There’s a lot in the news right now about slow family and slow parenting and how the time has come to slow things down at home – to back off the fast track of over-extending the family’s time and energy and resources too. It’s welcome news to many and can only bode well for families and for children across the country who are taking this opportunity to have more down time at home with their own thoughts and with their families too. The idea of slowing family life down though can be more than just a reaction to another method, it can be a really sustainable way to live family life and a way to build and maintain lifelong family connection.
The idea of Slow Family Living came to us after a class on creating a family mission statement. So many of the couples in attendance were realizing, after going over the questions in the mission statement workbook, that they wanted more control of what went on in their family’s life. They were signed up for activities and had signed on for events that didn’t bring them any closer to living family life in the way they wanted family life to feel. Things such as excessive practices for sports or random birthday parties or too many after-school clubs and activities were all taking too much away rather than enhancing it in any way. And all in attendance felt that too often family time took a back seat to the many and varied pressures of modern day family life.
We joked that like Slow Food, there needed to be Slow Family. A way for families to find connection and comfort in the home. That afternoon we wrote the manifesto for Slow Family Living. The words and ideas seemed to come through us, not from us, from the very core of both the practical and scientific things we had learned about family life and human development.
In the two years since we created Slow Family Living, we have held many workshops and classes for families in an effort to help them find ways to create THEIR slow family life. Slow Family Living doesn’t offer a prescription for living, rather it is our goal to offer families the tools, ideas and inspiration to find out how THEY want family life to look and feel. And the results can look different in every household. The one thing that remains the same however, no matter how it’s played out, is that the idea that Slow Family Living offers families the chance to slow down, connect and truly enjoy family life. To live a joyful family life that will be sustainable for a lifetime of family connection.
Slow Down Slowing down is not just a good idea but also a necessity in human development. It is about taking time in the midst of all that goes on to integrate all that is seen, heard, learned and felt in the course of a day – for children especially but for adults too. The slow down is the pause that is taken after the information is received. The slow down is the pause before the reaction to a person or occurrence. The slow down is the pause in activities that allows families to get together and truly see, hear and understand each other. The slow down is the pause around all of the doing – the part that allows us to simply be. To take those pauses individually and collectively, can only enhance all aspects of who we are as individuals and as a family too.
Connect This is the goal. When we have small children we think this is where we will always be – in this stage we are currently in. But if life is a yard stick, then childhood is just a couple of inches and before we blink we have adults with whom we hope to have lifelong connection. Make time for connection now while you are all under the same roof and from there that connection can continue for a lifetime. Look at each other. Listen to each other. Schedule time together. Make family life the priority and give the connection the space that it truly needs in order to be sustainable. Connect with yourself first and ask, “Is this working for me? For us?” From that connection with self, can come the connection with each and every family member – your partner and your children too. Even in times of hurried living, which family life is sometimes wont to do, we can create connection in the midst of it all by creating our intentions around the connection. Add ritual to the chauffer time, play games around seeing each other, add word games that allow each other glimpses of the family – as individuals and as an entity too.
Enjoy This is the goal. You created this family. Why not enjoy it? Inject play into what you do. Spend time together that is fun and loving too. Even the work can be made fun if that is our intention. Again ask, “Is this working for us?” Ask yourself too, “How am I feeling right now?” And then, “How do I want to feel?” Is the way things are going how you want them to go? Is it too much? Too hectic? Too divided? Can you shift it? If yes, do it. If not, figure out how to make it work for the family in a way that will make it more enjoyable. Appreciate yourself and each other and from that appreciation the joy will come.
Slow Family Living does not have to take a major shift in lifestyle or activity. It is about finding ways to live the Slow Family Life that works for you and your family. If you want to know more about finding ways to live YOUR slow family life, please visit our website or download our Slow Family Living workbook, which will walk you through your family life and help you answer the question, is this working for us?
Bernadette Noll is a writer and mother of four and co-founder of Slow Family Living along with Carrie Contey, PhD in pre-natal and peri-natal psychology.