approaches to aspects of everyday life.’
We can identify moments or activities during each day to which we give our full attention. Whether it’s cooking a meal from scratch, sitting enjoying a pot of tea, immersing ourselves in kiddie-led craft, or simply walking together hand-in-hand enjoying a conversation. These moments offer us a way to stay grounded, to be in the moment, and also find inner peace. And what mama doesn’t need a little extra Zen at times? When we slow things down, we gain a deeper appreciation of the simple things.
As with most aspects of motherhood, I believe it comes down to picking your moments. Identifying certain aspects of your life and daily routine to perform with intention and purpose. Try taking the time to prepare food and eating whole, locally-sourced foods, prepared from scratch. Feeling, smelling, and tasting the ingredients. Maybe it’s making tea or coffee, grinding those fresh beans, hearing the water boil and the coffee brewing. Consumed at leisure, enjoying the rich flavour. Maybe it’s doing the laundry. Hanging it out on the clothes line in the garden rather than putting it in the electric dry. It takes ten minutes more, but that morning sunshine, the choirs of the birds, the smell of spring blossoms for ten quiet minutes allows you to breath deeply. These times sustain us.
My Top 3 Tips for Slow Living with Kids:
- Try to allow the family to relax and enjoy quality time together on the weekend. Don’t over-schedule activities for the kids, or be tempted to cram the hours with play dates and excursions.
- Find what brings you joy and peace. Then plan and carve out times during the day when you can perform these activities. The peace will help carry you through the toddler meltdowns and the bed and bath hustle.
- Explore nature. This doesn’t need to mean a family hike. It can be relaxed time at home in your garden, relaxing by an evening camp fire. Having a picnic in your local park, or letting the kids stay up a bit later to look at the stars (or watch for bats, in my son’s case).
Ultimately there is no one way of describing the external indicators of slow living because there is no one way to live a slower, simpler life. Any way we can bring peace into our lives, gain deep enjoyment, and enjoy quality time and interactions with our favourite people. So let’s strive to soak up these early motherhood days. Let’s embrace mindfulness in pursuit of a whole lot less busyness, and being happier, healthier, mums.
For more info on the slow living movement, read Brooke McAlary’s Slow is the New Black.