Thursday, April 8, 2010

Slow Parenting

Have you heard of the slow movement? Slow food, slow travel, a slower pace of life. I have been trying to engage in slow parenting. Since this is where I "think things out" here goes...

Professor Guttorm Fløistad is a major champion of the slow movement and summarizes the philosophy:

"The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal."

It is not possible for my family, or myself to have any peace when we are constantly running to and fro. Often I thought this class, or that activity would be so wonderful for the kids. It is even more tempting if you homeschool. School is flexible, so why not stuff the day with a bazillion learning activities? For me it came from a good place of wanting to enrich my children's lives with every good thing. Every good thing doesn't have to be our thing.

Ultimately, being idle is good for my kids. It brings out their natural sense of play and discovery. We need to rest, reflect and just spend time together chatting and laughing. I don't want our house to be grand central station, where all the members of the family are just "passing through" on their way to other destinations. I want for our family to BE the destination. Far too soon all my little birdies will be itching to leave the nest. While they want to, I want to gather in the nest and make memories. There is much to be said for blowing bubbles out in the backyard.

For the past year or so we have been drop outs from the structured activity scene. I was getting burnt out, and things weren't running smoothly at home. I talked to the kids about it, and they felt the same way. I started being very picky about what events we committed to. When we put things on the schedule we started focusing more on small play dates, more casual venues. I don't want to spend their childhood with my finger on the fast forward button. I think if I did, at the end of it all I would feel robbed. Don't get me wrong, we still have plenty of fun and activities with socialization. We aren't becoming hermits. We are just trying to achieve a kind of balance.

The downside to this is that there are people we used to see at the organized events, classes, park dates that I miss. I might have mentioned this too, I am not a great phone person. I dunno if I am just so completely unable to multitask, but I just suck at it. I think the kids can sense when the phone goes off the cradle and immediately there are three emergencies. There are only so many days in a week, and I don't want to over schedule us, but my new challenge is to find a way to stay connected and in touch with people we love without running us all ragged attending every event in town. :)


Carrie Thompson said...

we are on our way too! I am trying so hard but it is a lot to unentangle yourself from LIFE. Right! I liked this post. Yesterday Emily played on the front porch with a friend, us parents left teh door open and of course were watching them but they carried all teh toys out there and set up camp! They were so busy! It was a wonderful afternoon! I came into my bedroom and kate and matt were both snuggled into my bed reading a stack of books between them! I LOVE IT!

Brenda said...

Us too!! And my oldest complains about having "no friends" from time to time so I have to remind her how she's sees her church friends twice a week, book club friends, playdate friends, cousins, etc. etc. etc. Oh, she says.
When we all finally got used to being home (REALLY hard if you are used to running to school and daycare all the time), they have not stopped being busy. Now they don't want to go much of anywhere. :) I take that to mean they are happy.

Jennifer said...


I LOVE days like that!


I too find that the kids are still super busy, but they are busy in imaginative play. There is nothing better for their brains :)

Hen Jen said...

I agree, and I think the Amish are onto something with their simple is best lifestyle.

I totally hear you about outside activities and the urge to enrich with activities. We had dropped out of the co-op scene years ago because I just had to many kids of diff. ages and it was hard to get out with babies and toddlers. This year I jumped back into one, and boy was it stressful to have that commitment every week. I am looking forward to having a much slower summer and new school year.

great post!

Annie said...

There's something to be said for slowing down and living life. I haven't started homeschooling yet, but already I see the urge to get the kids involved in all sorts of activities. Afterall, we want them socialized, right ;) The approach we decided on was to let them each pick one activity to be part of at first, get our schooling underway and see where that leads us. This movement sounds like one I need to keep learning mroe about...thanks!

The Fischer Family said...

Hi Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'd love to have you join the Family Night Fun Friday meme! I'll be putting up the first Mr. Linky this Friday, I'm not sure what time but keep an eye out! Til Friday!

H-Mama said...

Carrie directed me to this great post of yours! {Thanks, Carrie!} Wonderful post... so, so true!

Samvach said...

I completely agree with you. As homeschoolers, we are so tempted to be in a co-op, take outside classes, be in many social activities...pretty soon, the HOME is taken completely out of homeschool. Over the past two years, I scaled WAY back on our outside commitments and it's been a tremendous blessing to my family. Good post!

All American x5 said...

I agree completely! We used to have that same problem but really have enjoyed stepping back and enjoying each other not rushing to the activity.

Thanks for stopping by and I am now following.

Carol J. Alexander said...

Slow food. That's what we eat. Don't even own a microwave :)
Great post.

Virginia (Jenny) said...

I know what you mean. I have to ALWAYS so down and remind myself to because I keep forgetting. Goodness. Kids grow fast.

Ellen said...

This post seems directed at me, especially with all we have going on right now. My conundrum is how to slow down and extricate ourselves from activities, commitments, etc., when *I'm* the leader. I hate letting people down, but continuing at our current pace is not a good option. Gag.

Jamie said...

I love this post. I am social but I absolutely HAVE to have my downtime, too, and I get really cranky when we have too much running around. My youngest is the same way. My older daughter would love to be going, going all the time, so it's sometimes a fine line in keeping everyone happy. :)

Jeanne said...

Oh, I so agree.

The battle for me is letting things go. I really should do as you did and drop everythnig, but I'm just not ready to get out of that driver's seat. Well, perhaps I am closer now that I've read this.

Great post.

Tiana said...

What a wonderful post!

I found you on the Carnival of Homeschooling earlier this week and it really got me thinking...I linked to you in my blog yesterday: