Living in modern culture often makes it difficult to appreciate slowness. Being a mother sometimes makes slowing down feel impossible. Like so many other parents, I’m a list-maker and planner, meaning at any given point I have the day’s needs either handwritten on paper or floating through my head–a list that is never finished, I should add. As a mother, a role with broad parameters and responsibilities, these lists show me progression, the small deeds that accumulate to what is my day and life’s work. Ideally, they would comprise a balanced mixture of work and rest, but choosing the latter always requires intention, something easily usurped by activity and tasks.
Slowness and rest are an intrinsic balance to our busyness as parents. In periods when I’m not careful to protect this need, busyness/hurried-ness can easily become the culture of our home, an environment driven by tasks in lieu of peaceful nurturing. I found myself in this place earlier this month, willing myself against natural limitations and needs to try to do everything. When I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago, I was forced to slow down, to accomplish less tasks but each with more quality and intention. How easily I mistake activity and achievement, quantity for quality.
While our children are at home, I realize life will be busy. My ankle is healing well and I’m gratefully able to move around fine again. Since then, I’ve been revisiting our pace of life and evaluating little ways to value slowness here again. I’m sharing a list because, you know, I’m a list-maker, and in hopes, it will help you all take better care of yourself, too.
unplug // Perhaps unplugging from technology is the most obvious step, but it is also the most difficult for me to do. When I put aside my phone, it helps me stay focused on what I have to do, rather than focusing on or comparing myself by what others. It also curbs distractions.
take a bath // My somewhat ugly pink bathroom currently has a tub without a shower–we plan to remodel it at some point. When we first bought the house, I saw this as an inconvenience, something we needed to remedy as soon as possible. Yet as I soak quietly beneath warm water each evening, I think maybe this is something I needed all along. Bathing is naturally a slower and more restful process, perfect for the end of busy days. Each night, I throw in a handful of eucalyptus + peppermint infused epsom salts and feel restored from the physical day.
go for a walk // This can happen alone or with the children, but either way, being outdoors in a slow way (opposed to running, which is a different experience) helps restore balance to hurriedness.
eat well // When life becomes busier, I always find I gravitate more toward foods that aren’t beneficial for me. I drink more coffee and eat more sugar and simple carbs for quick energy which in the long-run hurts me (and my kids). Plus, it ignores what my body and mind are really trying to tell me, “I’m tired. Slow down.”
take a restful break// Most afternoons I enforce quiet rest time in our home. During this time the kids cannot talk with one another or me and must read or do a quiet activity on their own. More often, I am in the habit of using that time to catch up on social medias, email, or writing. I am best when I take that same time myself for a brief nap or quiet reading time, two activities that restore me enough to finish the day.
write down inspiring words // I love words and am encouraged when I read or remember them. Over the years of busyness, I have returned to Jesus’s words in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” This has reminded me each time, spiritual rest can occur even in the midst of the busiest of activities.
How do you all build slowness into your days? Do you have certain rituals or words that help you remember to slow down?
Tomorrow, I leave alone for Virginia, which admittedly feels quite strange and wonderful at the same time. I imagine I’ll post a few things from the conference via Instagram, but for the most part, I plan to use this retreat away from my family, the computer, and work to restore my soul.