Tag: Carrie Contey

Back to school

According to the seasonal calendar we’ve still got over a month left of summer. According to the school calendar though, we’ve got just 6 days left here in Austin, TX. Oh my oh my time does fly too fast sometimes. In some ways our family is ready for the return. In other ways though we are hesitant to leave the late night swims and sometimes lazy days. Even on work days the schedule somehow felt less rushed, less urgent and less wrought with the endless to-dos that feel a part of school.

Time for us to regroup as a family. Time to set some intentions for the upcoming school year. Time to figure out just how we want this school year to look and feel. We’ve got this Sunday slated as a family day – a day for figuring out just how to make this very big transition. How do you do it in your house? If you’ve got a special ritual for heading back to school we’d love to know!

And it’s time too for our 3rd annual back to school clothes swap. Come join us. Bring what you can. Take what you need. We’ll have sewers, silk screeners and sorters too making nice mountains of all kinds of clothes for infants to adults. You can get the details here

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Responsive Listening

We interrupt your summer to bring you this important bit of information…

I’m doing a little summer reading over here. Some light stuff you know. This one in my hand is called Stop Arguing with Your Kids: how to win the battle of wills by making your child feel heard. It’s got some great information in it and it is especially pertinent in our household as we segue from school to summer. It’s stuff we might have known but need a bit of a reminder on. Big transitions call for refreshing the toolbox.

The section I’m currently working on is chapter 2: The Five Steps of Responsive Listening. In quick review, here they are:

  1. At the first sign of an argument, check the impulse to argue back with your child and concentrate instead on listening to the child’s feelings.
  2. Invite your child’s thoughts, feelings, and wishes – without defending or disagreeing (and to this I add, without judging)
  3. Repeat the child’s position in your own words to show what you think he or she is thinking and feeling.
  4. Ask the child to correct your impression or elaborate on his or her point of view.
  5. Take time out to consider your decision – on minor matters by puasing before responding with our decision, or for more difficult situations by saying that you’ll talk more about it later.

Okay, now back to your summer. I wish you all a little peace in your own summer days. With less yelling and more enjoyable being. Together.

esme at the park

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For your reading pleasure…

I am a co-founder of Slow Family Living but beyond that I am a writer. It was my writing actually that first inspired Carrie and I to collaborate. And from that collaboration came Slow Family. I often write about family life on my blog and cover such things as parenting four children, the funny points, the sweet points and the low points too.

Before the blog there were the essays. Also many about family life but about life in general: past, present and future. Sometimes they get sent off to magazines and get printed such as one coming up in the July issue of Mothering Magazine. Other times they get sent off and then sent back only to sit idle in my computer. Just recently I started compiling them, very slowly I might add, to this other site of mine called Writerisms. (I collect blogs for a hobby) There is one essay I just put up that I thought might be pertinent to Slow Family readers. It’s called From Where I Sit. And it’s about the experience of meeting each child where they are. And recognizing too the fleeting nature of it all.

photo by 500 pound leon

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Making it work

I was speaking with a mom this weekend about Slow Family Living. She was concerned because she didn’t think she could do it. “Do what?” was my question to her. “Slow things down in the way that you do,” she responded.

It’s not about doing it my way. Or a certain way. Or the way that some other family is doing it. Rather the whole idea of Slow Family is finding the way that works in your home, for your family.

The idea of slow is actually the idea that you and your family take a pause in all you do just long enough to ask yourselves, “Is this working for us?” From there you will find your solutions.

I wrote a piece this week in Rhythm of the Home about our Family Soccer league and how our experience with soccer was tweaked and retweaked until we had the perfect solution for our family. Not one big change overnight but a little by little variation until we had the perfect roth 125scenario for us. For the parents, for the kids and for our family as a whole.

Here are a few questions from our Slow Family Handbook to get you started on finding ways to build connection in your own family life…

  1. Think of a day, an hour, a moment even when you felt “ah, this is what family life is all about.” Describe it in detail…
  2. What were the elements or the pieces involved?
  3. What was the feeling?
  4. In what ways can you bring those elements into daily life?

If you want to do more, you can download the workbook and go through the entire process. In addition, read through a list of 100 ways you and your family can find ways to slow down, connect and truly enjoy family life a little bit more.

With so much of family life in transition, it seems like a really good time, to ask ourselves again, “Is this working for us?” From there we will find the answers. “For us,” being the operative term.

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Scheduling in Family Time

We schedule just about everything in our lives. We schedule work. And exercise. And social time. And doctor’s appointments. And sports. And parties. And volunteer time too. Look at most any family calendar and you will see all sorts of activities, events, appointments and obligations.

Often though we are hesitant to create this same intention for family life. Or we schedule it but then if something else comes up we bump family time to the side as if it will just happen on its own.

But it doesn’t always. It needs the same intention and attention that we give most every other aspect of our lives.

I usually remember this. Most often we try to keep one day each weekend just for time with each other. But sometimes we forget. And we get back on the bandwagon of thinking that family time will just happen without any thought at all.

And then a little reminder comes in some form or fashion. And I am grateful to put it on the calendar again.


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The end is near

The end of school that is. Just a little over three weeks according to a recent calendar check. This time of year always seems to take on a rapid fire pace with end of year performances and ceremonies and field trips and more. It’s somewhat difficult to maintain some semblance of calm in our schedules but we’re trying hard over here tag-teaming for various requirements and limiting others.

This week alone we’ve got two drama performances for two different kids and two days of field day for two different grade levels all requiring some sort of participation from one or some of us.

We had to remind each other tonight that it’s just a phase and that the end of this pace is near. So that’s the mantra for the next few weeks: “It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.” Reminding us of the great advice we received from my experienced sister when our oldest child was born over 12 years ago, “Remember, it’s all a phase. Revel in the good ones and know that the bad ones will pass.” While this time of year isn’t exactly a bad one, it is indeed a trying one!

The reminder of this serves us well. And we may need to remind each other quite often. And we know too that before we know the chaos will calm and we’ll be headed for more of this…Halloween 024

How do you handle this speeding up time of year  in your house?

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Slow Family Living on the TV


Our new friend Jim Swift of KXAN, the Austin NBC affiliate, created a beautiful news piece on Slow Family Living.  Click here to see the clip and read the story.

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Are you free this Saturday?

It’s spring here in Austin, TX and it has lingered much more luxuriously than I remember it doing in years past. The cool nights and mornings continue to surprise us all and the heat has barely set in even by late afternoon. This week marks the first of the 90 degree days and we all take a deep breath in anticipation of what’s to come.

lucy hanging

photo by Leon Alesi 500poundleon.com

This time of year time seems to pick up speed a little bit as school calendars fill with all that was missed during the school year such as class trips and fund raisers and tests and end of school year celebrations. Yes, end of school year, as we recently realized there are just over 4 weeks remaining. The past couple of weeks have felt a little hectic here in our house where ordinarily we keep a thoughtful eye on keeping things relatively slow.

This past weekend however we took a collective deep breath. And we planned nothing. And we even canceled existing plans in exchange for nothingness. There were slight protests from the resident 12 year old but even she recognized the need to pull back and hang out and just be. So that’s what we did.

We ate meals together and prepped them together too. We had time for pancakes. And pedicures. And head massages in the grass. We read out loud and to ourselves. We wrote long neglected thank you notes. Cut out paper flowers for a first grade project. Picked out a potted plant for teacher appreciation week. Took walks around the neighborhood and bike rides too. Picked loquats from a neighbors tree. Found some mulberries down the street. Played tennis in the alley. And hockey in the grass. Spent two hours in the thrift store all together just because. And came home to write stories on the old typewriter we found there.

By Sunday night we felt ready to dive into this coming week which one glance at the calendar shows is equally full of spring time activities, events and obligations. Because of its nature, and its weather, and the fact that this season precedes the dog days, this time of year can tend toward the nutty. And we have discovered that if we don’t find some way to find some space in the other end of that spectrum, we crumble.  And we all get overwhelmed. And cranky. And we end up taking it out on each other.

So before it gets filled up with other obligations, we have penciled in some family time again this coming weekend. Not the entire weekend, like we did this past week. But a chunk. So if anyone asks, “are you guys free…” No is the answer. We’ve already got something scheduled.

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We can spiral into the craziness in a panic at all we need to do.

Or we can pause. And actually look at what needs doing.

How much time will it truly take?
Do we have to do it all?

Next time you’re making your list of things to do…
Breathe. Pause. Ponder.
Eliminate. Relegate. Or delegate

And free yourself from the harried vagueness of “I’ve got too much to do!”

Could you do this for 5 minutes today?

Could you do this for 5 minutes today?

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Seth Godin has long been one of my favorites when it comes to all the social media tools we have at our disposal. Whether it be for work, family or just for pleasure, he offers lots of ideas for how to use all these tools in a way that works for you. As opposed to using them beyond your time, pleasure, comfort and usefulness.

000_0050Today he’s got a message about what we let in. It’s up to us. Just like all the decisions we make in our lives, the social stuff is up to us too. So how do you want your day to go? What do you want to let in? Sort of the same thing we say about family life, before you do anything, before you make any moves or decisions, ask yourself first, “Is this working for us?”

How do you handle the onslaught?

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