Slow Parenting: How Do You Slow Down?
About two hours into our recent trip to IKEA, my 3-year-old son had enough. My husband and I knew we were risking a toddler meltdown but we pleaded for just a little more time so we could find our items and checkout. I was on the verge of tears myself. It was Father’s Day and our annual family hike was rained out. We thought we’d take advantage of the bad weather to finally get the storage units and furniture for the basement playroom project we’ve been working on since winter. But we forgot to take in the big picture.
The week leading up to Father’s Day was the busiest yet and the focus was on our 8-year-old daughter. She had dance rehearsals, dance photos, soccer skills assessments, her final days of school, and, finally, her dance recital. We were all exhausted. But Owen felt it the worst. We were distracted parents and he was going to let us know by misbehaving and throwing tantrums. It all came to a head on the floors of IKEA. And I wanted to join him.
That night in bed, I read this article about the benefits of slow parenting. As the article states, “Loosely, slow parenting means no more rushing around physically and metaphorically, no more racing kids from soccer to violin to art class. Slow parenting cherishes quality over quantity, being in the moment, and making meaningful connections with your family.” If you had asked me my views on parenting pre-kids, this is exactly how I would have described my “future” parenting style. And for my first few years as a mom, this is ultimately how it went.
But as my daughter grew up, her interests grew and her life got increasingly more packed with activities – dance, soccer, school, playdates. Where once we played in the yard for hours, we now rush from activity to activity. I questioned whether her sports and activities schedule is too much, but she’s thrived in both her activities and in school. My son, however, still needs that “free” time – time to explore in an unstructured way and learn to slow down by example. Of course, the whole family benefits from having meaningful family connections – though I’d like them to occur more than just once a week!
I love the idea of slow parenting but I’m not sure how to step it back. Do I limit my daughter’s commitments even though she is thriving? Do I carve out more family time or one-on-one time with my son? How do you slow down? I’d love advice from those who have tried or are thriving in the slow parenting movement?
- E-family news: Children’s Schedule – Not Enough, Too Much or Just Right?
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Over-scheduled Kids?
- Read more posts about family routine from the Family Room bloggers