Going slow

A new catchphrase has hit the world of parenting….it’s called Slow Parenting, an offshoot of the Slow Food movement, where everything to do with our fast-paced, super-hectic, I’ve-got-no-time-for-anything-anymore lifestyles is given the shove in favour of life in the slower lane…with time to smell the roses…

Funnily enough, the new Slow Parenting movement has been blamed on the world-wide recession…parents suddenly have tighter budgets, so the costly after-school and weekend activities have been given the chop; food prices are going up, so the backyard vegie garden is back in vogue. The downturn in the economic climate has seemingly forced some parents to stop outsourcing their children’s entertainment and activities and *shock horror* actually spend time with their kids themselves!

Sometimes I think that my own life couldn’t actually get any slower, but just recently, I have realised that if not slow down, I could at least simplify and free up some of my time. Basically I suppose I’m talking about rejigging my priorities.

I think it started when we were away on holidays just recently…spending time with family and friends and a lot more time with my hubby, invariably meant that I was tied to my laptop a lot less often. The forum that I used to visit a hundred times a day has hardly had a visit; neither have the myriad other websites that used to make up my daily trawl. I was also given a new book on bread making that suddenly reignited my passion for baking and so I leapt into the world of sourdough…and you REALLY can’t get much slower than baking with sourdough!

Anyway, one warm and sunny afternoon, I found myself sitting down with thoughts streaming out of my head and onto paper…madly scribbling down all the things that I needed to do to bring me to a better place as a wife, as a mother, and, as, well, just me. Some of the things are about getting back to basics – like my newfound sourdough obssession…there is something deeply and immensely satisfying about handcrafting your own loaf from just three ingredients – flour, water and salt. Some things are about trying to save money by doing things for myself – like taking on my own vegetable and herb garden…the only problem with that one is that I hate getting my hands dirty…yep, that’s right…an instant FAIL for Parenting 101!

Some things are about saving time, or rather, making time – like cutting down my TV and internet time so that I can spend more time on other things like reading and devising simple art and craft activities to do with my 18 month old daughter. Some things are about taking time to nurture my spirit. For me, this means setting aside some time each day for prayer and meditation – something I have often struggled to be consistent with. And some things are just about making life beautiful – planting a flower garden as well as having a vase of flowers inside the house too.

Some friends of mine, even before they had children, introduced us to the idea of ‘Magic Moments’. Every day, before dinner, as they sat around the table, they each reflected about one magical moment that they had experienced that day, something that made them stop and smile and savour the beauty that is life itself in all its simple, everyday ordinary-ness. It didn’t have to be something mind-blowingly amazing, in fact, more often it was simply something small and beautiful that they would otherwise have forgotten in a busy, hectic day. Perhaps a beautiful sunrise, a smile from a stranger, the laughter of children playing or the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread. Actually up until now, I’d forgotten how nice it was to celebrate the magic moments of daily life in this way…perhaps it’s something else to go on my slow schedule.

My hope is that the new wave of slowness that is seemingly washing over the world of parenting, may eventually trickle down right to the baby days as well. I think that the tendency to fast-track kids through childhood affects babies the most – they are forced to wean prematurely from the breast (the WHO recommends that babies are breastfed for at least two years); they are forced to prematurely soothe themselves to sleep and they are forced into premature separation from their parents. How much more satisfying and nourishing would childhood be if it was left to occur unhurried, undisturbed…

So if the recession is forcing people to slow down, to simplify, to spend more time with their kids, then bring it on I say! For my part, as I sit here, in front of a computer screen, although life here is already slow, I realise that it can also be more nourishing and more fulfilling and that the choice is mine to make. My sourdough is gently warming near the dwindling fire, ready to bake a fresh loaf of bread tomorrow; the lime tart that I baked earlier today is cooling on the kitchen bench and the playful afternoon that I spent with my daughter at the park has helped to ease her into a sound and peaceful slumber. Sounds pretty good to me already…

2 responses to this post.

  1. I found the burst of domesticity when I had children amazing. I’m still no good at cleaning, but I now bake and sew. I’d love to have a herb garden, but I have a black thumb and I’m a bit scared to kill yet another set of plants. It’s wonderful to see my little girl wearing something I’ve made her. The seams aren’t finished very well and it might be very simple, but she loves the butterfly skirt she ‘helped’ me make.

    I find I tend to swing between extremes. I spend some time focusing solely on my kids and their needs, then I start to get a bit stir crazy. I do things ridiculously late at night because that’s the only time I get, then I’m tired and the next day is harder, so I do less interesting things, and that makes it harder and more boring for all of us. Usually a weekend with my husband home can help me snap out of it, but I find it really difficult to find that balance.

    I like the idea of magic moments. I recently had some time with a counsellor when I was talking about the lack of ‘me time’ and the resentment I feel. When we went through my week I discovered there was actually a lot of time there, but I didn’t use it particularly well or notice it. So at the moment I’m concentrating on being aware of my time off, even if it’s only five minutes here and there. And to appreciate it – if I choose to spend time on the computer rather than sewing, I consciously try to enjoy it rather than thinking I’m ‘missing out.’ And if I feel like I’m missing out, I try to walk away and do something.


  2. Posted by plahski on May 19, 2009 at 11:07 am

    There is nothing like baking a fresh loaf or gardening for the afternoon! Sometimes we get into a rut with our daughter because she has developmental problems that sort of mean that phases are pretty stretched out. She isn’t walking or crawling yet and doesn’t speak so we are kind of waiting for the faster pace. Personally I just can’t wait to run around after her making sure she isn’t getting into things she shouldn’t and all of that fun stuff!


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