Archive for 'Slowing'

Keep a Soft Eye

I went to a beautiful wedding this weekend at which a married couple served as the officiants. As they spoke to the bride and groom the one spoke of the need to keep a “soft eye,” a term he had heard on The Wire about the need to see the big picture rather than just focusing on the evidence in front of you.

“You know what you need at a crime scene? Soft eyes.” Detective Bunk

He instructed the bride and groom that in a marriage, it was necessary to keep a soft eye in order to keep seeing the whole scene. He told them not to focus on the one infraction or misspoken word but rather keep a soft eye on the love they had for each other.

I searched the term “soft eye” today and learned that it is a martial arts term, also used often in horseback riding, and means to take in the periphery of the scene – to take in everything but be distracted by nothing.  According to the Urban Dictionary a soft eye is “The ability to see the whole thing. If you have hard eyes, you’re just staring at the tree and missing the forest.”

In family life I can think of nothing more essential than to keep a soft eye.

What are we doing here all together? What is the essence of our family forest? Not what is happening right this minute but what is the overarching desire/feeling/emotion? What’s in our big picture?

How can we remember the joy, love and connection when there are harsh tones being used or piles of endless work to do or a child who won’t go to bed or seemingly incessant whining or hunger or fatigue on everyone’s part?

Keep a soft eye. Stay focused on the big picture.

I’m going to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.



*Thank you Eric!


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Encouraging Thanks

It’s the time of year for thank-you notes! A habit I love to model and encourage in my children. And one that I know isn’t always that easy to do – especially when there are so many to say thanks to and so much to be thankful for! Sometimes those lists just feel overwhelming. To me and to the kids.

This year we have a new way of doing them. A way that not only says thanks but encourages family connection as well. Read about it on Future Craft Collective and then gather the family for a little collaborative gratitude session!

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What is slow parenting?

In an interview recently we were asked, “What is slow parenting?” Here’s how I see it…

Slow parenting means finding presence and connection in your family life. It’s about pausing on a regular basis and asking yourself, “Is this working for US?” It’s not about doing nothing. Rather it’s about checking in with your own self, your partner, your kids and the family as a whole, and determining whether this particular schedule, activity, arrangement, is working for the family. And it’s about asking that question continuously, “Is this working for us?” If the answer is yes, keep doing what you’re doing. If the answer is no, figure out a way to change it.

Slow Parenting is about understanding too that in order to process all that is seen, felt, learned and heard in a day, there needs to be that pause. Pausing now and again is a surefire way to integrate each day’s information into the whole being and into the whole family. Slow Family Living is about finding the presence and connection in your family life that works for now and helps build a sustainable connection that will last a lifetime.

October 2009 255

What do you think about that?

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Are you slow?

Last December I was on a walk in New Jersey with a few of my 8 siblings. We were all in town for a tribute at Manhattan College to my dad, post mortem, for his athletic excellence. It was a great gathering, all of us there from all points of the U.S. and beyond, sans kids and partners. And this winter walk through our childhood streets was a great part of it.

We passed a great SLOW CHILDREN sign. Not your modern day bubble head sign, this one was a relic from our own youth. Complete with knickers! My brother got a picture as a nod to Slow Family Living.

My friend Lauren photoshopped FAMILY over CHILDREN and voila, the Slow Family Living sticker is born! I love driving around with this emblem on my van, telling all the world, we’re taking it as slow as we can. Taking the time to connect and really enjoy family life in whatever ways we can. You can get one too if you want. To tell the world there’s a Slow Family in that car.

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Check out the interview I did with Jennifer Hill Robenalt for her Blog Talk Radio show Soul Lab. Jennifer is a writer, mother, publicist, blogger, spiritual seeker and all around fabulous woman. During our time together we explored the link between parenting and spirituality. Good stuff.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the mothers out there, we send a big way to go and a reminder too to take a few deep breaths along the way. However you choose to commemorate this day, with family or on your own, with big fete or quiet respite, at home or out on the town, we wish you a glorious day and a big reminder to slow down, connect with yourself and your family and enjoy your celebration.

And if you’re having trouble slowing down, here’s a few  of my favorite ways I can take pause throughout the day…

  1. Slowly drink a big glass of water (replenishing your body and giving you the necessary pause)
  2. Kick off your shoes and feel the floor underneath your feet (helps ground you)
  3. Sit up straight in a backed chair, put your feet flat on the floor and set the timer for five minutes of positive stillness. (As you sit still you’ll be amazed at how seldomly you are actually still.)
  4. Take a walk around the perimeter of your yard (don’t tell your family you’re going outside or they’ll follow you! By sneaking out you’ll be able to take the whole walk before they find you)
  5. And of course, don’t forget to breathe! Use some physical act throughout the day to serve as a reminder to take a few deep breaths. For example, everytime you wash your hands, take 3 deep cleansing breaths.

Those are some of my best tricks. And they have totally saved me from losing it completely.  Or at least have helped me come back from completely losing it! I hope you find some use in them too.

And if you want to find ways to slow your whole family life down, download our Slow Family Living Workbook and then join us for our Slow Family Workshop – either in person on Monday, May 11 7-9pm or via teleclass on Monday, May 18, 8-10pm Central Time.

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Amy Pertl-Clark, an Austin-based slow mama, alerted us to this New York Times article on slowing down kindergarten.

As an early parenting guide with a pretty clear understanding of brain development and nervous system regulation, I feel strongly that children, especially young children, especially kindergarteners, should NOT have homework. Why? Because they’ve been at school for many hours using their brains — learning things, trying new activities, navigating social interactions — and managing big feeling without mom or dad. That is a lot of work. In order for them to properly integrate what they have learned, tried and experienced they need a break. They need to have space and time to relax. They need to be…time to putter around the yard, play with their toys, look at books, cuddle with someone who loves them dearly, play with friends, do some art if they feel like it. Basically, time to do what they want to do. Or not do anything at all. When we allow children an intellectual pause at home all the neural connections that have been stimulated at school  link up and create new pathways in the brain. This is really good and important stuff that should not be underestimated or overriden by a bunch more learning.

Perhaps there needs to be a movement to abolish homework? Oh, look there already is one.

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There was an article in Sunday’s Newark Star Ledger about the move toward Slow Parenting and Slow Family Living. I am excited to get the nod from my beautiful motherland where I still have great attachment and many friends and family. You can read the article here…

The one thing that was missed in the story is the fact that Carrie and I are not two moms, as was stated. Rather we are one mom of four kids and one pre- and perinatal psychologist. I say this because I think this combination is really the heart of our collaboration. This blending of our experience and training offers the collective knowledge we hold of both the scientific and the practical sides of childhood development and family life. From our passion for all our work encompasses, came the formation of Slow Family Living.

When we sat down together to determine just what it was we were offering with Slow Family Living we came up with this…

We are offering a way of thinking about, seeing and implementing family life. We provide the science, the practicals and the lens for understanding, believing and appreciating the richness of building and maintaining lifelong family connections. We want people to see that family life can be the well where members can go to fill up and to have fun. We offer tools, support and inspiration that guide people in slowing down, connecting and enjoying life as individuals and within the family.

If this is your first time on our site, we hope you will browse around and see what we are offering and why. If you are interested in finding out more about your own Slow Family Living, please download our free Slow Family Living workbook or our Family Mission Statement workbook – both available by clicking the buttons in the sidebar.

If you need guidance or inspiration in working through the Slow Family Living workbook, please join us Monday night, April 20th from 8-10 pm central time via teleclass. We’d love to have you.

We are both extremely passionate about helping families truly find the goodness in family life. We strive to help families live an intentional family living that resonates with how they envision a connected family life to be. We could not imagine more heartfelt work. We are grateful you are here and we’d love to hear your thoughts on ways you have found to slow down, connect and enjoy your own family life.

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Slow TED Talk

We love TED talks. We especially love TED talks when they are about slow living. Check out our friend and inspiration Carl Honore, author of  In Praise of Slowness and Under Pressure: Rescuing our children from the cult of hyper parenting giving his TED talk.

Click here to view it.

Maybe one day we’ll give a TED talk…

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The way the morning flows can set the tone for the day. If things are hectic and everyone is racing around, there is less connection and less fun. However, when you choose to slow things down, connect and enjoy the time you have together before leaving for the day, everyone feels better and things go smoother. It’s not always easy but it certainly is worth giving it a try.

Here are some simple and practical tips for slowing down the morning:

  • Get up and get going. When you get out of bed just 15 minutes before everyone else it gives you a chance to set some intentions for how you want things to go.
  • Get yourself ready before the rest of the family rises.
  • Do something just for you even if it’s just for for 5 minutes. Drink a cup of tea/coffee, write in your  journal, meditate, stretch, etc. Take the time to check in and be with yourself.
  • Connect, connect, connect. Your child’s been asleep for many hours and needs some emotional filling up before he/she is ready to do the tasks of the morning. Taking just a minute or two to snuggle, shares some kisses or sing a song as you carry your child to the bathroom can make the “have to’s” go a lot smoother for everyone involved.
  • In efforts to help your little ones stay on track with doing what needs to get done, break things down into simple chunks and connect in between each thing. For example hug then brush teeth… hug then get dressed….hug then get shoes on…
  • Set things up the night before for a smooth and easy morning. Prepare breakfast and lunches for the next day, get bags packed and place them by the door, let your children sleep in the clothes they will wear the next day if dressing is too big of a battle in the morning. Make it easy so you are able to be more present with the people and less focused on the tasks.
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