Over three years ago now, I read about a concept called ‘Slow Parenting’ – a topic which I researched quite a lot and wrote a blog post about at the time. The premise is about not feeling the need to over-schedule our children and give them time to just ‘be’. It’s something that has stayed with me ever since then and an approach I have become more and more converted to since becoming a mother for a second time. With Little Z, we did no classes on the days Little H was at nursery – we lived to our own schedule and routine and her development has in no-way been impacted by that decision. But I digress… The reason I raise this is because over the last 12 months or so I have been reading a lot about those who themselves embrace ‘Slow Living’. It is something which immediately appealed to me.
My maternity leave last year fundamentally changed my approach to life. As I relaxed into letting Little Z live as she needed to, I relaxed in my approach to everything else. I became a fan of blogger Emma Ross – or Mamalina as she is also known – who in her own words is “Living and parenting slowly and sustainably.”. I started to heed some of her sage words around what she called a “zero plans day”. Through the nature of these things, as I explored posts and articles shared by Emma, I found a broad community of people who subscribe to Slow Living. And whilst an online view is often an glossy view of life, these people did sound more generally relaxed and contented with their lives.
I can’t confess to being in a regular state of zen. I don’t meditate (although I probably should but we’ll save that for another post), I don’t regularly practice yoga (although I do miss my postnatal Pilates classes) and I don’t sit drinking herbal teas surrounded by candle light (fire risk and Sam dislikes the flickering!). The reality is I am a goal-driven person and a sense of accomplishment is important for me. But over recent months I have spent time trying to redefine what I deem to be an accomplishment. I have changed my approach to household chores so I do little-and-often rather than letting things reach ‘crisis point’ which simply result in a larger job under more pressured circumstances. I have also accepted that not everything is possible so I am much clearer on what I need to do versus what I simply want to do.
The result – so far my life seems to be more in control, organised and cleaner but with far less stress. My new habits take an amount of time which I have become accustomed to, on set days and at routine times. So, once the ‘chores’ are done, I have actual time to sit with my girls to play without tasks weighing on my mind. On Fridays when the girls and I are together, we let the day run its course and are just as happy whether we end up staying local to the house all day or whether we suddenly discover we have a clear block of nap-free-time when we can make it into town for a quick tea and gingerbread man. On occasion, I even find block of time to do things which are important to me personally, such as spending time tending to my garden. In all my years of parenting, this is the first time in my life that I have found myself thinking on a few occasions: “I don’t think there is anything I need to do. Shouldn’t I be doing something?”. It’s a delightful feeling and I hope it long continues!