Do you find yourself rushing from one activity to the next? Is “busy” your default answer when someone asks, “How are you?” Do you feel like there’s so little time and so much to get done? Yep, me too. And I don’t think we’re alone.
Modern life is fast and furious. We are over-committed, over-scheduled and over-connected. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice. We can create space. We can slow down. And it begins with a conscious shift and a willingness to say “no” to busy and “yes” to leisurely.
About a year ago I read a fascinating book that had a major impact on how I parent and how I live. Carl Honoré is the author of Under Pressure – rescuing our children from the culture of hyper- parenting. He’s the man who coined the term Slow Parenting and he’s all about putting the child back into childhood. If you are in Australia you may have seen the recent ABC series in which Honoré guided three families, stressed out by hectic lives, towards a slower life. Before I finished the first chapter I was sold. Sold on the theory of slowing down. Sold on the theory of Slow Parenting. Sold on not overscheduling my kids’ lives. And sold on living life, rather than racing through it. I immediately made changes to my lifestyle and exchanged busy for slow by moving to the country and living a Zen existence. Well, not quite….
But I did become more conscious of the harried pace of my life and I made some significant changes. I implemented Slow Sundays and I want to share this with you today. During the week it is hard to find down time. There’s little time to “hang out” and routine dictates our existence. There is pressure on all of us to be busy, to do a million things and to maintain a pace that is not sustainable. But for our own health and well being and for strong family connections, we all need to slow down. And this is what Slow Sundays is all about.
My greatest tip for a happier family life
I am a big believer in keeping Sundays activity-free. We don’t rush off anywhere and we move slowly. The week is so busy with school, kinder and after-school commitments, it’s crucial to carve out some slow time on the weekend to replenish and recharge. By making this a weekly ritual it teaches kids about the importance of down time and of not over-scheduling our lives. The children can stay in their PJ’s till lunchtime if they like, and often, they do. It’s basically scheduled “unscheduled time” and it opens us up to going where the moment takes us. My kids adore Slow Sunday and it’s often during these slow times the true family magic happens.
We usually enjoy a creative activity on Slow Sundays. Getting out all the paints and brushes is less effort when you’ve got nowhere to be and plenty of time to create (and clean up!) Slow Sunday often involves some baking, which, with three eager assistants, is a lot more enjoyable without time constraints. These slow and relaxed days allow us more time to draw, read, ponder, and more time for lingering cuddles.
“Those who take time to be slow are the ones who are able to cope better when things speed up”
My girls understand that these days are special and they appreciate the significance of free, unstructured play. For the most part, the children immerse and amuse themselves in child’s play. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoy reading my book on Slow Sundays, because, after all, parents need some down time too. Most of all we simply enjoy a break from harried pace of the week. And this is the perfect formula for family bonding.
“Live your life rather than racing through it”
Carl Honoré says: “Slow Parenting is about bringing balance into the home. Children need to strive and struggle and stretch themselves but that does not mean childhood should be a race. Slow parents give their children plenty of time and space to explore the world on their own terms. They keep the family schedule under control so that everyone has enough downtime to rest, reflect and just hang out together.”
“Slow” in this context does not mean doing everything at a snail’s pace. It means doing everything at the right speed. Because when you take time to be slow, you are able to cope better when things speed up. Carving out some unhurried time is one of the best things you can do for you family. And that is why Slow Sundays are the highlight of my week.
Are you mindful of the busy pace of your life? Do you feel like you’re always rushing? How do you find time for Slow?