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Slow Parenting: How Do You Slow Down?

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.

Three year old boyThat 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?

Siblings playing on the beach



  1. Rebecca June 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I didn’t know it was a “movement,” but by the looks of it, I’ve raised my son the slow way. It really is what you read: quality of quantity. A walk to the farmer’s market, going to the grocery store, gardening, cooking, etc. I let me son, who’s now almost 11, lead the way with his interests. He’s tried soccer and karate, but it didn’t “click,” so I let it go. This past year, he joined a chess club and loved it. He’s in GATE at his school and super smart. He loves to read. I guess my best advice is what I mentioned earlier, let your child lead to the way. Are they happy and relaxed? Because that is what really matters. Happy parenting to you!!

  2. Stephanie July 26, 2015 at 1:50 am

    I definitely am guilty of moving too fast; my son can see how busy I am, and sometimes, I become so overwhelmed by work and graduate school and life that my 3.5 year old gets swept along. I started reading this at Affimity, and of course it hit home. As mothers, we never mean to = I mean, he is my reason for working two jobs and going back for my MBA – but it happens. So, at least once a day, I take at least an hour to do puzzles with him, walk with him – as long as he is the center. He loves it and on those days, he’s a lot more tolerant of my working too much. Thank you for this post; it’s so relevant.

  3. hatti miller July 16, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    I try to have two to three planned activities a week and then the rest of the time we can just wing it. I think it’s important to not have to load up my kids daily to take them places. We have two mornings that are lazy and we take our time doing anything and I check in with them weekly about what they enjoy and don’t enjoy. It helps not having to work and I can just focus on them 100%. However, I do have to give myself permission to do a couple activities a week that are just for myself. Makes me more relaxed and it gives them special time with their dad.

  4. Mia Angela February 25, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences! I hope your family’s doing great.

    I think it is also worthwhile to take into consideration the kind of lifestyle you as parents want to have. And then from there, you can tailor your specific parenting style.

    So if clutter and busy schedules aren’t your thing, then you can adapt slow parenting and find a win-win situation.

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