When our oldest was born I had no clue what Helicopter, Attachment, Authoritarian, Permissive, Glider, Conscience or Hyper parenting were. All I knew was I loved holding and kissing my little one every moment. I did have an idea of how I wanted to raise our young one and with time that plan has been revised, remolded and redefined multiple times; for as we know kids come with their own personalities and what works for some others resistant.
We lived in the North Bay of California within easy access to the big city, lazy beaches and majestic mountains. We found we were no longer lured in by the amenities of the city but rather captivated by the peaceful slow moving pace of the country. Our turn of heart is shared by many who escape the congestion and noise of the busy streets for that of suburbia in a noble quest to raise their family. However, many families whom have jumped on the band wagon with dreams of the perfect family life behind the white picket fence in the Burbs or country, have discovered the grass does not always stay greener on the other side. They are coming away from the experience just as overwhelmed as before. The fact is families who dwell in the city as well as those in the country pack too much into their lives.
Did “Mary Poppins” and “Hook” not teach us the value of slowing down? I am reminded of the lyrics from the song “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol, “would you lie with me and just forget the world.” Take time out to forget the world. Turn off the electronics, the computers, cell phones, MP3 Players and TV. Sing another song, read the book as if you are present, use the time in the car to open up and connect with your children, go fly a kite.
Slowing down is a difficult decision to make. There is the PTA, deadlines, Classroom sign ups, homework, housework, holidays, family, friends, sports and the list goes on and on. Slowing down does not mean you have to move to the woods and take up knitting and canning. If your family is happy with their present obligations it just means you may need to get a little more creative when it comes to fitting in quality family time. Slowing down means doing what works best for you and your family.
It has taken me five years to get over my perfectionist tendencies but much longer than that to find balance. I am one who tends to expend all my energy at once leaving me on empty for days or weeks at a time. When I was young and single it was not a problem; however, now that I am older and mom of three sensitive hyper-active children I cannot afford to check out. Sometimes that means ordering take out for dinner on game night or the evening the kids and I loose track of time. There are times I put the little ones in the bathtub a couple times during the day just so I can have time to breathe. I may even go to bed without doing the dishes because I would rather read to the kids. Finding balance sometimes requires making sacrifices.
Make the Time Count:
A friend of mine once described me as the type of person who never had enough hours in a day. I was up early. I retired late. The busier I was the more fulfilled I felt. Comedian Eddie Cantor once said, “Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” The question I needed to ask myself was “why the rush?” I was filling my day with mindless tasks that in retrospect were fun and made the time pass quicker but were unproductive.
I lived life to the fullest without a thought of where I was going and who I wanted to take with me. Making each moment count means understanding “where am I going?” and “how to get there?” Life is filled with decoys that stall us or hinder us from getting to the place we want to be. Take the journalist approach by asking the important questions relative to relationships both family and romantic, your job, and the person you want to become. Find ways to make those relationships more meaningful.
When time is of the essence we dare not waste it with decoys that give us limited relief. Leo Babauta the creator and writer of ZenHabits.net wrote, “slowing down is a way to incubate, conserve, and harvest our energy, not about relief from boredom by just watching more TV or going shopping” “We need leisure to rest, create, relate, and think.”
The Central Valley of California is a long way from the sandy warm beaches of Florida where I could cast off the stresses of my week and prepare for the oncoming onslaught of responsibilities. I found peace as the waves washed over me taking with them my fears and frustrations. I go there in my mind when my daily challenges build up so much they begin to suffocate me. I find that as I lie there daydreaming I can taste the salt in the air, feel the sand between my toes and hear the crashing of the waves. I feel more relaxed after a hike in the woods or my virtual reality at the beach than an hour spent on the internet or watching a show.
Forget the Jones’:
Lastly, stop the guilt. Sometimes it is ok to ignore the schedule. Stop living a fast life and start living a good life. If we have learned anything at all these past few years in a down turned economy is that less is more. Less gadgets and toys equals more creativity. Less scheduled activities more play time, think the Sandlot. Hopefully one day less meaningless homework and more time to be a kid.
The slow movement is moving beyond the Attachment Parenting mentality that suggests we cater to every whim and need of our children. The slow-movement is bypassing Hyper-parenting that fueled the guilt we already felt by adding prenatal classical concerts in the womb in addition to a Doogie Howser mentality prompting parents to compete with one another over development milestones, pricey preschools and extra extra-curricular activities. The slow-movement is sailing over Helicopter moms who hover over their kids worrying about every bump scrape or bruise and who are responsible for the influx in child safety such as baby knee pads. While safety should be our top concern these little guys need to learn the right amount of independence proportionate to their age.
The slow-movement is getting away from a society super charged with “getting rich quick” and spending that wealth extravagantly. The slow-movement is steering kids away from cell phones and video games and directing their interests to building a treehouse in the back yard, allowing them to explore, providing downtime to relax especially after school and focusing more on family time; nature walks, bike rides, lying in bed and family game nights.
More and more families are taking the conscience parent approach to parenting. They are taking the reins raising their family according to the families needs rather than doing what someone else says they should do. “Conscious parenting is about tuning into your feelings, doing what feels right to you, finding ways to move toward balance, choosing connection, living with joy and gratitude, letting your love spill out all over the place, adopting an attitude of self-reflection, having loads and loads of compassion for yourself, your partner and your children and recognizing that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child.” Carrie Cotney PHD.
NY Times- Parenting: What is Slow Parenting.
Slow Down Now: a parody site.
A Holy Experience: religious references but the site is lovely and peaceful.
Ted: Video clip on why we should rethink our fast paced lives.
Playful Parenting: A book on how to make parenting fun.
Slow Family Living: A site dedicated to supporting the family.
Power of Slow: a web blog on slowing down.