Several years ago I found myself drowning in commitments: MOPS, teaching classes, playdates, hosting meetings at our house, youth group staff, other church commitments…the list was neverending. With a two year old and an infant I finally hit the point where I knew I couldn’t keep up the insanity. That was my turnaround point. I began ruthlessly pruning commitments and two years later I am finally in a place of peace. I discovered that if I’m not vigilant, new commitments creep in and cramp my life. Keeping a watchful eye on our schedule is crucial to my family’s happiness and stress level. So for several years I’ve been purposefully guiding my family in a direction that is, well, different from most families I know. Sometimes I wish I knew more other families (I do know some) like mine who are trying to live life differently from the rest of the fast paced world. Then today I stumbled across something that struck such a chord with me that I just have to share it here.
Slow Parenting. I generally hate labels. Even when I fit a label, I shy away from using the name. I don’t use the word “green” to describe my environmental efforts. I don’t know why that word annoys me. I hesitate to jump on bandwagons. But this is the first I’ve heard of a parenting style that is exactly what I’m trying to do within our family. Finally I’ve found a group of parents out there who are like me. Here’s a brief explanation:“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. They accept that bending over backwards to give children the best of everything may not always be the best policy. Slow parenting means allowing our children to work out who they are rather than what we want them to be. “Slow parents understand that childrearing should not be a cross between a competitive sport and product-development. It is not a project; it’s a journey. Slow parenting is about giving kids lots of love and attention with no conditions attached.” – Carl Honoré, the author of “The Power of Slow: Finding Balance and Fulfillment Beyond the Cult of Speed,” and “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting.”
There are so many aspects of my life in which I feel like I’m swimming upstream from the rest of the world. Some areas are related to my faith and the resulting differences from others in the world, while other areas have to do with our choices to generally slow down and savor life while so many around us in Orange County are striving to succeed in the fast lane. I’m not interested in the fast lane; I’d rather stand on the side of the road and look at the scenery. I’d like to do a set of future posts on how I’m embracing this “slower” lifestyle (parenting and otherwise) and how it’s working (or not working!) for us. I’d be interested in hearing from any of you about specific ways you’re embracing a slower lifestyle. I’m just so glad to find out that maybe there’s a movement beginning out there that’s encouraging us to slow down and savor life…I think our children will thank us.