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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

Slow Living with Children - Family life doesn’t have to be so busy

Do you feel like the days are slipping away, leaving you with a sense of being constantly rushed? As a mother, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of daily tasks and responsibilities, but it's important to take a step back and reclaim the joy of motherhood. By slowing down and embracing the present moment, you can create a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience for both you and your family.

Family life doesn’t have to be so busy - Slow Living as a Family
Slow Living with Children

What is Slow Living?

In today's fast-paced and hectic world, the concept of slow living has gained significant attention. Slow living encourages individuals to savour the present moment, prioritise meaningful connections, and cultivate a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. While the idea of slow living may seem challenging with the demands of raising children, it is possible to embrace this philosophy and create a harmonious environment for both parents and kids. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of slow living with children and provide practical tips to incorporate this mindful approach into your family's daily routine.

The Importance of Slowing Down:

In a world where constant busyness is glorified, slowing down holds tremendous value. By adopting a slow living mindset, parents can help their children develop resilience, emotional intelligence, and a deep appreciation for life's simple pleasures. Slowing down allows us to truly connect with our children, nurture their creativity, and create a sense of stability amidst the chaos.

Prioritising Quality Time:

In our fast-paced lives, it's easy for quality time with our children to take a backseat. Slow living emphasises the significance of carving out uninterrupted, technology-free moments to engage with our little ones. Whether it's reading together, going for nature walks, or having meaningful conversations around the dinner table, these intentional interactions foster stronger bonds and create lasting memories.

By giving your child just 10 minutes a day of your full attention - that means without any types of distractions - can make your child feel more connected to you, which can make them be more cooperative & feel more secure about your love for them. What is important is not the amount of time you spend with your child, it is important to create memories.

Cultivating Mindful Habits:

Mindfulness is a cornerstone of slow living. By practicing mindfulness as a family, parents can teach children to be fully present in the moment, fostering a sense of calm and gratitude. Teaching children meditation and mindfulness skills will help them increase their well-being, self-compassion and self-awareness, as well as enhance empathy and openness. They will need these tools to build confidence, cope with stress, and relate to uncomfortable or challenging moments. The earlier we do so in their young lives, the greater the opportunity to help them cultivate resilience and develop and refine their mindfulness practice as they mature.

Encourage mindfulness exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, or even simple yoga poses that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Simplifying Daily Routines:

Modern life often bombards families with excessive commitments and overwhelming schedules. Slow living encourages simplifying daily routines and creating a peaceful atmosphere at home. We, as adults, can feel stressed out, too, when our agenda is full of appointments. The same happens with our children, they need time where they can just do what they want without having the pressure of being on time somewhere. I like to go outside with my daughter and let her decide where she wants to go. That way she gets confident and makes her own decisions, and later when I need her to cooperate with something, she is more willing to cooperate.

Engage your children in the process of decluttering and organising their belongings, teaching them the value of letting go of excess and focusing on what truly matters. Having too many toys to play with, makes the decision hard to choose one. An alternative is to rotate the toys every 1-2 weeks so that they always have something new to play with and that way we limit the amount of toys.

Establishing predictable routines and minimising extraneous activities can reduce stress, increase family cohesion, and create space for relaxation and reflection. Knowing what will happen makes your child feel safe, and with time they will be able to do the steps of your routine by themselves, without you having to tell them what comes next.

Embracing Nature:

Nature offers a serene and grounding environment for families to slow down and reconnect with one another. Spending time outdoors isn’t just enjoyable — it’s also necessary. Many researchers agree that kids who play outside are happier, better at paying attention and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.

Make it a priority to spend time outdoors regularly, whether it's exploring local parks, camping, or simply playing in the backyard. Encourage your children to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity. Nature provides a much-needed respite from the fast-paced urban lifestyle and allows children to explore, learn, and engage their senses.

Balancing Technology Use:

In the digital age, finding a healthy balance between technology and slow living can be challenging. Teach your children the importance of limiting screen time and encourage activities that stimulate their imagination and creativity. Engage in screen-free activities such as arts and crafts, board games, or outdoor play. By setting clear boundaries around technology use, parents can create an environment that promotes face-to-face interaction, communication, and genuine connection.

Moreover, excessive screen time and regular exposure to low-quality programming have been associated with several negative outcomes, including:

  • Obesity

  • Disrupted sleep schedules and insufficient sleep

  • Behavioural issues

  • Delays in language and social skills development

  • Increased aggression and violence

  • Attention problems

  • Reduced time for active learning

Children below the age of 2 are more likely to learn and develop when they engage in interactive play with parents, siblings, other children, and adults. However, starting at the age of 2, certain types of screen time, such as programs involving music, movement, and storytelling, can be beneficial. It is important to watch these programs together with your child, as it enables you to help them understand the content and apply it in real-life situations. Nevertheless, passive screen time should never replace activities like reading, playing, or problem-solving.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against media use, except for video chatting, for children under 18 months of age. If you decide to introduce digital media to children between 18 to 24 months, ensure that the content is of high quality and avoid allowing them to use media alone. For children aged 2 to 5, it is recommended to limit screen time to one hour per day, focusing on high-quality programming.

Embrace Mindful Multitasking:

While the goal of slow living is to be fully present in the moment, there are instances when multitasking can be practiced mindfully. Choose tasks that can be combined with quality time spent with your children. For example, involving your child in meal preparation or folding laundry together can create an opportunity for bonding while accomplishing necessary tasks. By integrating your children into these activities, you foster a sense of collaboration, teach life skills, and create meaningful memories.

Children demonstrate better decision-making and task prioritisation skills when they approach tasks one at a time. However, multitasking not only affects their productivity but also has an impact on their developing brains.

Multitasking poses challenges for the still-developing brain as it hinders the absorption of information and the formation of connections between thoughts and ideas. Besides its negative effects on cognitive development, multitasking also has repercussions on family dynamics as it limits meaningful interaction within the family.

Set Boundaries with Technology:

In a world filled with digital distractions, it's crucial to establish boundaries around technology use when multitasking. Minimise the temptation to multitask with devices by designating specific times for checking emails, social media, or work-related tasks. Create tech-free zones or periods during the day to ensure that your attention is undivided when interacting with your children.

Moreover, engaging in technological multitasking also exacerbates generational divides. It becomes challenging for parents and children to foster a sense of belonging within the family unit, which is crucial for a child's development.

A study conducted on smartphones revealed that they can diminish cognitive capacity. In this study, students who placed their phones in a different room performed better on cognitive tests compared to those who simply placed their phones face down on their desks and silenced them. This suggests that even at an unconscious level, phones act as distractions, impacting cognitive performance.

According to the expert, "Before children embark on discovering their place in the wider world, they need to feel a strong sense of unity within their immediate family."

In conclusion, slow living with children goes beyond merely rejecting productivity or isolating oneself from the world. It involves making a conscious decision to place importance on what truly holds value: forging meaningful connections, prioritising personal well-being, and embracing the beauty of the present moment. When parents embrace the concept of slow living, they can cultivate an environment that fosters the growth and flourishing of their children.

It is crucial to recognise that slow living doesn't mean eliminating all responsibilities or slowing down to a standstill. Rather, it is about finding a harmonious balance that allows space for both productivity and the cultivation of meaningful experiences. By intentionally slowing down the pace of life, parents can create a nurturing atmosphere where their children can thrive emotionally, mentally, and physically.

In the pursuit of slow living, it's essential to cherish the little moments—the shared laughter, heartfelt conversations, and genuine connections. Quality time spent together as a family holds immeasurable significance in shaping the lives of our children. It is through these moments that bonds are strengthened, love is nurtured, and lasting memories are created.

So, let us take a step back from the frenetic pace of life, consciously slow down, and savour the magnificent journey of parenthood. By embracing slow living, we gift ourselves and our children the precious opportunity to appreciate the wonders of life, to nurture relationships, and to find joy in the simple pleasures. May we find fulfilment in the meaningful connections we cultivate and the richness of the present moment ❤️

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