Peaceful Parenting Part 4: Slowing Down
Part 4: Slowing Down
By: Charlotte Laila
This weeks Peaceful Parenting post is less of an informative post and more of a personal reflection on slowing things down and enjoying time as a family.
As I began writing this blog post we took a family trip to Seattle. Our last trip as the three of us before baby number two arrives in a few short months. I brought along the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, which has quickly become a new favourite. It addresses slowing your life down and simplifying your parenting. Which ended up being the perfect lesson I needed to learn on this trip.
On our trip to Seattle we did many fun things, it was my daughter's first time on an airplane, we got to ride a train daily to get from our hotel to the pier, we went up and checked out the Space Needle, we ate sea food at our favourite 'go-to' lunch spot we have to hit every time we visit Seattle: Crab Pot. We took a ride on the Ferris Wheel, added gum to the famous gum wall, walked everywhere and filled our days full of activities. One thing I noticed while we were there, particularly because we went on a long weekend meaning everything was packed full of people, was that Jane often became overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that was in front of her. And, she wasn't the only one to get overwhelmed, I too needed to take breaks throughout the day. Not just because I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy and needed to sit down, but because I felt bombarded with - stuff. So many shops filled with so many things, so many people mulling about, so many activities that we wanted to squeeze into our 4 day trip over the long weekend. So much going on around and to much stimulation.
With so much going on we found ourselves naturally taking time out of the trip just to sit together and chat as a family. We sat in the pier and ate fresh blue berries that we just picked up from Pike Place Market. That was a lot of fun and gave us to talk to each other and ask Jane what she thought about her first plane ride.
Another time we just headed back to our hotel, not for a nap but just for a break. We sat for an hour or two just quietly in our room decompressing from the hustle and bustle that was going on just outside our hotel. We did that both full days we were there actually, spent some time just in our hotel room for a break from the activities. Jane seemed to really like that time too. She sat on the bed playing with her two toy cars while I read my book and Chris read a few articles.
Not only was the rest needed for our bodies but it rejuvenated our minds as well and we were ready and excited to move onto the next activity for the day.
It's so important to add in some quiet time into our lives and slow down. As much as we could have squeezed in a few more activities in those quiet hours, like the aquarium or museum of Pop Culture, (which is on our list for next year's trip), we would have felt burnt out and Jane wouldn't have enjoyed our trip as much if we hadn't taken some time to slow down and rest.
We also wanted to give Jane some free time because with everything you do in a city your child needs to stay by your side, or if you're in a gift shop they can't touch this, or no we're not buying that, or at a restaurant she needs to sit in a booth and be quiet so she doesn't disturb others. Yes, trips are fun but we wanted her to have some time to just run around, make her own decisions and be a kid as well. So, one morning we got up early and headed to the park. Even though I am not a morning person and need a lot of time to get out of bed in the morning, taking that time to slow down and spend time at the part rather than rushing to our next activity was such a nice break.
Developmental psychologist David Elkind notes in his studies that children have lost over 12 hours of free time a week. They're constantly bombarded with activities, things to do, to watch to learn, to read. It's important to remember that having quiet space to relax, rejuvenate, learn a d grow is just as important, if not more than the overwhelm of activities and stuff we have. And that is because of us and what we as parent's are exposing them to.
What I learned on this trip was the importance of taking moments to slow down and have some quiet time. Which I will continue to do at home as well. Kids today are so overwhelmed with stuff. So many toys, so many television shows, so many activities packed in during the day or after school. What my daughter really needs is for us to slow down and spend time together playing and growing. We don't always need to be running around doing everything and filling our days with activities.
I challenge you this week to slow down. As much as we want to be all-stars and do everything all the time, there's something to be said about slowing down and resting with our kids. It gives them time to bond with you without the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. So, try and carve out a day or two this week where you have 15 to 30 minutes of calm, quiet and rest. Perhaps you start the morning together for breakfast or take some time during the day or after school that doesn't involve rushing around or being bombarded with stuff.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Along with this post, I want to share about downsizing and reducing the number of toys and amount of stuff your home so that your child enjoys their toys rather than having piles of toys that clutter up your home and never get played with. Stay tuned for that post coming soon!
If you like this post we have a series of Peaceful Parenting Posts. You can check out the other post in this series below: