Tag: slow down connect enjoy

Upping the Joy Ante

I asked my two older kids yesterday if they had to apply percentages to my parenting joyfulness vs. my crankiness, what would it be. One said 75/25 and the other said 60/40. I wasn’t too dismayed by the 75/25 but 60/40??!! Seriously? That means almost half the time I seem cranky? That is just completely unacceptable. Later on my husband gave me a much higher score but still, if the kids view me as someone who’s cranky that much, something’s totally got to give.

So I made a goal of 90/10. That seemed doable and seemed more realistic that going for 100%. Even my daughter admitted that she didn’t really want a mom who was 100% joyful. Too much pressure to perform I guess. She also said sometimes she likes to get my goat and it wouldn’t be as fun if she knew I was always just gonna be on the joy bus. (she admitted it!!)

Shortly after this conversation I went to the grocery store with my son and we had a total joy fest. Seriously, we had so much fun. And I truly believe the fun factor was bumped simply because I made a choice to go for the joy. It felt that easy.

As we made our way through the store I let some things go that I might have corrected or fixed or minded before. I laughed at things that I might have felt the need to object to before – like when he said he was going to ride his skateboard down the empty aisle, I just smiled and thought to myself, go ahead. It won’t impact anyone and if it does, they’ll tell him. Instead of me being the one who objected or corrected I simply raised one eyebrow and smiled. He then laughed too and said he really had no intention of doing it, he was just joking. Then we played “what if…”. What if he really did it. What if we all did it. What if people were just going nuts riding up and down the aisles and swinging around the corners. Later on we took photos in the parking lot. I pulled him on his skateboard as we returned the cart to the cart lot. We played. We laughed. We still got everything done that needed to get done. Only it was way more fun. We even got a few smiles from passersby who were enjoying our playfulness. And it all took way less time than it would have otherwise.

There was a Lamborghini in the parking lot!

We went through the whole store like that and weirdly felt like we were on vacation. And I realized that’s what a decision for joy feels like. Like vacation. When I let certain things go that I might not let go of otherwise. When I move through tasks easily and fluidly because, well, we’re on vacation and the thing we’re doing right then is the only thing that matters.

And I realized too, that’s the feeling that joy brings. That what we’re doing at that very moment is really the only thing that matters. And doing it joyfully makes it easier, more fun, more connected and more satisfying.

I’m changing my goal to 95/5. That seems realistic for most days. And fun too. And I’m going to rate my own percentages at the end of each day. Who knows, I might even make up little rating cards for my family. RATE MOM’S JOY PERCENTAGE. But mostly it’ll be about a feeling. And when I feel it, I’ll know it for sure.



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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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The Answer Lies Within

Last night before my teen daughter went to bed, she and I were discussing a dilemna she was having in regards to something she had signed up for. It was taking a lot of mental space and causing her a bit of worry. We talked about the issue, what was good, what was hard and what was the greater good.

As she was ready to turn off the lights and hit the pillow I told her that she didn’t need to do anything at this moment in time except to ponder the issue, “Just sit in the feeling and the answer will come. The answer lies within and will come when you let yourself step away from the spiraling and pause in the feeling.”

I realized this was kind of the crux of it all and definitely the big idea behind Slow Family Living.

When we worry about everything from the small to the big –

– what to do, where to go, how to sign up, how much to sign up for, how to find connection, who to meet, where to live, etc. the answers lie within us. We just need pause long enough to figure out what direction to take, what decision to make.

And that is the idea behind slow. The slow is the pause. And the pause will bring you closer to what you want/need/love.

The answer lies within and will come when we give it the time and space to do so.

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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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There’s a link that’s been going around about doing nothing for 2 minutes. Have you seen it? It’s a simple concept and really needs no further explanation. The only thing it needs, sometimes, is a little prodding and a little convincing. It’s amazing how good it can feel to allow yourself to pause. And how it can be just the thing to bring you completely back to center.

And it’s got all the components necessary for living your slow family life…

It’s the slowing down. It’s the connection to self and to center. And it’s finding the joy that the pause and the connection can bring.

So go ahead take a 2 minute break. Either on the site with the pleasant wave sounds emanating from your computer speakers. Or just try it on your own sitting in the kitchen with the stove timer set.  For simplicity’s sake, you can even bump it up a notch by setting your timer to 2:22. Do nothing for 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

Why not try it everyday? Set your alarm on your phone for 2:22 and set your timer for 2:22. Right before the kids get home from school!

Now, that’s the shift!

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Slow down. Connect. Enjoy.

It’s sometimes hard to remember that our children are our people. They are the ones we are tending to now as small children, and the ones too we’ll want to spend time with later, as adults. And, though it’s hard to remember sometimes, in the thick of early parenting, our relationships with them as adults will be for a whole lot longer than our relationships with them as children.

This realization is one of the very founding reasons we created Slow Family Living. Our goal is not to tell people how to parent, but rather to offer ideas, tips, tools  and inspiration for finding ways to build that sustainable connection with your children; with your people.

While Slow Family Living is about offering lots of ideas, it is not about offering more dogma. It is not about supplying one way of doing things.

It is about slowing down long enough to find ways to build connection.  And it is about encouraging families, parents, children to see that family life can be enjoyed, not merely endured. Here is a very simple list from our Slow Family Living workbook of what we think Slow Family Living is…

  • Continuously asking “Is this working for us?”
  • Finding ways to live the life you love
  • Knowing you have choices
  • Consciously making decisions
  • Doing things because it feels right for your family
  • Taking into consideration each member of the family and their stage of development
  • Making the family unit your priority
  • Sometimes taking a stand against the status quo
  • Possibly doing it differently than the way it was done for you
  • Trusting that what you have to offer your family is enough
  • Seeing, hearing, appreciating each other as individuals while seeing the family as an entity
  • Believing that there is no right way, just the way that feels right for your family

Sometimes it’s about checking out. Other times it’s about joining in. And it’s always about slowing down, connecting, and finding ways to enjoy family life, now and for the life long haul.

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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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The end is near

The end of school that is. And with the end of school comes a crazy amount of activities. At a time when I think most parents are realizing all the things they need to get done, the amount of time and energy that is required of them on the school front reaches a fever pitch. Awards ceremonies, class plays and concerts, teacher appreciation events, class trips, and more are added to the calendar in a somewhat scattered arrangement. For anyone trying to scurry to get things done before the kids are home, or at least before everyone is on a new, random, summery schedule, it seems there could be less demand on parents.

I must remind myself to slow down and try to achieve some presence which can come so sparingly when we are rushing from event to event. Scheduling less doesn’t seem too possible right now so I try to at least add spaciousness to the getting to and fro. It at least helps take away some of the panic that can ensue when I am rushing from thing to thing.

And I have on my schedule this week to set some intentions for the coming months ahead. If I don’t do it now, the panic will definitely prevail!

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Getting ready for summer

Future Craft Collective has posted the first of its summer long series for Craftzine’s Virtual Summer Camp. This one is all about getting intentional and finding inspiration within the family. Sound like a familiar Slow Family theme? Here’s a teaser below. From there you can go to Craftzine and get the rest of the project…

It’s that time of year, folks, when the classroom parties hit a fever pitch, the volunteer coordinator at school has you on speed dial, and we, as parents, start to spiral into a little bit of a panic about the season that is ending and the season that is about to begin. Don’t get us wrong, we love summer with its opportunities for sleeping in and its carefree nature. It’s just the transition that can be a little tricky. This is our kick-off project for summer “campless” camp and we are totally excited for a summer full of projects. With this project, it is our greatest intention to help ease you and your kids into the transition, while simultaneously helping you get intentional about the open-ended summer months ahead. Read more…

Intentions and Inspirations Banner

Intentions and Inspirations Banner

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People ask us that all the time.

Our tag line explains it somewhat. Slow down. Connect. Enjoy.

But what does that mean even? Here’s the break down as we see it.

Slow down. Be present. Schedule spaciousness. Pause in your activities and your breathing and your body and your mind. Check in with yourself. Take time to look around. Recognize the value of the being versus the always doing.

Connect. Ask yourself first, “What am I needing, wanting?” By becoming present with yourself you are then more able to be fully with those around you. See, acknowledge and allow the feelings and needs and moods and wishes and wants and hopes of those around you. Make time together.

Enjoy. Simple. Make it fun. Fill it with play. Appreciate each other and the joy will follow. Do the things you love and if you have to do them, find pleasure in the things you don’t. Ask yourself on a regular basis, “Is this working?”

When we are spacious and present and connected and appreciative and loving and playful we can live the slow family life we truly want to live.

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