The alarm goes off, signaling the start of the day. We immediately open our phones and take our first hit of information. We check emails, the news, and our friends’ social statuses before we even grab our first cup of coffee. I’m guilty of opening my phone on autopilot and checking my top five apps without even realizing it. While I do appreciate the availability of information, some days this data is all I feed myself. Instead of soaking up creative inspiration, meditating with Jesus, or spending time doing the simple things I always talk about doing, I open Facebook, scroll through Google News, or check my really-important-stay-at-home-mom inbox. A day full of this is sure to wear out my spirit and drain my energy. Enter the slow living movement. Like a breath of fresh air, it ushers in a wave of inspiration into my jaded routines and challenges me to rethink even my smallest of choices.
Slow Living | what is it?
As someone with an academic background, I can only smile when referencing Wikipedia, which says slow living is “a lifestyle emphasizing slower approaches to aspects of everyday life.” Simple, right?
But, if I’m being honest, sometimes the idea of slow living overwhelms me. I view it in the same way as just about everything else: A never-ending task list, almost as if I need to be the mom who successfully and joyfully runs a homestead, yet still has time to sit and drink her coffee before it gets cold. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. After practicing the slow living movement for over a year, I’ve come away with these realistic tips for slowing down and savoring your life moment-by-moment.
Slow Living | the role of setting priorities
If you’re looking to incorporate some more slow living practices into your life, start with baby steps. Do what you can with what you have. No need to learn how to sew just because that’s the image you have of slow living. Just make it work for you.
Now comes the hard truth. In order to slow down your life, you might need to do some decluttering in your agenda. In other words, prioritizing.
Think about the way you’d like your life to look. Do the tasks on your agenda support that vision? Are they priorities for you and your family?
Likewise, think about the people you spend your time with, and consider that time is the most precious gift you can offer. Do these people deserve your precious time? Maybe you need to pare down your social schedule to prioritize the ones who matter most to you.
Once you have an overarching vision for your slower-paced life, it’s time to start taking baby steps toward it. And let me tell you, these baby steps can be exciting because they’re actually quite simple and practical. In fact, you may have overlooked them in the past. But when you slow your heart down enough to appreciate them, that’s where the real slow living magic happens.
I will say this: I make these slower choices often, but certainly not always. I’m all about baby steps and doing what I can at any given moment. Sometimes I make that dinner from scratch. Other times, all I can afford is a nice deep breath.
Slow Living | simple ideas you can implement this month
1. Choose pour-over instead of Keurig. And as that hot water filters through your coffee, take a deep breath. Use the moment to enjoy one of the best scents on earth while listening to the sound of that hot water dripping into your mug. Be present and in the moment. Resist the urge to open your phone or multitask, and just enjoy the process… and the delicious coffee afterward!
2. Sit down at a table to eat. And don’t you dare open that phone. Even if your meal is a drive-thru burger, you’ll do your body and mind a good deed if you just sit while eating. In fact, there’s a whole eating plan devoted to the idea of slowing down at the table.
3. Open your phone with intention. Don’t let it rule you and your habits. Before you open your phone, tell yourself why you’re doing it. Are you going to check your email? Did you have a question for Google? Make a note of your purpose and close the phone once you’ve accomplished it.
4. Make your own meal. My habits in cooking have only really developed over the past year. Before that, it was always a kind of an afterthought (which meant, we often ate pre- or semi-prepared meals, or ordered takeout). One of my favorite, most therapeutic meals to make from scratch is pizza (or any kind of dough). I love working with the dough and seeing how it changes over the course of a few hours. Of course, there are many days I don’t plan ahead and need to dump a few ingredients together. I love the Instant Pot for these last-minute meals!
Consider where you are in your food-making abilities and habits, and take the next baby step. Maybe it means buying something that’s only semi-prepared instead of fully prepared. Or maybe you’re already fancy and want to try your hand at homemade bone broth. Either way, by being involved in our meals from beginning to end, we appreciate them more. Bonus points if you can get the kids or hubby involved in meal prep. (Doesn’t usually happen for me, but maybe someday.)
5. Take a bath. This has to be one of the most indulgent activities for a mom. My tendency is to see it as a complete waste of time actually. But it’s in these quiet moments that our minds can relax. It’s during this downtime that our thoughts can freely wander, finding solutions to impossible problems or incredible sparks of inspiration and creativity. Take the bath.
6. Give your screens a rest. Even if it’s for 30 minutes, make it a point to put the screens away. Spend the time with your loved ones, sit back and enjoy the moment, read a book, stretch, or practice deep breathing.
7. Light a candle at the dinner table. After a busy day, it can be so comforting to sit down to a meal with your family to reconnect, refresh, and unwind. I love setting the tone for a slow dinner by lighting a candle. It hasn’t happened lately #becausekids… but it really isn’t that hard to do. My favorite ones are these 100% pure beeswax candles.
8. Explore new music. Or reacquaint yourself with old favorites. Any artist or playlist that you actually notice. So often, we use music in the background (which I love), but forget to really listen to it. I love putting my headphones in for this, usually in the early morning hours before the kids are up, or while I’m making dinner (if the kids aren’t crawling up my legs).
9. Go for a walk, destination optional. There’s something so healing about being outdoors. Every time I go for walks, I think “why don’t I do this more often?” I come back completely reenergized.
10. Literally slow down your pace. If you’re like me, you get into productivebeastmom mode. While I do love these moments sometimes, I realize I often forget to slow down once my cleaning/cooking/laundry spree is done. This rushed mentality might carry over into my parenting, the way I feed myself, or the way I interact with my husband. During these times, I often stop to take a deep breath and simply slow down my movements. I might try to speak more slowly, walk more slowly, eat more slowly, and breathe more slowly.
If you’re stuck on this, just look at your toddler for inspiration. Hey, maybe you won’t get as frustrated that they are still. putting. on. their. shoes.
11. Read a book. Even if it’s only for ten minutes. If you can add a cup of coffee or tea (or wine), even better!
12. Start a bullet journal. This is another thing that sounds more daunting than it is. Blogger Nic Renzetti has some simple and practical tips for you to get started.
13. Color. Invest in an adult coloring book. I love opening mine up and coloring for five minutes. I do think you should invest in some decent colored pencils (the pigment!), but I suppose Crayola is fine too. 😉
14. Play with your kids. Let me be honest again. Some days, this is the last thing I can handle. But there are plenty of other days when, with just a little intention, it blesses my heart to just sit with them and play. Sure, the housework needs to be done. But if I’m not going crazy, then what’s the harm in waiting a few minutes while we roll some trucks around or play restaurant? This helps me to break away from the constant pressure of “what do I have to do next?” to just be in their world for a few minutes.
15. Monotask. This one kinda goes hand-in-hand with #10 above, but it’s a good one. We often tend to think that doing more at once is more productive, but time and time again, studies show this to be a myth. Accept that you are more efficient if you stick to one task at a time, and be fully present in that task while doing it. (I might be laughing slightly at this, while I imagine myself making dinner while also trying to get the preschooler some markers and the toddler some milk… but, you get the idea.)
16. Plant something. Whether it’s an herb garden, some flowers, or a tree… get outside and plant something! The simple act of digging in the dirt can be so therapeutic, and really cause us to remember the whole lifecycle of the produce we eat. While we might buy all our produce from the grocery store, even planting something can remind us that it all comes from the ground, help us appreciate the food more, and encourage us in slower eating habits.
If you’re interested in exploring this topic a little more, I’ve written another post on three deeper and broader habits you can practice to embrace a slower pace.