by Robin Goldstein-Lincoln
Lately there has been a push for slower food. Broadcast media expose the health risks of fast food, articles highlight mindful eating and family meals, and restaurants feature farm to table ingredients. I am profoundly affected by what I eat, but even more, how I eat it. Eating on the go, eating while I stand up or move about the house, and eating while I am working all give me indigestion. And, I am left with this funny feeling I didn’t really eat at all.
So, lately I have been trying to slow down while preparing food and also taking the time to enjoy eating it. And, I am better for it.
Slowing down my eating habits has also helped me see how often my fast, multi-task approach leads to error, inefficiency and stress. Slowing down helps me better decipher what is most important and which tasks truly need my attention. And, I actually find whatever I am doing much more satisfying when I am focused on just one task.
As I consider slowing down in my role as a parent I am reminded of the pressure many of us feel these days - so much to do, so little time. But what if slowing down actually saves time?
When I slow down my internal stress quiets down. My sense of urgency subsides. I can reconnect with my humor and my playfulness. I have a broader perspective. I can laugh at myself. I am aware of my over reactions and self-induced drama. I can see myself more clearly. I am a better listener. I can better understand what my child truly needs.
The slower speed and increased quiet help me notice my temptations to minimize or advise. I can notice an impulse without immediately acting on it. I am better able to discern more deliberate and thoughtful speech or action. Sometimes what seemed like a “problem” no longer exists.
With what I now refer to as “slower parenting,” I can better savor the pleasant moments - the sweetness of my child’s smile or giggle, the joy of being together, the appreciation for our connection, the pride in my child’s growth or maturity, innocence or wisdom.
And, for those of us who feel so perpetually short on time - slower parenting can happen in just 2-3 minutes! I continue to be amazed at how inexpensive the cost of going more slowly is on my "time bank," and how valuable the return.
Here are some slower parenting action steps that I have found particularly helpful:
When driving, just drive.
When eating, just eat.
When reading, just read.
Accentuate exhales, maybe even with a soft humming on the out breathe.
Notice the special features, strengths and wisdom of your child.
Notice the simple blessings of being alive.
Notice the hidden gifts of the difficult moments.
Take short pauses as often as possible.
Multi-task as infrequently as possible.
Listen more and talk less.
Ask more questions.
Get extremely curious.
As I discover how satisfying it can feel to slow down, I can still feel some pressure to speed up. In our fast paced world, slowing down will take a village. So here’s to a communal slowing down for the well being of us all!