Friday, October 30, 2015

Kids and Slow

Almost two months ago now, I wrote a post on slowing with littles but it never really felt finished. I think there is more we can process about slowing with kids.

Maybe my kids are just well practiced at slowing? Maybe some of it is personality both of the individuals and our family as a whole? I don't know - but here are a few additional thoughts about slowing down with kids in your home.

I think this slowing and creating slow beauty for my family comes easily to me. In fact, I crave it. So in many ways, I think my kids have grown up in this slow mentality and lifestyle. But what if I’d just joined the slow team? How would I model it? And, what if I am not good at slow?

Start Small
Start somewhere and start small. Invite your children to sit on the porch with you for five minutes. Read a story aloud, look at what is going on in nature, pray together, have a mini tea party with water even in fancy cups. Anything just to slow together. Next time, try 10 minutes or even 15. Consider what is realistic for your family personality.

Quiet Time
I’m an introvert, so quiet is not only something nice to have, it is literally essential to my ability to think and get through the long haul of homeschooling and mothering. But, let’s face it – I have three children and my life is pretty noisy! With that in mind, I’ve tried to build some quiet into our routines at home. 

I do get up and have my Bible Quiet Time before anyone else is up, usually. So this reference to quiet time is different than that. Once my children outgrew the idea of naps, we began quiet time. It is a set aside time after lunch and playing outside where my main rule is that it is quiet. I set a timer so everyone knows how much time is left and won’t feel the need to interrupt the quiet to ask! The amount of time varies by what else we have going on, but I strive for no less than 30 minutes and no more than 60 minutes. I’ve found 45 minutes is our most successful time. 

When little hands and bodies got restless during quiet time, I came up with a quiet time schedule even. It includes activities for each child that change every day so they always have something new or fun to do that day that is different from the next day and the day before. I keep a few items on a shelf in the closet that are typically only pulled out during quiet time. Activities we have enjoyed are: drawing, reading, having a turn on the iPad, Lite Brite, magnetic dolls, puzzles, playing blocks or Legos, and Play-Doh.

My children are not allowed to play together during Quiet Time. They all have to be in separate places and must occupy themselves quietly. I sit in the Living Room on my favorite small couch and usually read and sometimes even fall asleep. Because the timer is set, it is a natural alarm clock for me when that time is over and we’ve all had some refreshing down time that is quiet. 

There is great value in learning the beauty of quiet and spending time alone. It can be uncomfortable to be quiet around each other and we can want to fill that silence sometimes, so there can be great wisdom in finding comfort in quiet.

When bed time is getting stressful and clean up is a repeated problem in the evening, I’ve also been known to implement a second quiet time in the evening. This is for after everyone is ready for bed and we all bring something quiet to the Living Room where we spend 15-30 minutes together quietly. Reading and drawing are the two most popular activities in the evening. It really brings the energy of the day down to a get-ready-for-bed level that is peaceful and calming.

Family Fun Hour
I've mentioned before I like Fly Lady and have found her cleaning ideas and routines helpful in managing our home. One of my favorite things is the Home Blessing Hour. It is a weekly hour where you bless your home by taking care of six 10-minute chores that need to be done. My children and I do this Home Blessing Hour together every Wednesday which also happens to be our Slow Day. 

Something I came up with as a reward of sorts for this Home Blessing Hour teamwork is Family Fun Hour. When we have finished our chores, I will let each of my children choose one thing they want us to do together that afternoon: play a game, bake something, do an art project, etc… We will usually spend about 20 minutes on each of the three activities chosen allowing us to spend that Family Fun Hour together doing things they want to do.

Sometimes I will have something I’d like to do with them as well like go for a walk or paint. When we have four things, we just spend around 15 minutes on each activity and it still works out to be about an hour. 

This has been a fun way to get us to think about things we’d like to do together and to practice playing together. It’s also a great way for us as a family to support and enjoy the choices of others in our family. 

Brainstorm Slow
Consider opening the conversation at the dinner table about what slow means to each family member. You could go on to share what you are learning and maybe even some of your vision for slow in your home and family. 

Get ideas from your family on what slowing down as a family would look like to you keeping in mind your schedule and unique family preferences. 

If your children are very tiny, they will grow up in what you model and say about slow. If they are older, you can get their input on what this could look like for your family.

My Kids are in School
Some of you are probably thinking, but I don’t homeschool! My kids are in school and then we have homework and dinner and bedtime routines and there is no time to slow!

You are right that slow will look different for you than it does for me. But that can be true of hundreds of situations and scenarios aside from schooling choices.

As I’ve said earlier, I will say again, slow will look different for many different kinds of families. Could you pick one evening a week that you have Slow Evening rather than Slow Day? Stay home. Make something special for dinner, play a game together or listen to beautiful music and be together.
Please hear me say that slow should not complicate your life but be a blessing to it. 

Maybe you could pick one weekend a month where you don’t have a lot of extra commitments and call that your Slow Weekend. Or even just a Slow Morning on Saturdays with a little extra beauty and care tucked into the start of your day. 

Serve breakfast in bed with a little jar of flowers or berries gently placed on one side. Fix your kids lunches so they don’t have to in the mornings and use that time to serve them instead. 

Do you have an extra thirty minutes to spend on your drive or walk home from school? Pack a little after school snack and stop at a park to enjoy slowing together, talking about your day and soaking in a little of God’s beauty that surrounds you.

On your way to the library to gather research for a paper or project, could you spare a few minutes to stop for a treat? These little moments add up and create a life of slow even if you only have a few moments to work with – you can still choose and cultivate slow.

How about a bedtime candlelight cookie picnic or a candlelit bath? I’ve done this before when my kids come home from choir on Wednesday evenings. I will set the coffee table with some treat and little cups of milk, light a few candles and have something to read them set out and ready. Bath time is something we have to make time for, how can you make it a little more special and model slow by showing how you are caring for and serving your family.

We are in a Busy Season of Life
Yes, I think that applies to nearly everyone who is breathing right now. Some of us are busier than others, sometimes by choice and sometimes by the path God has us on right now. 

In writing all of the above ideas and thoughts, I know that you are very busy. You may feel too busy to slow down, or you may feel like if you slow down – you will somehow lose your momentum and never be able to get it back again. 

I get it, I’ve had some of these thoughts myself. But I can honestly say that I have never once regretted my choices of slowing. And, I most certainly have regretted moments of rush and hurry where my voice gets harsher and less gracious. 

Slow doesn’t have to happen every day or even every week. I will say it again, slow will be a blessing when it is a good fit for you and your family. Think small, but just choose some way to slow together and take that deep breath and remember why you are so blessed to have the life that you do.


What works for you and/or doesn't work for you when it comes to slowing down with children in your home? Hope these thoughts are a blessing to you!


Christy Stanton said...

I love this! Thank you for posting…I'm sure I will refer back to it when things aren't so busy!; )

Lauren said...

Monica I first have to say I LOVE how intentional you are. Second of all you REALLY NEED to write a book on SLOW with your beautiful photos. I am sure we would all benefit from reading and reminding ourselves to SLOW