Tag: New York Times

The importance of play

I was talking to an 11 year old the other day who was greatly dismayed that at his new middle school there was no time during the day to run around and play. The only physical activity is one semester of P.E. and that’s not until spring. He had to wait until he got home before he could move his body at all. Even the 30 minutes of free time during the day that they were given, they were not allowed to go outside. He was bummed and his parents were worried that with no physical outlet during the day, his learning would be impeded.

Just after that conversation a friend sent me this article from the New York Times about the importance of play entitled: Let the Children Play (some more) by Stuart Brown. It’s not just about having a good time or about getting physical exercise, it’s about behavior and attention span and overall wellness.

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Being Present; Teaching Presence

Staying present is a constant battle of mine. My goal is presence with myself, with the people I’m with and with the task at hand. I used to take great pride in my ability to multi-task and now uni-tasking is the goal. It’s hard sometimes with 4 kids in tow all shouting, “look at me!!!” simultaneously. It’s hard when there are phones and laptops and errands and chores. But when I remember, all is calmer, kinder and gentler too.

Recently in the New York Times Motherlode blog, she asks, in regards to all the new texting devices designed for kids, “how young is too young? How much is too much?”

I think the age is for each family to decide on their own. But I do think that all kids will need to be given guidance and guidelines in regards to using all these devices being put in their lives. They will need to be taught presence. They will need to be taught to love the ones they’re with. They will need to be shown how to unplug and tune in to the people around them. And they will need to be shown too the benefits: mental, physical and emotional, of presence.

How do you do it in your house?

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Slow parenting isn’t really all that new. It followed the whole Slow Food movement when the term was coined a few years ago by Carl Honore in his book In Praise of Slow, in which he uses the term Slow Parenting to talk about bringing balance into the home.

In the past several weeks, there’s been a lot of press about the latest swing towards slow parenting. Lisa Belkin, New York Times Motherlode Blogger extraordinaire, whose blog I follow religously, wrote about it in an article called Let the Kid Be. The Today Show had a segment with our own Slow Family, Carrie Contey on set. There have been blog posts galore and slow parenting is just on the general radar for being up these days. It is touted as being necessary in the face of the recession but it is also a bit of a backlash against the idea of hyper-parenting, or helicopter parenting, that has become so widespread in our society these days.

I’m glad about this movement and this discussion being brought into the mainstream. I think it’s time for people, families specifically, to find ways to slow down. But the part that is being lost in this current discussion, is the idea that Slow Parenting and Slow Family is about the idea of finding balance and truly connecting with each other and finding the joy in family life. Slowness is not just about slowing down and doing less, but about connecting with the whole process of parenting and with family life as a whole and with each individual family member as well. And that premise: slow down, connect, enjoy is the very foundation for this whole Slow Family movement of ours.

In all the teachings and writings of Slow Family Living, we really believe, and want to help others see, that family life can be the well where members go to fill up, to find inspiration and to have fun. We strive to provide the science, the practicals and the lens for understanding, believing and appreciating the richness of building and maintaining lifelong family connections. It’s not just about slowing down. Although that is a major part of it. It’s also about connecting and really enjoying family life. Finding the fun in it all and savoring it as it comes. And I guess the slowing down, the pausing, the really looking, hearing and seeing each other is what allows that connection to form and be sustainable for the lifelong.

Our children are only children for a relatively short portion of the whole parenting experience. Soon they grow and turn into adults with whom we have adult relationships. So this idea of Slow Family and Slow Parenting, it’s not about doing less or more. It is however about pausing long enough to really and truly connect. For now and for all time. And I firmly believe, above all else, that the connection really is what most people want. With our families, with ourselves, and with all the people with whom we encounter in a day.

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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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Slow Parenting

Lisa Belkin has a parenting blog on the New York Times website. She did a post on Slow Parenting. Check it out!

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