Life Lessons Mental Health Parenting

Simple Slower Living

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It’s not easy. Embracing slower living goes against the fast moving tide of our modern world. My workplace in particular is as far from the slow living movement as you can imagine. Thankfully I adore my work in the charity sector and it only takes a few moments of mindfulness to focus on the impact it is having on the lives of others to centre myself. Some days it is harder than others though. It can creep up on you, the fast moving tide and the glorification of ‘busy’. Before you know it everything is vibrating with an unhealthy pace and you find yourself far from centre with that toxic energy you promised yourself you would avoid at all costs!

Slower living is a popular topic at this time of  collective chaos in the world. It has been calling me for quite some time, a seductive antidote to my busy brain. How did we become so focused on outcomes? How did we lose our connection to self, nature and gentle restoring rest?

It doesn’t really matter how we got here, it matters how we become more mindful and purposeful in the right ways. I am reading SLOW by Brooke McAlary and it is a great place to start if you also feel the call to slower living. If you have hopes to slow things down in 2018 I highly recommend this book and Brooke’s podcast.

“Part memoir, part practical companion, SLOW provides a fascinating insight into the benefits of slowing down. It will inspire you to forget about the Joneses and create a life filled with the things that really matter to you . . . slowly, of course.”

I have found a lot of the well meaning advice on slower living a little overwhelming to be honest. It is a strange paradox to seek out tips for slower living and find yourself feeling even more dizzy and confused about it all! If you find yourself here too, I recommend taking a few deep breaths and stepping away from the abundance of advice. Tune into what the concept of slower living means to you. Is it about having less commitments, a clear calendar and free time on weekends? Is it about spending more time in nature? Is it about learning how to say no more often without a sense of dread and guilt?

Slower living is deeply personal, there is no wrong or right. I am a beginner, with a beginners mind. Since our sea change a year ago I have found myself craving slower days. Settling into a new routine has taken time and the start of a new year feels like the perfect time to work on embedding that new routine.

Here are some of the ways I have started to embrace slower living:

♡ Sea change

Packing up and leaving Sydney was the first big step and it has now been one year since our sea change. Not everyone will be in a position to make this type of major change, and slower living is not all about major changes. For us it was, and it has been a big part of our journey to slower living.

♡ No or fewer extra curricular activities

My 8 year old is yet to take part in any scheduled sports, classes, lessons, out of school activity and this is something that is not considered ‘the norm’. It is perfectly OK for you and your family to make this call, based on what you believe is best for you. In kindergarten our precious little 5 year olds are pushed to the point of exhaustion 5 long days a week, it just didn’t make sense to push him further outside of those long hours. In Year 1 it was very similar, still only a precious little 6 year old who needed play more than anything else. Year 2 we spent gently transitioning to a new school. As we head into Year 3 we will explore the things that are of interest to him, he will lead the way.

♡ Reading lots of books

Books have always been a form of mediation for me, before I even knew what meditation or mindfulness was. Finding the time to read daily is a non negotiable and it is a big part of slowing things down. If you are not a book worm that is OK too, just start by finding a topic that you feel drawn to or indulge in a really juicy piece of fiction.

♡ Gardening

I find that spending any time in the garden is meditative. It is only very simple gardening such as weeding, hosing, pottering around with pot plants and our small vegetable | herb patch. Keeping our little garden well nourished is a gentle process, it is not about perfection or keeping up with the other gardens in our street. It is about ownership, simple beauty and spending time with my feet in the grass getting my hands dirty.

♡ Less Stuff

We gave away a third of our stuff before the sea change, and it speaks for itself. Less clutter, minimal storage and less consumption equals more space to enjoy.

♡ Avoiding noisy busy places

My brain is super busy most of the time, so many ideas and lots of chatter. Being more mindful has helped a lot however it is an ongoing challenge to slow it all down. Being in busy noisy places such as big shopping centres, crowded gatherings and popular attractions only adds to the internal chaos, which I have found manifests as irritability, aggression and lack of control. I have made a conscious decision to seek out more quiet.

♡ Backyard picnics

A simple one, use your outdoor spaces more and you will connect with nature and each other in a more meaningful way. Our backyard is only small, yet it is filled with the smells and sounds of nature. Even the smallest spaces can become a sanctuary for you and your family to escape and slow down. Eat some of your meals outside, take your reading or your work into nature when you can.

♡ The beach

Our sea change allowed us to move closer to the beach. I grew up by the beach and then spent the majority of my 20s and 30s living in the beautiful Bondi community. I didn’t realise how much I missed the ocean until returning to the Central Coast after a few years away from Bondi. Having your toes in the sand, enjoying the cleansing ocean air and spending time in the sea forces you to slow down in the most beautiful way.

♡ A smaller home

It bewilders and saddens me that so many people seem to be focused on having more space. Why does a small family need to separate themselves from each other by more space? Is it really necessary for young kids to have their own bathrooms, why are we so afraid of intimacy and small spaces? Our little home takes up less space on our precious earth, it uses less power and it allows us to spend time together. A bedroom or the yard provides enough retreat when privacy is craved. I worry about the expansion of homes and the reasons behind why so many families feel the need to be as far from each other under the same roof as possible 🙁

♡ Being organised

It may seem somewhat contradictory to slower more free range living, being organised can actually be done gently and without too much pressure. In this sense it can free up time and space. A little meal planning, keeping your calendar free on purpose and being organised at work can all contribute to slower living.

♡ Quiet conversations

In the first few years of Motherhood I craved a nice neat bedtime routine. It never happened and I allowed the angst to eat away at me, many tears of frustration, guilt and failure were shed. It has only been since realising that I was fighting the natural order of things that I have started to embrace the quiet moments within this period of time. Having an 8 year old who still wants to be in my physical space, who craves the intimacy of Mummy time and who confides in me naturally is a joy. The quiet conversations that can naturally flow at bedtime are precious and they can become a really beautiful slow time of winding down together at the end of the day.

May we all embrace some quieter moments and slower days.

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