Motherhood

Trying Out Slow Parenting

kendra-smoot

Cup of Jo has been running for 13 years (!) so we’ve decided that every week, we’ll be highlighting one of the most popular posts from the past. Here’s one of our favorites, originally published on May 26, 2015. Although we can’t go outside, the idea of sloooooowing way down felt timely…

After work and on the weekends, I often take our boys on neighborhood adventures — to the playground, to the carousel, to the bookstore, to the deli to get popsicles. But even though these outings are fun, I’ve found that…

…en route, I’m constantly calling after them: “Hurry up, sweetie!” “Let’s go!” “Keep walking!” “Come on, honey, follow me!”

One recent evening, I even challenged myself not to tell them any instructions for the next minute. And it made me realize how often I did — 60 seconds was hard to get through! The funny thing is, usually we’re not even in a rush. As an adult, I move at a faster pace than they do, and I’m also not great, generally, at relaxing, even on my own time. So, when Anton stops to examine a bicycle pedal or spots an ant on the ground or Toby walks slowly and dreamily down the block, I instinctively tell them to c’mon and come along.

The other day, I read a Boston Globe article about slow parenting, and it really resonated with me:

“I encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack,” [John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of The Available Parent] says. “Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace”…

“We don’t overschedule ourselves. My husband and I spend lots of time at home. My kids dig in the dirt and ride bikes, we blow bubbles and go to the beach,” says [Lindsay Miller, a mother of three boys, ages 2, 4, and 7]…

“These days when everyone is so busy, we need to be intentional about making space for family time…” Family time, says Contey [cofounder of Slow Family Living] is different for all of us. “You might say, ‘we’re all here on Thursday mornings, so let’s make a leisurely pancake breakfast’; or one night a week take a walk in the dark before bed. Something like that can feel really special and the kids will remember it as they get older”…

I loved that line about simply watching your children. The other day, the boys were taking a bath, and instead of cleaning up the room or scrubbing them down, I decided to look at them. I noticed how Anton’s hair sticks out to each side, like Doc from Back to the Future. And Toby was softly humming a tune, which I didn’t recognize at first, but then realized was “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music. (“And you and you and you!”) And their round bellies and serious focus on bath toys broke my heart from the sweetness. And I could have just as easily missed it!

My approach has typically been to squeeze in fun outings with them, especially if I’ve been at work all day. But maybe it’s nice sometimes to not do anything.

This month, I’m inspired to slow down and let the boys take the lead. Maybe we’ll skip a carousel excursion and instead just walk around the block as slowly as they’d like. Maybe we’ll take an hour! We’ll notice little things (like those fascinating bike pedals) and say hi to neighbors and turn around and sit on a bench and NOT, under any circumstances, hurry up.

What about you? Do you factor in slow-paced time with your little ones? It’s not a groundbreaking realization, but it feels like it in the moment.

stephanie-congdon-barnes-gorge-oregon

P.S. An outdoors challenge, and our vacation on Fire Island last summer that felt like slow parenting, as vacations sometimes do!

(Top photo by Kendra Smoot; bottom photo by Stephanie Congdon Barnes/Little Birds)

  1. Cynthia says...

    Yes, it’s important to slow down. Even though my daughters are adults now, I often found myself saying, “Hurry up!” when they were little. I did a lot of slow parenting. I chose to stay home with my girls when they were little, and we did a lot of playing in the sandbox, on the swings, taking walks, making snowmen, the list goes on. Even when they were older, I did not run from activity to activity after school. Yes, they participated in things, but they had time to relax and be children. It was also less stress on me. I think because of this, they are also very creative and original people.

  2. Oh my. I am SO guilty of doing this. After reading this, I realized I rush my 3 through everything – ugh. – breakfast, hurry up we have to get out of your pajamas, through the grocery store, hurry up and walk faster next to the cart the frozen stuff is gonna melt before we get home, bath time, hurry the water is getting cold you need to get out. Geez. Best post I’ve read all week. Time to put on the brakes and NOT hurry my sweet people every step of the way…

  3. Zeineb says...

    Great post Joanna! I just decided to take a year of to watch my son grow… Going back to work after my maternity leave when he was 5 months was kind of brutal. It didn’t take me long before realizing that I aspired for something better for my family. Hope we Will be able to manage it this way for as long as possible as I want more than one kid!

  4. Thank you for posting this! I have been thinking about this concept a lot lately, but more in the life sense (I don’t have kids).
    I need to remind myself to live life for the experience a lot of the time, and not for something trivial, like a good instagram photo.
    I love instagram, but I think apps like this are ruining our ability to be in the moment.
    I was walking past Milk Bar the other day and watched a girl photograph her cookie, and I may be wrong, but I thought as I passed her “she must be posting it on Instagram”.
    I would love to hear other women’s opinions on this. :)

  5. Jennifer says...

    A friend of mine was recently talking about this and how we try to squeeze in errands and don’t always have the time or desire to stop and let them ride the tractor outside the store or pop over to the playground for 10 minutes. Someone wisely told her, “it’s their day too.” That really struck me and has helped me slow down and let go of my agenda time and time again.

  6. I love this! I’m generally terrible at slowing down, and had planned to do so many things during maternity leave – including daily blog posts. Three months in (we get up to a year in the UK) and the guilt hit an all time high because I didn’t feel I was accomplishing enough. Then I realised that if I was paying someone to watch my daughter, and that person spent their day trying to do a million other things, I would be livid. Since then, I’ve held myself to the same expectations I would have for a nanny or her daycare. It’s not easy! But slowing down and focusing on her and the time we have together means we’re all much happier.

  7. molly says...

    Hi Jo! Thanks for the great reminder! In many ways we live in a very slow manner (my niece calls it our quasi-life!) because my husband works from home, I homeschool our children, and we don’t overschedule ourselves at all. But at the core, I parent in a very fast manner. I’ve always been a go-getter, and as a mother I’m much better at the “doing” side of parenting than the “being” part of it all. I have a hard time turning off my brain and turning away from the tasks that “need” to get done. I have 4 young children and I rush them through the errands and things that we do. And, golly, when I take a moment to slow down, to watch my 2yo son in the hardware store carrying our basket so proudly and savoring the environment, it breaks my heart with the beauty of it all. Thank you for bringing the Slow Parenting movement to light for me and for the reminder to “let them be little.” xoxo

  8. Rebecca S. says...

    This is a beautiful post, something I believe in but always need a reminder for how to practice it in the nitty gritty! Thank you!

  9. Ashley says...

    Dear Joanna,
    I LOVE this and hope it will become a movement- a backlash against the frenzied pace many of us feel forced to adapt to in today’s world.
    My father has often suggested I should just “sit and watch” my girls. He told me I owed it to myself not to miss it. So true.
    I work in the city and commute via train. I am often very keyed up from the day and enter the house with hectic energy. I have been making a new effort on this front: on the train I wear big headphones without music to try to slow down and mentally switch gears to be with my girls in those precious evening hours. I’m also hoping this will help me not feel the need for a glass of wine every night but we’re not there yet…
    Thank you for bringing awareness to this!
    Xx

  10. Monic@ says...

    I do this with my 5 year-old students sometimes….just sit back as they are doing their seat work (or supposed to be doing) and watch how they interact with each other and occasionally glance up at me with a mischevious little look on their face trying to see if i’ve caught them…it’s even funnier and more rewarding because they are speaking in Spanish and under the impression that i don’t understand them (they are in English class). These moments allow me to get to know things about them and their little personalities that they are not yet able to communicate with me, due to their limited vocabulary. Soo rewarding!!!

  11. Meg says...

    We try to incorporate tenants of RIE into our parenting; while we aren’t purists by any means, something that has really resonated is “Do less, enjoy more.” Parenting has slowed our lives down so much; we love it.

  12. ashley says...

    You should read the book In Praise of Slow; it talks about slow philosophy and slow parenting. I tried to translate it into Slow Teaching and what a joy it was!

  13. Cate W says...

    Oh this is close to my heart at the moment; I went to a mindfulness in parenting workshop a few weeks ago led by Jon & Myla Kabat-Zinn who were over from the States. So much of what they said was so simple and so sensible, but it takes some serious intention to keep it in the forefront of your day.
    Someone asked if they felt they had experienced more of their children’s lives and had more time as they had been actively being mindful and aware from the beginning of their parenting journey, and they both wholeheartedly said yes.
    Can you imagine! They have experienced more time with their babies than others simply from being aware.
    I think you’d love their book on this, Everyday Blessings, it’s really approachable.

  14. Cheryl says...

    When our 3 children were growing up in the 90s we had a little place on a small island close to town. No phone. (Cell phones didn’t work there. There was a pay phone and a white board for messages at the general store.) No TV, no video games, no summer camp. Just friends, swimming in the lake, fishing, tennis,learning card games, chess, writing poems, reading, and sleeping in sleeping bags on the deck. My husband took the ferry to work and I had July and August off since I was a teacher. We didn’t have a lot of money, and I didn’t know we were “Slow Parenting”. It just made sense. We wanted our kids to have the same freedom we had had growing up.

    • Meg says...

      This is our dream….we live in Chicago and want to buy a house in WI or MI (anyone want to go in on something?!) for this very reason. I am also a teacher and my husband has a lot of time to work from home. For now, we are content with our “big” (by city standards) backyard with the baby pool and sandbox and water table and adirondack chairs. Someday…

    • Cheryl says...

      Don’t give up on your dream- it will happen, but you might have to compromise a little. Our summer cabin wasn’t glam or elegant but that didn’t matter. We could have waited a few more years
      and bought that
      “perfect” cottage, but the kids grew up so
      quickly, we would have missed all that fun. BTW, I grew up in Wisconsin!

  15. This is so interesting! I don’t have kids yet, but I have observed my sister, friends and strangers in their parenting and definitely noticed the difference in kids when parents take their time with them and when they don’t.

    Kristi | http://www.beloverly.com

  16. I love this!!! I’ve been considering this a lot just in my own life, and really want to make sure when we do have kids, that I’m taking it all in as much as possible. Thank you for the reminder that it’s OK to let the pace meander a bit.

  17. So much truth in this post!!!

    I too struggle with living by “hurry up.” My 3-year-old now frequently asks me if we’re late because she’s so used to being hurried. There is SO MUCH to be gained by slowing down. Thank you for the great reminder.

  18. With my boys, we take listening walks. We live in a busy city so it can be an over stimulating place. Taking these walks gives us the chance to slow down and listen to what is around us and share what we hear. Sometimes all we have to do is walk down the block. It was inspired by the children’s book “The Listening Walk”

  19. Amy Lauree says...

    I am the queen of telling my kids to hurry up and the more I do it, the more frustrated I get. I don’t know why I expect them to operate at the speed of an adult, and why I don’t take into account the length of time it actually takes to get ready and get out the door to somewhere like school. I love walking my daughter to school in the morning with her little sister, but I find the rushing and pushing them out the door puts them in a bad mood and I make the experience less enjoyable. I love this post, and what a great reminder to live in the moment, observe, perhaps get off our phones as well and just watch our sweet little ones as they are.

  20. Mimi Chi says...

    I know I really need to slow down when my son asked for 1 day to do nothing as his reward in his reward jar!! This is a great post.

  21. Marissa says...

    I’ve been trying to do this so often recently. I’m extremely face paced and busy and feel like I’m constantly just trying to get from one activity to the next. Recently I’ve really tried to take a minute to just enjoy the book I’m reading with my son before bed instead of thinking about how I need to do laundry and make lunch and 12 other things before I can go to bed for example. I love just savoring the kids as often as I can, even though it’s hard to fight my go-go-go nature, it really make a difference.

  22. So true. Last night my kids (5 and almost 8) slept in the same bed and the big one read to the little one. I couldn’t help but give them tons of kisses and pet their little cherub faces. Sometimes motherhood is a major dose of sensory overload.

  23. I need to do more of this. My daughter is now 15 and I still can’t help myself. She’s at an age where she actually tells me to slow down. “Mom, stop worrying, I have everything under control.”. I hear that one a LOT!

  24. tricia says...

    I really like this, too, and do my best to slow down and be mindful with my two little ones, age 2 and 4. However, there are those times that you do need to get somewhere at a certain time (for instance, husband and I both have early work meetings and kiddos must get to daycare) and I struggle with those times. How to help them along with breakfast, getting dressed, and getting to daycare without making everyone stressed out and frustrated (parents included). I try humor and making things into a game whenever possible, but some days it is a struggle. Any advice on that front?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sometimes, as you say, you need to hurry, and I think it’s totally okay to encourage kids to understand that. That’s part of life, too.

      One thing we do is turn getting dressed into a race. We have a chill morning, and then at 8pm, I say, “ok, toby! I’m getting in the shower! I’m going to win today!” And immediately he runs into his room and starts getting dressed. Adorably, it takes him almost as much time to get dressed as it takes me to shower, get dressed AND put on makeup, but in the end we are both ready :)

    • Jo says...

      My 3 year old son can’t resist a race either…he’ll refuse to get ready but as soon as you say ‘I’m gonna win!’, it lights this fire under him and he’s fast! We totally use this when we have to be on time somewhere. My other son is 15 months and is just at the stage where you have to pin him down to do anything – shoes, clothes, nappy changes – but often my older son will ‘race’ my younger son to get ready. Really, he’s racing me, but in the end they are both ready so everybody wins!

  25. Kristen says...

    I LOVE this article. I don’t have children, but I have taught childrens dance as a hobby for the past 10 plus years and helped raise my significantly younger brother. At Easter I attended a family get together and was cringing at all of the parents micromanaging their children’s hunt for eggs. They wouldn’t even give them 10 seconds to explore in a direction they chose, and the hunt was over within 3 minutes with parents yelling directions or literally hovering over them the entire time. Let’s let kids be kids and enjoy the ride with them, they will slow us down and maybe teach us a thing or two!

  26. Lauren says...

    This sounds amazing! I don’t have any children yet, but this is how I like to live my life — just slowly meandering around the block; taking photos of buildings that inspire me, flowers that move me, city scenes that leave me in awe. Needless to say, I am always late and it takes me hours to get things done! And if I am with a companion – forget it! They hate me by the time our walk together is over. But I never feel guilty… I just love taking in the world and enjoying it, so the idea that this is a “thing” is very exciting, and I’m glad I won’t have to give it up one day when I’m a parent.

    • Don’t change! Those of us who have ants in our pants need people around us who’d rather be a snail. Otherwise we’ll miss the good stuff.

  27. Meredith says...

    I was really patting myself on the back the other day for letting my 14 month old stop and examine the fire hydrant for as long as she wanted. I then realized she was actually licking it — yes, the same fire hydrant that every neighborhood dog pees on. Need to be a bit more selective about where/ how I practice this “slow parenting” thing.

    • This just made me laugh pretty hard! I have a 5 year old and “selectively” also practice Slow Parenting, keep up the good work!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      laughing out loud at my desk. thanks, meredith!!

    • Thanks for the laugh. I just inhaled a piece of lettuce through the roof of my mouth.

    • Jo says...

      Oh I love this! My 15 month old was exploring in the garden last week and ate a live snail! My husband managed to fish a lot of it out of his mouth but there was shell and slime and everything. I don’t mind him eating the odd bit of dirt, but I draw the line at snails!

  28. Ana Simoes says...

    I actually rearranged my schedule in order NOT to rush. I decided to take the mornings for kids adventures – and yes, sometimes it takes us an hour to walk to the bakery on the corner and buy some bread. We go to playground or just go see the ducks in the morning, when there are only a few (more like 2) kids around and we go walking /shopping / strolling in the mornings. I only thought about this when I was trying to understand why the baby (and I) were becoming so irritated in the afternoon. After all, it was because of all the other children on the playground, or all the other people on the supermarket. We had to hurry all the time. Hurry to let the other children down the slide; hurry to make all the grocery shopping before dinner-time… So now we lay low at home during the afternoons – I work and he plays – and we have our slow fun in the morning. Today we went to the harbour and cheered for the female team on Ocean Volvo Race. It was amazing :))))

  29. Courtney says...

    I have been thinking about this too lately! While my friends are coming up with things to keep their toddlers busy this summer (swim class, music lessons, membership to that kid’s gym place), I’ve been dragging my feet to sign my one-year-old son up for anything. It just doesn’t feel right to me to rush around to appointments with this sweet little guy who only wants to explore his world, one wonder at a time. Thanks for the validation! :)

  30. Sanae says...

    Thank you for this post. I can’t agree more! Most of the families we know all have activities almost everyday after school. We are the only family with not much schedule events after school. Sometimes I feel pressured to sign up my kids to all the activities but school is much harder than when I was a kid so my husband and I like decided that kids need down time that they can think what they want to do. I heard that the average outside time for the kids is 7 min. Sad… I really liked this post. Thanks !

  31. Abby says...

    I’ve been parenting my toddler this way since birth. But instead of “slow parenting” my mom calls it “being lazy.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you know what’s best for you and your sweet babe. keep doing what you’re doing! xoxo

  32. Also, in regard to the walks and the boys wanting to stop and explore….I read an article that said your dog hates a fast paced walk. They need to stop and sniff, explore all smells and hate rushing past. I started to apply that to my dog and child! Maybe taking along a little kids camera, or an old digital one, can help them explore AND review their findings later with friends, Dad, etc. I’m sure you have many friends with an old compact digital camera they would gladly give the boys to use!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      fascinating about the comparison to puppies! we’re often saying that anton is like a little puppy (he scampers around, greets you at the door, etc.) and this really rings true.

  33. I don’t have children, but I feel this way with my dog sometimes, ha. We’re going for a walk and I’m like, “Come on, okay, let’s go” and so on. But it’s my break in the middle of the day to walk him. Why not slow down? When we do, it’s great. We meander, he sniffs and pees as he likes and I’m happy to soak in the sunshine. It’s too easy to forget sometimes.

    If I eventually have kids, I want to remember this too. Have you heard of “Unschooling”? Outside Magazine had an article about letting children learn uninhibited in nature. It’s not entirely related, but I think the concepts are similar. Slow down, don’t force it. Kids can show you the beauty you didn’t know to look for if you just let them.

    Here’s the article: http://www.outsideonline.com/1928266/we-dont-need-no-education

  34. Amanda says...

    My daughter and I both recharge our batteries with alone time, although I am more introverted than she. She has a heart condition that limits activities so rather than one thing we find small term activities/classes that are more sporadic, like horseback riding. I hate the over scheduled kid thing, and quite frankly, with a job where I travel it would take a village to get her to normal frequent activities. I work from home (and away) so many summer days are spent reading, at the library, play dates, etc and not rushing out to expensive camps where I feel pressure to have her there by 8:30 and pick her up by 4pm. She can also come with me on certain work outings to nearby cities so a stay at a hotel in Charleston, Asheville, Charlotte, etc., is an adventure and a chance to try new food and explore new sites once my appointments are over for the day! ( she is 12, so that helps!)

  35. Kali says...

    I loved reading this. I’ve managed to sneak it in once in a while but this made me long for it to be habitual.

    Also, I’ve noticed when reading to my almost-four-year-old, she usually knows the books by heart and sometimes just wants to chat about the pictures. At first I would find myself politely answering her and then bringing her back to task, but now, I try to go wherever she goes, whether we read the words or not. It’s when I’ve learned some of the greatest things from her.

  36. This resonates with me at such a deep level. My husband and I just moved our kids to a tiny mountain community and the pace and quiet has made such an impact. Thanks for sharing

  37. For me, it’s a realization that some people have to remind themselves to slow down, stop, watch, listen. If I’m ever hurrying anyone along, it’s myself. I have to scold myself into putting away dishes instead of just eating a leisurely breakfast with my son (after all, he’s restrained by the high chair–he can’t climb into the dishwasher or steal a knife or try to help by putting everything he can into the two accessible drawers in my kitchen). I don’t think it’s ever occurred to me to clean up the bathroom during bath time. Not that I’m always in a blissful state of enjoyment, soaking up my toddler’s childhood–sometimes I’m just staring at a wall. I think motherhood wears me out. I wish I had your energy.

  38. I love all your posts. All your advice. All the things you share! Thanks for your posts. I’m gonna try extra hard with this one!

    • Like-minded sisters! ;)
      Our comments are right next to each other!

  39. So many lovely thoughts. I don’t have children, but I’m going to save this to my document folder of “things to remember when I have kids.”
    Thanks!

  40. jill c. says...

    what a lovely post and i’m so happy to read it. typically we keep sunday as the day to stay close to home or basically not book anything….it’s super important not just be a bit mellow. we sometimes take off to the zoo (which we do rush a bit in the morning to get there before the crowds) but then we linger as long as the kids want. and as another reader posted we are only committing to one activity per child once school begins with them (my kids are still little … 3 and 5). i think it’s important for kids to just be kids…to learn to entertain themselves at home and to just rest. And speaking selfishly I honestly need that day too…

  41. I second what Lexie wrote above! I’m not a parent (well, a dog mama), but I loved this. My mantra lately has been “I have plenty of time,” and I even got a bracelet made that reads that to remind me! Sometimes I feel like the whole day has gone by and I haven’t breathed out once. This is a glorious reminder to have a summer of “plenty of time!” Thank you.

  42. I heard a poem read aloud on a podcast the other day and I cried while listening. It’s called “hurry” by Marie Howe. I won’t paste it all here, but it pops up when googled.

    Beyond what you’ve said here, it made me think of what we’re teaching them, by example. That they will grow to “hurry” their own kids.

  43. Rebekka says...

    Thank you, Joanna! My daughter just turned one and I find that the older she gets, the more I have to slow down. When she was a “real” baby, I’d just take her with me all the time and she would sleep wherever I was – so easy! But now that she has HER rhythms of sleeping and wants to play and explore the world (and go down the slide for the millionth time!) I find that I myself have to slow down in order not to miss the little golden blinks. And I even have to consciously NOT take pictures with my phone in order to not miss it. Great post!

  44. Lisa says...

    I love this. I don’t have kids yet, but some of my close friends do, and I babysit and take part of their life, and we often talk about being stressed and what kind of life they want their kids to have. Sometimes hurrying up is necessary, but sometimes you can just take it slow. Are you going somewhere? Leave 30 minutes earlier than you usually would, leaving time to explore on the way. Did you arrive early? Sit down and talk with your child, or let hem play ro do whatever. And I agree with putting your phone away!

  45. Ceridwen says...

    This post is perfect timing for me. I work full time so often feel pressured for time. I’ve started picking my kids up on Tuesdays (my husband is a full time carer and now student too) and we catch the tram then walk home. I often rush them too. “Come on” “quickly guys!”. But last Tuesday I just let them walk along at their own pace. It was so hard to slow down and surrender to that, to be in that moment and not rush ahead thinking of the next thing I have to do. They held hands and chatted. We laughed and made up stories. We picked up stones and pointed out planes. It was truly lovely.

  46. Marianne says...

    Such an important topic!

    Like you, I have to small boys (soon 5 and 3 years old). I have experienced very much the same thing as you. When I was a new mother I was doing slow parenting, which I found quite easy to do with one baby and maternity leave. Then we had the second child and life was totally different as they grew older – my husband and I are both working full time, the children are delivered and picked up from kindergarden, we have more household chores to do than ever before. I always imagined myself to be a relaxed parent, but often I’m otherwise – hurrying the children up on the way to kindergarden so I’ll be on time for work, rushing them through the grocery shop so we’ll be finished with the food shopping that I find so boring… and I don’t like myself. To them, pretty much everything is an adventure. So I have changed my way lately. And to my surprise it doesn’t necessarily take that much longer, even – maybe five minutes longer to go to kindergarden, ten minutes more in the shop etc. But the children and I are much happier. They sense that I am more relaxed, and most importantly – that I am more mentally present than before. And when they notice I am there for them, they nag considerably less. It’s interesting, isn’t it?

    Enjoy your time-consuming walks around the block! Soon enough I’m sure they’ll be running and want to do other things. My children are small yet, but from the stories I hear from people around me the key to successful parenting and a good parent-child relationship is spending time with the children on their terms. An old lady I know has a grandson who’s 16 – and she likes to sit in his room and watch as he plays computer games! She says he talks a lot when she sits there, whereas he says practically nothing if he has to sit with the elders in the living room and make conversation. I found that so inspiring  Also I find the children to be very helpful with household chores if I involve them and treat them more or less like adults – if I ask them to help and give them time to figure things out they are very patient and happy. They can help set the table, cut vegetables (soft ones with a not-so-sharp knife), bake, clean. So I think if you take time and do things on their terms they will also want to be with you while you do your things. Kids really just want to be with their parents :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so inspiring. i am loving all these comments so much, they are almost making me tear up. thank you, marianne!

    • Marianne,
      This post is like a heaven sent for me. Your comment hit me hard, especially the part about not liking yourself when giving in to the “rush” and hurrying the children. I so feel you!! And thank you for opening my eyes to remember to better savor the moments, slowly.

      Xo

  47. I am the WORST at scheduling everything. I used to take pride in how that can keep us moving and efficient despite busy schedules, balance between family and work, etc. but now this post made me realize how we just can’t be scheduled all the time. We’ll miss out on too much. I read this last night and watched my 1-year-old play with a white (very clean) trash can while he added his blocks inside of it. We sat on the porch and listened to the rain. He kept looking up at me to see my reaction to his masterpiece. I’m going to do more of this thanks to your article!

  48. Michael says...

    I’m excellent at doing nothing. Yet I to rush my kids for seems to be no apparent reason.
    When I do slow down with them it’s quite surreal.

  49. Such a refreshing view! I love travelling round at toddlers pace whenever possible – it gives you a fresh look at the world around you too.

  50. Marija says...

    Than you, thank you :)
    This post came to me at the right time, but I’d love to him read a few years ago. Thanks again.
    Greetings from Croatian.

  51. annie g says...

    Interesting post. When kids are very small you do tend to find yourself constantly telling them to hurry up and walk properly or keep up or don’t dawdle – driven by fear, I think. Always worrying about roads and other people and being late or missing something. I often look back to this time when my children were small and wish I could do it again – and better. Less naggy. More laid back. Cooler. Trouble is: I’d need to be a completely different person…Fortunately, I think it disappears as they get older and more independent. If it doesn’t, then you need to get off that particular merry-go-round sharpish. Few things are more irritating than the proudly over-scheduled mother and her list of must-dos. Everybody should make time to sit and read or just potter. Kids have an inbuilt ability which we tend to override.
    Just saying. No pressure. We all do our best.

  52. Hannah says...

    As the mom of 3 very busy (and loud) boys 9 and under, I feel constantly harried. It’s hard to not be always a little on edge with the noise, dirt, and chaos that they can create. It’s so overwhelming at times that I feel like it’s me against them. A whole day will go by and I’ll realize after my boys are in bed that I really didn’t take time to notice them as individuals. I read a lovely little bit recently about making sure that a child is known, seen, and loved each day. I’ve made that my new parenting mantra. Even if it’s daily just a few minutes alone with each boy, that time to connect is so important for them and me. It reminds me just how fantastic they are and just how much I love them! So thankful for these sweet reminders to slow down and just be.

  53. Martha says...

    This is so important! When my 11 year old (!!) was 2, we went to the Children’s Museum every Wednesday. I realized that I was rushing him from room to room each time. So I decided shut my mouth and let him go at his own pace. Some days he would spend the entire time in one room! I have such great memories of watching him play and explore in great detail.

  54. Chika says...

    Thank you, Joanna. Slow parenting, that is exactly what I needed right now.

  55. Joanne says...

    Hi Joanna,

    I have a book suggestion. I heard a child psychologist, Alex Russell, (from Toronto, Ontario) speak about children and anxiety. He has written a book Drop the Worry Ball. His approach to raising children involves ideas like this. I think you might like the book.

  56. Emmy says...

    Lovely, lovely post! I’ve been reading for years and this is one of my faves ever. Totally agree with this idea – and I’m sure practicing it fosters patience and focus in the kids as well.

  57. Ashley says...

    At some point with two littles, I realized going most places was so stressful and ruined all the fun I was trying to create in the first place. I imagine it’s different in NYC, but packing bags and getting into the car is an event in itself! I am learning to follow our rhythms and enjoy simply playing in the backyard or dance parties in the kitchen. I love this philosophy of slow parenting.

  58. Caroline says...

    My mum told me that when I was little she’d turn around and see me 5ft behind her, struggling to keep up, and she’d have to slow down so I wouldn’t be out of breath. Now that I’m 20, I’m taller than her and my strides are naturally much longer than hers, so every now and again I look over at her, speed walking next to me, and remember that I have to slow down now. It’s funny how time changes things like that.

    • molly says...

      This is so sweet!! I love the role-reversal :)

  59. ali says...

    What a great post! Thank you for sharing.

    I’m a single mom of a two year old who was recently diagnosed with an unexpected illness- It’s been a very challenging week. I have been finding myself over stressed and over worked and in need of some slowing down. Worrying about my son’s health, financial and insurance issues, I’ve been feeling depleted.

    There can be so many things we can’t control but we can control how we interact with our day, to others, our children and how we respond.
    What a well needed reminder to slow down and just be and focus on what truly matters.

  60. I try to slow down when I know we don’t have to be in a rush. But it can be hard sometimes when my daughter stops to play with pebbles or pick weeds. I guess I have a lot to learn my kid who enjoys the little things. :)
    http://www.sweetlytattered.com

  61. Amy says...

    I love this in theory (and I do do some of it naturally; being an introvert I’m not prone to overscheduling), but I’m bad at it in practice. I get a high from being efficient and doing a good job of taking care of the house and cooking and doing laundry – lingering on the floor drives me crazy. This is definitely something I need to work on! I hate taking walks with my kids because we’re not walking, we’re basically sitting still. I’d rather pack them both in the stroller and then at least I feel like I’m getting somewhere :P

  62. Susan says...

    This is really beautiful and so timely for me and my two boys. Thank you! I remember reading an article once written by a woman advocating that children need unstructured playtime, be allowed to get ‘bored’ in order to learn how to creatively respond to these moments in their own way instead of being continually entertained or scheduled by their parents. In her words, children should be left to roam around the house and garden, clucking about like little chickens. I loved that analogy! When I see my 1 and 4 year old exploring their surroundings in an uninhibited way, I think of how content and free they must feel to scratch about, dig up insects and worms, play in the dirt, etc. Happy little chickens!! ;)

    • molly says...

      Hi Susan! I LOVE the chicken comparison :)

  63. Elizabeth says...

    A beautiful reminder. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with this. I think many parents hurry their kids along without even realizing it. I know I do with my 3- and 1-year-olds. I will keep these words in my head. Tomorrow is a new day and I will remember to take it slow and let my children go at their (curious, awe-filled) pace.

  64. Great article ! The kind that makes you stop to think. I have 2 daughters and I’m always on the rush but i also love not to do anything and have nothing planned so that we can just live the day. I was feeling guilty for this, but your article made me realize that it is a good thing. Thank you !

  65. Renae says...

    I love this post and the concept behind it. Great reminder to sloooow down.

  66. Jessica says...

    Just last month my husband, son and I moved away from New York City to slow our pace and spend intentional time together as a family. Although I had never heard of slow parenting, it’s what I’ve recently been practicing–letting my son explore and interact with the world on his timeframe. We ditched the tv and (gasp) internet and instead read books aloud all evening, or take a stroll to see the baby ducks down the street, or allow bubble baths to last as long as we please. I feel more balanced and confident in motherhood, and family life feels amazingly calm. One other point I’d challenge moms to consider (on which I’ve been challenged greatly) is to reflect on WHEN you discipline your kids. Do you discipline when their behavior is disobedient or when it’s just inconvenient? I find myself disciplining most when my son is not meeting my timeframe expectations, but not necessarily committing an offense. Great post, Joanna!

  67. Casey says...

    I am a fan of this movement. I like to think I’m halfway there. I love to follow my almost 2 year old’s lead. I like birds so I point them out and he notices them now. He hears them chirp and watches them look for food. He says, “touch?!” Their point of fee is so different than ours, but just as cool :) great reminder to slow it down.

  68. I have thought about and worried over some of these very things. I often come back to a book special to me, Mitten Strings for God. It helps reset my frame of mind. You will find this desire to “slow-parent” even stronger as your boys enter grade school. I have felt the school year days literally fly before me and long for slow summer days together. It’s not always easy to do, friends are often all booked with camps or travel. I’m not sure what happened to the days where kids hung out all day long at each other’s homes, but I miss that. Not that all three of mine babies are in grade school, summers are the prize I wait for all year long! xx

  69. Erin Cochran says...

    In all the many years I’ve read your lovely blog, this is my absolute favorite post of yours’. Bravo. Beautiful, meaningful message. Thank you so much.

  70. My husband and I have been protective of our family time and keep one activity/sport per kid. That way we are not the typical american family rushing to an event every single night. I’m thankful that so far this has worked out for us. We live in a cul de sac and I love watching them outside :) Yay for slower parenting!

  71. Really enjoyed this post. I don’t have children yet but hope to keep this in mind in the future! I remember when I was little often the big, intentional things my parents did I don’t remember but the smallest things my parents did often had the biggest impact.
    Madeleine, The Daily Mark

  72. Alison says...

    My husband and i have agreed to have one day per weekend where our little family sees where the day takes us. We do not make any plans with friends and all of our errands can be done on the other weekend day. It turns out to be the best day of the week everytime.

  73. Katy says...

    Such good advice!!! My kids are teenagers and I miss those days. I would go back and slow things down if I had a do-over. I wonder how you “slow parent” with teens.

  74. What an honest and inspiring way to look at how we do things around children. As a non-parent, I love reading these things and trying to take it all in before I do have children. Especially when they’re little we always push them to learn this, do that, be quicker at things but this is such a nice way to realise the small everyday things are just as important. Great read!

    Megan || http://www.ohheyblog.com

  75. Jessica says...

    Love this. I definitely find myself hurrying my little ones along before realizing there is no need to actually be in a hurry and that it’s actually ok to sit and examine a leaf or a crack in the sidewalk for a while. I just find it to be so hard as an adult to slow down and not be in a rush. Definitely going to take this challenge for the next month!

  76. I love doing nothing and taking the slow approach, especially in this weather! Sometimes I wonder if this part of our lives would be different if we didn’t live in Brooklyn – at least when we are going somewhere. In the suburbs growing up, it took us 10 minutes to drive to school. But since we walk everywhere, it might take us 10 minutes, or 20, or 30 to get to school a few blocks away. . . unless we tell those cuties to speed it along ;)

  77. Abby says...

    I loved this! I’m a nanny and I tend to take the slow-nannying approach when it comes to activities. Parents are usually surprised when they find out that we went on a 2 hour walk, but kids are so good at entertaining themselves – it makes me happy to give them the time and space to just explore and look around. It’s also way less stressful for me to not have to constantly nag the kids to hurry keep moving.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that. you sound like such a great nanny, who can get on their wavelength. those kids are lucky to have you!

  78. Shari says...

    I’m into slow parenting and slow living in general so I lap up any affirming articles like this. I am at home with my three little boys full-time. If there is anything at home and in our relationships that aren’t ‘flowing’ or don’t feel right, 99% of the time slowing down (again) solves it. We are all precious, vulnerable beings and we need to look after ourselves.

  79. jeannie says...

    I totally love this post. I think we find out the most about our children when we just stop and watch what they are doing or looking at. It is a gift to slow down with them and accompany them on their own walk, interest, etc. Awesome awesome post!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a great post! thank you for the link.

  80. Joanna says...

    I believe fully in slow parenting and slow living so its nice to see it in tour blog. I don’t book our time but rather enjoy just being together. Thanks for the link to that article.

  81. KM says...

    My husband and I (naturally) subscribe to this parenting style! Our daughters are 3 and 2, and we spend lots of time just hanging at home. I’ve created a home environment that is creative and colorful, and allows them to be a part of every room. Often times our weekend “plans” include a pancake breakfast, a visit to the kids park, and then a little grocery store run together. I look forward to the days when the girls can participate more and more with cooking/baking, and crafting at home!

  82. I think this is important. As someone without children, this still really resonates with me. Those orders and demands you tell your children (Hurry up, Do it this way, Don’t be late, Come on let’s go) are all things I tell myself right after I get off work. Hurry up, get to yoga, then you can relax, but then you really quickly have to go to Whole Foods and get dinner really fast and get home before a certain time or else the whole world is going to end!!!! And once you get home you have to do all your dishes before you can clean your room and take out the trash and hurry, hurry it’s getting late, OMG it’s midnight! Time to sleep and start the litany over again. Tonight I’m going to just chill out and forget about my silly little mom in my head telling me what I should do or how I should do it and with what speed. “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a good point. xoxo ps love “silly little mom in my head” :)

  83. Stephanie says...

    My son is 40 and this item really resonated with me. We really did rush through his childhood, the result of a high-stress job and being a single parent for a period when he was young. So I’ve decided to “slow grandparent” my 8 year old grandson. This piece just cemented my decision. Thanks!

  84. Abby says...

    The best trick for me to slow down while with my kids is putting my phone far in my pocketbook and not taking it out. The urge to ‘check something really fast’ has gone away. I’ve always wanted to keep my phone at a distance while with my kids and then I watched the movie Men, Women and Children- which was enough to make you want to throw your phone away!!

  85. Whenever us adults are seeing or experiencing something new we’re sure to slow down and take things in. I bet you wouldn’t be rushing down the street if it were in a foreign country you’ve never been :) We forget that what’s familiar to us is brand new to children (even a bicycle pedal). I definitely think we owe it to them to let them go at their own pace when possible. Great post!

    http://www.DisforDreamer.com

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is SUCH a good point. i love that. and really looking around is more fun that you would expect something — seeing the leaves changing on trees, looking at the houses as you walk by and imagining living there, saying hi to people walking by, etc… it’s more fun and engaging than i would have thought.

  86. Abbie says...

    I found as an elementary school teacher the exact same principle applies. Humans need space to breathe! Children just take their space (and time) and adults feel they can power through (myself included) and are so much unhappier as a result. It is admittedly hard to practice this every day with my own kids though!!

  87. This really struck a note with me, my boys are already young adults (20,22,24) but I practiced slow parenting without even knowing it when they were young, making sure not to over schedule, enjoying the little things, taking the time, we are a very close knit family, enjoy being with each other and I still feel that I am taking them in and loving and cherishing every moment we are together. Thank you for reminding me how important that is.

  88. Erin in AZ says...

    I was a single mom and didn’t have much extra money so we did things like, garden, hike or camp. We had a ‘Nature’s Wonder basket’ that we would put treasures in that we found on our adventures, or even in the back yard while tilling the soil. Struggling like we did almost forced me to “slow parent” or just be more in the moment. While it was trying financially, I would do it all the same if I had to do it again. My now 22 year old daughter tells me all the time she loved that we spent so much time just ‘being’.

  89. What a shifting concept! It really does bring a new perspective to how we approach everyday situations.

  90. Laura C says...

    Oh my God, this is totally true. My girls are 4 and 20 months and I am always hurry. I have to say that I am jobless and I spend every afternoon and evening with them without my husband to give me a hand, and I often end up tired and upset. It is hard for me to go out in a town like ours with too many cars and not too many gardens.
    Anyway, sometimes I manage to see those little things you have told us before like watching ants or singing old Disney songs and you are right, they are the sweetest moments.
    And the penny walk is an awesome idea!
    xxx

  91. Siets says...

    I had to comment because it reminded me of my sleepovers at my grandparents. They always planned trips to museums, and parks. Lots of things, while we simple loved playing a boardgame and helping grocery shopping at the local market(where my grandfather taught me to eat fish). My best memories are from sitting at their kitchen table.

  92. melissa says...

    I agree it’s HARD to slow down, especially if you’re the busy type who is prone to being bored. But at the really early ages, like your boys, and like my children, they truly make their own fun- they don’t really need planned activities! Their needs like imagining and just playing and your attention can all happen easily without much forethought and without any props. At the older ages I know there will be plenty of need for scheduled things, but for now, we should slow down as much as we can! (p.s. I liked The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson, a humorous and thoughtful look at this topic.)

    • melissa says...

      and by that I meant, the type like me, who is generally kind of “busy” and prone to being bored- and impatient! Not pointing that at you Joanna:)

  93. Rachel says...

    The poem “Hurry” by Marie Howe’s anthology “The Kingdom of Ordinary Time” is posted next to my desk at work. It reminds me that if we keep hurrying up, we end up missing everything. Perfectly summing it up for me:
    Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave? / To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my goodness, i am so moved. thank you, rachel xo

  94. Wallace says...

    This is so on par with what I’d like to do. I have SIMPLICITY PARENTING by Kim Payne on my Amazon wish list for just this reason. This makes me want to go ahead and order it today so that I can get into a mindful headspace before my little guy arrives in a few weeks. Great post, Joanna.

    • Hannah says...

      Do it! I had it in my Amazon cart forever and now that I finally ordered it and am currently reading and loving it, I regret waiting so long!

  95. Vanessa Gomez says...

    Wow thank you for this Joanna. I too am guilty of this with my 2 year old. Not for any specific reason other than I just move faster than he does too! I definitely will be trying this out as well.

  96. Rachel says...

    Such a lovely post! We try to live in a “slow parenting” way with our 3 boys, but it does require intention not to get trapped by the fast-paced world around us. This past weekend, we didn’t make travel plans. At the last minute, we considered going camping but didn’t have reservations, etc. My husband randomly suggested camping in the backyard, and the boys lit up with excitement. We grilled hot dogs, made smores, told stories with flashlights, and just laughed. Their favorite part was star-gazing late at night all snuggled together. Sometimes the simple times leave the biggest impression on your heart. Thanks for the reminder!

  97. Yes! This is great! It also serves as a reminder to put the phones or tablets away when we’re with ours kids. Such an awful habit but I have to remind myself of it a lot. :(

  98. MJ says...

    This really resonates with me. My daughters are 2 and 6, I stay home with them primarily but I’m also in graduate school. “real quick” is an annoying thing I always find myself saying. Two weeks ago I broke my foot, it has made me obviously slllooowww down. It has actually been a good thing, I’m noticing all these little things about my daughters I find so endearing that I was missing because I was always running off to do a quick chore, or phone call or whatever. They grow so quickly I don’t want to miss anymore time by rushing through it!

  99. Guilty. There are many days that I would love to get a do-over on (our son is 22 now, too late, oh well…). That being said, at least we never let ourselves get sucked into all of those organized activities (sports, lessons, classes, more sports, more lessons, more more more…) that modern parents seem to think are so essential. It’s insane how BUSY these kids are, and how much time their harried parents (or nannies) spend shepherding them from one activity to another. No one has time to just hang out, and just be with each other. I think that the Slow Parenting movement is a healthy reaction to all that. Hurrah, I say.

  100. Nicole says...

    This is so sweet and SO important to remember! My husband and I both work full-time and our weeks are often filled with trying to get home, get baths done, get the kids fed, then clean up, do the next day’s chores, etc. before it’s bedtime. We’re just moving on to the next thing without even really slowing down and really taking in our kids. My boys are 3 and 5 and there are days where it will hit me how fast they’re growing up, so I’ll do that – I’ll set next to the tub and just watch them play and talk to them and ask them about their day. I’ll actually sit down on the couch next to them while they watch their show and watch the show with them instead of sticking my nose in my phone (very hard to do, let me tell ya’!). But, I long to slow down with them as much as they long to have my full attention and it’s easy to quickly brush these longings aside as we plow through our routines and activities. We think we’re having fun, but really, all kids want is for you to pay them attention and focus on what they want to do, even if it is just a walk down the street at night to find dried up worms from the afternoon sun. I love your parenting posts. They’re so informative and thought-provoking and often times gentle reminders of what’s really important. Enjoy your next walk!

  101. Marta says...

    This post reminds be of the book I’m reading currently, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Titled A Country Called Childhood: Children and the Exuberant World, the author Jay Griffiths argues in the most eloquent/thoughtful way for slowed parenting, in a way. I hang on every poetic sentence.

  102. My boys and I take listening walks around our neighborhood, sometimes just down the block. We share all the little and big things we hear, be it the birds, the leaves rustling in the wind to sirens or big trucks going by…..
    Sometimes before going out, we read the book, “The Listening Walk”

  103. Jaclyn says...

    I don’t have kids and it always bothers me how much I notice parents over-disciplining their children. Sometimes it’s to the point where it stresses me out and makes me feel like I might be misbehaving.

    I realize it’s much easier as an outsider of a situation but I frequently find myself just wanting to say to the parent, “Chill out, your child is acting perfectly well behaved and is not actually doing anything wrong.”

    On a recent trip to get ice cream, my husband and I witnessed this little girl just sort of stepping back and forth in place, enjoying her ice cream and humming to herself. Her mother was sitting at a table within arm’s reach of the little girl and yet the mother kept repeatedly barking at the little girl unnecessary directions like, “Don’t go too far!” “Stay right here!” “Don’t spill your ice cream!” “Don’t get it in your hair!” “Just sit down next to me!”
    Meanwhile, the little girl was perfectly self-contained, not making a mess, not in anyone’s way, never moving more than a foot from the table, simply just trying to enjoy some ice cream and her mom probably left that ice cream shop having totally stressed herself out for nothing.

  104. Elisa says...

    I totally agree with the whole “slow parenting” philosophy. We do a lot of time just hanging out at home, or gardening/playing in the dirt in our yard. I think it’s such a good reminder to give them some space, not always be giving instructions and just observe. We’ve been pretty adamant against signing up our 4.5 year old for many activities (t-ball is a 3 day a week commitment, no thank you!). We’re also very careful to avoid threats/punishments and have more meaningful conversations. It’s a real challenge to be a gentle parent, but so rewarding.

  105. Kerry says...

    YES. Thank you. I needed this, after a few crazy weeks and even crazier weekends. This week and weekend, we’ll try to just… be.

  106. Mallory says...

    What a lovely reminder. We usually skip the stroller with our 1.5 yo daughter so she can walk, but of course I find myself saying, “come on/hurry up/let’s go” about a million times in the span of minutes, when we’re not, in fact, in a hurry. I’m going to make an intentional effort to slow down and go at her pace for once.

  107. Courtney says...

    This really, really hit me. I am always rushing my 2 year old and even today noticed I started to clean half way through her lunch and then she said she was done. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post, I can’t wait to try it. This blog is life changing, really.

  108. My boys are 16 and 11 and summer has always been the time when we all slow down. Apart from trips and the odd science camp, there are no scheduled activities. The 4 of us take walks every night before we go to bed and the boys pursue their hobbies. My younger son, whose absolute favorite activity is to make and fly paper airplanes, will doodle and try out new designs (we are celebrating National Paper Airplane Day today!) and my 16 year old is going to be practicing his Japanese. For my part, I limit the number of times my conversations with them revolve around cleaning up their room or food or laundry and instead focusing on what they want to talk about- water rockets, who is going to move to Mars (both of them), anime, girls, and not necessarily in that order. Sorry about the long comment but I have found slow parenting to be very rewarding for all of us! Of course, it’s easier in the summer but it’s something to aim for the entire year.

  109. Anitra says...

    this is beautiful! I wholeheartedly agree and am getting off my butt and going outside to watch my kids :)

  110. This is the reassurance I needed to remind myself that I’m doing things right! I mean, I do hurry the girls along once in a while (ages 1 and 3) but mostly I just sit and watch them and soak in every moment. I try to picture myself in 20 years (heck, even 10), aching for the days when they were little and wanted to just see/touch their sweet baby faces one more time. It sounds depressing, but it reminds me to just be in the moment and slow down, because one day, they won’t need me for baths, or need my hand to hold, or me to wipe their faces.
    I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it!
    Great post. Thank you.

  111. Lisa M says...

    On Sunday we drove up to Boston to visit my brother. He just moved back east and is still house hunting while his wife and daughter are finishing up school in San Diego. We spent the day wandering. We went to Harvard Yard, took the T to Boston Commons, walked to Quincy Market and down to the North End and the Harbor. I apologized to the kids at the end of the day because I thought we really didn’t do anything fun. My son said it was an awesome day – they got to ride a train, eat ice cream, watch ducks and swans, listen to musicians in the park, and find jelly fish in the harbor. I thought we failed them because we didn’t go to a museum! Wonderful timing. I’ll try to slow down as much as I can to enjoy this glorious summer!

  112. Jen says...

    what a great reminder!

  113. Julia says...

    Dear Joanna, this is very interesting! For my part, i think i don’t rush the kids too much (only if i notice that they are hungry (=reason for being whiny) or tired (=same). But usually outside, at the playground or walking on the street, i don’t mind to take time.. :-) My boy (he is 3) loves the metro and busses and sometimes we just spend one hour riding on a bus or changing metro lines 2 times, without concrete plan where to go. We just take a few stops, then change and then we go back another way. Only for the fun of him screaming out of excitement when the train comes or he is waving goodbye when it passes… :-))
    I’ve read somewhere about being aware and being in the moment. I feel that i am getting inpatient if i am not there with my thoughts…it helps to get focussed on what we are doing right now (like spending time with the kids) . And for them anyway, it doesn’t really matter that much, what we are doing with them, its more important to be together and to enjoy each other!

  114. Melissa says...

    I’m so glad you shared this! It’s such a great reminder. I often rush and hurry as well. I do notice it and try to catch myself, these little ones ARE so fascinating and grow up so fast!

  115. Laura says...

    I love this so much! My daughter (2) and I frequently do a walk around the block during the week once we’re home from work and daycare. It can take anywere from 15 – 50 minutes but it is amazing the things she points out (that I normally would not notice) and the people we meet. So fun!

  116. Poppy says...

    Thank you so much for this post. It is so timely for me..I have been feeling like I am constantly rushing..and struggling with the conflict of wanting to be present and enjoy my children growing, but also overwhelmed with work, home, life. It is really refreshing and helpful to be reminded that slowing down need not take a ground breaking shift in schedule or life style..whci can end up feeling like another pressure ..just to simply take a moment to be present and enjoy can create that inner shift..thanks for this!!

  117. Kellie P. says...

    Wow, this post actually made me feel better about my parenting! I often worry that I don’t do enough with my little one; I am a homebody and although we go for a walk every day, I tend to shy away from busy places during the week when I am tired after work. More often than not, we just chill at home or in the backyard. I feel less bad about this now, after you pointed out the positive aspects of taking it slow. So, thanks! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i wish i could be more like that (and am trying to be)! your child must love that beautiful down time. chilling at home or in the backyard sounds wonderful!

  118. That first photo is so darn sweet! I hope I remember half of the thoughts on parenting that you share, when I have a child! Thanks for sharing, I really love this concept of slowing down <3

    Charlie, http://www.lemonbutterlove.com

  119. Madeline says...

    I was just talking about this with my husband! It was great to read your post. Spending those quiet moments just watching are some of my favorite times with my children.

  120. J says...

    I love this. I got this same tip from my mom, who generously cares for our son during the day. After raising her own children, I think she naturally adopts this philosophy with her grandchildren, recognizing how precious the time is. It’s from my mom that I’ve picked up my toddler’s favorite evening activity — roaming around the block. One trip around the block is usually the goal, though sometimes we just turn around. I let him lead the way and stop whenever he wants… to pick up leaves or pine cones, to stick his hands in puddles, to awkwardly stare at someone mowing their lawn, to take a rest sitting on the neighbor’s curb. Usually one trip around our not-large block takes 30-40 minutes at his wandering pace. We live in a pretty boring suburban neighborhood, but I know he loves these walks and when I get home from work he is often already trying to put his shoes on and say “Out!” It is so fun to get that time with him and point things out together. I really love it.

    • Erin says...

      “awkwardly stare at someone mowing their lawn” made me laugh out loud. Such a great, evocative, familiar image. Anyway, all sounds wonderful. Bravo to you and your lovely mom.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha, me too, love that line and the whole sentiment.

  121. Alison says...

    Thank you for this. I *really* needed to hear it. My little guy is growing up so quickly that I need to remind myself to slow down and just chill.

  122. Cat says...

    It’s all about being mindful and present. I don’t even think you need to have kids to get the message of this post. Be present with your spouse or significant other. Be mindful with you mom. Be present while doing a task at work or when you’re cooking by yourself at home.

  123. Adrienne says...

    Amen to this post! I couldn’t agree more and as a working mom it is tough but I am trying! Your words were inspirational especially as summer approaches.

  124. Sarah says...

    I agree. I think as adults we feel the need to fill the days or at least leave the house on weekends. My son is just happy puttering around the house, playing with his friends on the street, drawing, or “working” on his library (he pretends his bedroom is a library and he reorganizes all of his books periodically). He’s at school all week and he needs downtime like the rest of us. He’s also a little introvert so school can be quite exhausting. Sometimes after school he’s too tired to even talk.

  125. Great post! It’s sometimes the simplest ideas that you need to be reminded to do. You get so busy and impatient in real life it because I bad habit. We don’t have kids yet but we have our god-daughter a lot and I feel so bad after reading this because I do rush her 2 1/2 year old self! I will definitely be more cognizant of this in the future. Thanks!

  126. Gabriella says...

    It’s funny–my mom has always made this observation to me, that children and adults go at different paces and part of being a patient parent is adjusting to that whenever possible. Some days when I’m really busy and frenetic (it’s NYC, after all) I think about myself as a small child, stopping to look at flowers and insects. I don’t have kids yet, but sometimes even just thinking about my former self and what I used to notice helps me to slow down.

  127. Kate says...

    My children are 2 years and 4 days apart. Maybe a month before my son’s due date, I decided to do just this: slow down and watch my daughter. We had just gone to the grocery store and she wanted to watch the cars and trucks go by, so I decided to snap a photo (of course) and then join her in checking out the world from 3 feet. She was so content, arms folded on the base of the shopping cart return, chin resting on her wrists… I can still see it now, and I’m so glad that I stopped. I need to do that more.

  128. Aya says...

    I love this. What a good reminder to be mindful and to enjoy the fleeting moments.

  129. Megan says...

    It’s funny, I just had a minor knee injury and have to move more slowly than usual. I was even having to take steps one at a time for awhile there and it’s both amusing in its childishness and also kind of fun to just look around and appreciate my lovely neighborhood instead of rushing to the end point. Good reminder for everyone!

  130. samantha says...

    I don’t have kids, but I like to do this at parties–just step back for a moment and watch the people I love being in one place having a good time. It’s especially fun to watch people having a dance party.

  131. Bianca says...

    Rarely do I comment on a blog! But I just needed to read this and now to do this!

  132. My yoga teacher, who is also my friend, loves to say “children are our wisest teachers”. In those moments when I, like you, force myself to slow down for my daughter’s sake, it is the ultimate “practice”, the ultimate opportunity to grow as a human being. What a gift we have in these challenges unique to spending time with children!

  133. Tari says...

    Thank you for this post! I was rushing my kid home down the street with grocery bags today, but a neighbor caught is just before we went inside and invited us for a first play date later on. Then my child saw a caterpillar and we stayed and watched it for a while. I am going to try to slow down each day, especially when it’s nice out!

  134. I never realized how impatient I was until I had a toddler. Walking to the grocery store two blocks away can take 45 minutes – and it drives me crazy sometimes! I just try to remind myself how short life is and how much fun he is having looking at that tiny ant for 8 minutes…

    My best slow parenting tip is to add some little things: letting him butter his own toast, washing dishes together, letting him lead me around on a hike instead of having a route all mapped out, etc. All of those things are slow and messy but – so what? We also try to get away camping or anywhere else that phones and computers are not available.

  135. love love love this

  136. I think (I hope) I’m pretty good at this – at least at just watching them sometimes, and drinking them in. But I do find myself constantly trying to hurry them up (especially my super stonery 4 year old). The thing about hurrying them like that is: it doesn’t even work. Just letting them do things at their pace vs. badgering them to hurry up, actually takes about the same amount of time. The badgering just stresses everyone out and slows them down even more. And when I really stop and think about it, there are only really a few moments in a day (at this age) when it is actually super important to hurry up and be on time. Thanks for the reminder! I love your motherhood posts!

    Best, from Mina in Stockholm
    http://www.minipiccolini.com

  137. I couldn’t agree more, Joanna! This just crossed my mind recently as I often prompt my 2 year old to hurry up as well. This last weekend, we took a trip to Northern Nevada, where my two year old happily played in my friend’s backyard sandbox for, easily, three hours. He was so happy. And I enjoyed drinking my coffee and watching him play. I too try to fill our leisure time with “fun” activities to keep us all occupied- but you’re right, I think this slow parenting thing is crucial!

  138. Clare says...

    Someone recently told me about ‘penny walks’. You walk to the end of a/your street and toss a coin. Heads you go this way – tails the other. Do the same at the next junction and the next…who knows where you’ll end up. The toughest lesson I’m learning is to let the wee one lead sometimes and relinquish control :-)

    • Oh my goodness, I love that!

  139. What awesome food for thought!! I don’t have kids yet, but when I do I definitely want to take time to enjoy it. I think these lessons can be applied even to people who don’t have families. I want to enjoy, and not rush, the little moments with my husband and cat!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

  140. Anita says...

    Great post! I often find it difficult not to do anything while around my two children (ages 1 and 4). I am just so used to getting things done – but little kids should be able to explore and take their time. I will try, too, to slow down!

  141. Ellen says...

    I like it. I’m not a very patient person, but I feel that sometimes I “get it” and have a really good day, where my 2 year old can take all the time he wants even if that means it will take 5 minutes to even START climbing those stairs…

  142. I love this post… This is exactly how I want to be when I’m a mom some day! So sweet, and thank you for sharing.

  143. Meghan says...

    As a stay-at-home-mom, I feel a ton of pressure to constantly stimulate my daughter’s brain, to constantly entertain her, because it’s my job. It’s why I quit my first job. One day I asked her what she wanted to do and she said, “ride the ferry.” I asked where she wanted to go on the ferry and she said, “Nowhere. Just ride the ferry.” So we did! We took it to Wall St/Pier 11 and back and she was thrilled.

  144. Lexie says...

    I feel like I need to try out “slow living” as I am not a parent, but I find myself rushing through EVERYTHING! I don’t even know why!

    • Agreed! Sometimes it’s just habit to rush around. At the airport today we were early and had lots of time but I was trying to figure out the fastest line in security. But suddenly I was like, why? Let’s just pick any line!

  145. alyssa says...

    Thank you for sharing this, it resonates with me as well. I’ve felt compelled lately to not give in to the pressure of trying to make every single moment enriching and elaborate for my child– sometimes just being a child is enough. I recall my own childhood as wondrous, magical, filled with lots of time outside to explore & with few planned & structured activities.

  146. Rebecca says...

    Amen! I feel see so many friends scheduling their kids in activities to fill the time this summer. Soccer! T-ball! Summer camps! And I’ve decided to say no to almost all of it. I feel I am a better mom when I’m not rushing to get to the next thing. We have the most fun at the creek or the neighborhood trail, just exploring. Thanks for the encouragement!