The clock is now running at high speed, hands spinning faster and faster as we hurtle towards the start of school, trying to absorb the ending summer days while working and shopping for school supplies and marking schedules on the calendar and starting practices and buying clothes and STOP!
Lean back slowly, close your eyes, take a deep breath through your nose while counting one-two-three, exhale through your mouth, and suddenly the clock decelerates to normal speed, frantic thoughts flow in a straight line and some of the extra mental weight simply vanishes. As we parents consciously strive to Slow the pace down, our children can hopefully follow our paths, frenetic movements disappearing into the haze.
It is not easy in today’s environment to Slow down, take a breath, when everywhere we see HURRY! NOW! GO! The thought of falling behind the group is terrifying at first, then acceptable, as we realize that we don’t need to fall out with our friends simply because we say NO sometimes to one more outing or one more label or one more activity.
I have spent this summer physically and mentally trying to Slow down our family, and it is not easy. But it’s working, and we all seem happier, more relaxed. (see 23 June post for more information on Slowing down) Two weekends ago, with my daughters just back from camp, we were swimming in our nearby lake, lounging on our huge blow-up raft nicknamed The Island of Doom- the best $60 investment I made last summer–when my older daughter asked me “What else are we doing today?”
“This is it. This is all I have planned, ” I replied as I watched the clouds dancing across the sky, a cool breeze shimmering over the water.
“OK,” she smiled, diving into the water. And we hung out on the water and the beach, until the kids were ready to head home to start dinner.
This past weekend we amazingly had our second free consecutive Sunday. After an early morning grocery run, we spent the day not filing or shopping or cleaning but going on a long bike ride with a picnic, as I wrote about yesterday.
When given the freedom of an empty calendar, don’t always feel the need to fill it in. Explore your local area, have a picnic with friends, take your kids shopping, lay in the hammock, work in your gardern, go to the movies, play a game, visit somewhere you have never been or somewhere familiar that you have not seen in awhile. Do not let the lack of ink on that day scare you-as I think it does some-but embrace your free time.
I find that the more days we have carved a singular activity out of an ink-free day, the more we crave it. As our family has become closer and more content this summer, I hope can extend this Slowness into the school year. C