These days we are bombarded with parenting styles we should adopt, or not. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other parents and feel guilty we are not doing enough. It can be hard to feel grounded in a fast paced, high pressured, information overloaded society. We live in a culture where attainment, achievement and high grades equals success. It’s an insidious problem, misguided by the drive to desire the best for our children.
Slow Parenting can be described as “bare foot” parenting, or “free range” parenting. My initial perception of slow parenting was that it was only possible if you’re home-schooling or Steiner schooling and to families that have the freedom and finances to do all those wonderful idealistic things like play, create and learn wherever and whenever they like. I have friends who live like this, and I am envious! After our stint of home schooling and subsequently stopping, I needed to re-assess how to slow parent, while working 5-6 days a week with kids in mainstream school.
Here are some things we have done and still learning to do.
Each child has ‘one on one’ time with each parent. It can be as simple as walking to school and stopping off at the café, or going swimming, cooking together or playing a board game (not on the iPad!). Camping, bush walks, visiting a park and all those activities that get you out in nature is also wonderful special time.
Teaching kids to be responsible with technology is our biggest battle. We monitor what they can play, for how long and when. However, we hope to instil in them self-control around tech time, so it is their responsibility to watch the clock and get off by themselves. If not, that means less game time next time.
It is a practice as parents we value, so we teach this to our kids. Most nights before bed we do a small 5 minute meditation with our kids.
Less is Best
Extracurricular activities can be great for kids but too much can be exhausting for kids (and parents). We have reduced the amount of extracurricular activities the kids do and we give them the freedom to decide.
Day of Rest
This is when we take a weekend, usually a Saturday and we have zero phone, tech, TV time (parents included). We start with a big cooked breakfast, and plan the day ahead. Either we go out into nature, or play games and read books at home. We avoid buying stuff and shopping centres. At dinner, we light the candles and have a special meal, beginning with going around the table sharing a prayer for each other. It is not every weekend, as some weeks are busier than others. However, we will intentionally book it in the diary.
Like all the slow series philosophy, slow parenting is about conscious, mindful living with longevity and legacy in mind. It is about finding time to nurture, spend time in nature, tune out, unplug and savour moments. It is letting go of the parental worry and not over scheduling and pushing them out of fear and expectations. It is allowing the child to walk their own personal journey, giving them the power to make their own choices and trusting wholeheartedly that they will be ok.
Slow parenting is not an overnight change, but a journey of giving yourself permission to explore what it would look like in your home.