People tell me all the time they love the idea of slowing down, but they don’t have time. “We’re overwhelmed, we have a lot on our plate.” They say it sort of sheepishly, as if their schedule is something they need to apologize for. As if I am the model of leisure, spending all my time just lazing about with my family. I definitely try to schedule lazing time with the family on a random basis, but with four kids, it isn’t always possible.
Families are busy. AND families need to find ways to connect – not just when they’re on vacation, or lazing about, but in the day to day. So we as parents don’t look around one day when our kids are grown and say, “Hey, where did everybody go??”
So how do you create that connection now that is so crucial to the lifelong family connection we all want? First, pause, for just a few seconds. Ask yourself this simple question: is what we’re doing right now as a family giving us the connection we need and want? If the answer is yes, keep going. If it’s not, pause again and figure out what needs to shift in the big picture. And then, try something as simple as looking your kids in the eye when you speak to them. Next time you’re picking them up at school or asking them to pick up their backpack or put away their laundry or make their bed or set the table or pick up their backpack, pause your body and your words for just a few SECONDS, take hold of their shoulder, look them in the eye, exhale, smiling as you do, AND THEN speak, holding their gaze all the while.
As you’re doing it, you’ll realize that this simple act, which actually adds no time at all to the task at hand, is monumental. As you do it you’ll probably realize too that in all your days and nights spent together, this simple act is something that isn’t necessarily a part of the regular equation. And you will feel completely connected to not only the task at hand, but also to the person to whom you are speaking.
Simple as that.
The more you do it, the more natural it will become, and the more natural it becomes, the more you will do it, and the more you do it, the more you will feel your connection grow to all those little people in your house. The people who will only be children for a very short period of time and with whom you will have adult relationships for WAY, WAY longer.
Slow isn’t about doing nothing. It’s about finding connection in all you do. It’s about creating connection in the little moments in life. Now. While your children are home. So that down the road, when your children are grown, that connection will just be a part of whom you all are.
Oh, and every now and again? I do advise scheduling a day of lazing about with your family with absolutely nothing on the agenda. And when you can’t, try simply looking each other in the eye.
Bernadette Noll is a writer, mother of four, co-founder (with Carrie Contey) of Slow Family Living and author of the books Make Stuff Together and Slow Family Living; 75 Ways to Slow Down, Connect and Create More Joy, due out from Perigee Publishing in March, 2013. If you’re in Austin on March 7th join her at BookPeople at 7pm for her book release. And read more at Slowfamilyliving.com