Slow life down to human speed
Today’s task is to slow life down to human speed. Modern life is often racing at the speed of technology, not the speed of human beings. Especially not the speed of young children.
What is the speed of your family life right now?
I think it’s useful to simplify in any way that you can while you’re still in the early years. A life centered in the home with plenty of time to play and go through the daily routines is perfect for the preschool years. In a few years if you decide to homeschool in the grades you will be glad you spent the early years cultivating a slow family life. In the big picture, spending the first seven years creating a stable home and family life is an excellent and worthwhile investment.
We adults are pretty used to a very fast-paced and busy culture - multitasking, sacrificing sleep, extending the day and work hours with artificial lights, media, overlooking the rhythms of nature and the needs of our bodies, and a constant stream of demands and stimulation. This causes stress and overwhelm for adults, but I think young children in particular need to be protected.
Everything we’ve discussed so far - connecting, protecting time for play, going outside, nurturing bedtime routines - takes time to accomplish. It takes a willingness to bring some order and rhythm into your family life. For some parents, it might take a willingness to say “no” to other things which are taking up a lot of time in the day.
The needs of the young child are fairly time-consuming and can’t be rushed through. Preschoolers need time to learn the basics of self-care (how to dress and brush teeth), how to be a member of the family, and how to manage themselves in social situations. It takes time to learn how to tie shoes, pump on the swing, fix yourself a snack, sit at the table at a restaurant, work out a problem with a friend, and any number of different things. They need time to play, go outside, and rest everyday. And they most especially need to have close connected relationships with their parents.
Real relationships take time. You might be able to call a good friend every few months for a good chat and pick things up right where you left off, but your young child can’t do that. She needs you to invest in the relationship every day in order to feel a healthy connection.
It can definitely feel frustrating when every task in the day takes much longer than it seems like it should. Getting coats and shoes on to go outside, feeding all those meals and snacks and cleaning up again, getting your child down for nap or rest, taking a walk in the neighborhood, bath time….all these simple moments in your preschooler’s day really do take quite a lot of time. It’s easy to get through the day and feel like you have accomplished nothing!
But really, each and every one of those everyday moments is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to connect and teach. It’s an opportunity to just be with your child in this very short precious window of early childhood. It’s an opportunity for your little one to have a slow, thriving, magical childhood. Celebrate this time that you have with your preschooler!
How to slow life down to human speed:
1. Think about the pace of your family life. Is it slow and thriving? Does it match with the vision you created in step one? If not….
2. Evaluate all of your out-of-the-house activities. Get really clear on what is sustaining your family and what is draining your family - and eliminate anything in the latter category.
3. How much time do you spend running errands? Consider whether you can eliminate or consolidate any running around.
4. Think about how much you’re on the computer (or phone) during the day. Checking email and social media throughout the day can make you feel scattered and distracted and pull you away from a steady pace of life. Do you need some boundaries for yourself?
5. You might face a lot of pressure as your child goes into the preschool years to start signing up for lessons, activities, or a preschool program. Do your best to build community with like-minded parents so you have support for the choices you make. Even one good friend or online group can make a big difference in helping you stay grounded when you choose not to go the mainstream crazy-busy route.
What are your challenges in cultivating a slow family life? What is the biggest tip you can share?