Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Life in the Slow Lane

It seems that these days people are just so busy. Even on the radio today, a public service announcement was talking about how much people, even Christians, have to do.

  • Husbands have jobs (if they are fortunate enough to still have one), fix-its around the house, yard work, hobbies, family time, perhaps Bible study and/or church time, and maybe exercise.

  • Wives have the never-ending list of household responsibilities, perhaps work outside the home, perhaps homeschooling, hobbies, relationship building, child rearing, perhaps Bible study or church time.

  • Children have school, household chores, play time, and sports or other extracurriculars.

  • Even babies have a lot to do! Increasingly people are putting their children in such programs as the Little Gym or KinderMusic. MORE seems to be a status symbol in our lives in 2010.

Yet, I’m here to tell you that MORE is over-rated. I’ve done more. I’ve run and run. I’ve gone here and there with my kids and my husband. Yet, I didn’t find myself in some nirvana of happiness. Instead, I found myself stressed out, yelling at my kids, and scowling at my husband. Certainly not heaven on earth.

I began to do some research and found some voices, primarily Christian, calling others to slow down. They’d chosen the path of slow and purposeful and were calling to others to share in the Peace that comes with slowing down.

Instead of packing activity into every square inch of my day, I schedule time to slow down. In the next few weeks, I’ll share some strategies I’ve learned from my research. But for now, here are some immediate ways I started integrating s-l-o-w into my life.

* bath time – for my toddler, that is! Every day I put him in the bath before nap time. I know, I get strange reactions to this odd time. We simply can’t seem to fit this in at night. And BONUS, he gets to play in the water (which he loves), he gets clean (a necessity, I’m told), and I get to read a book for a half hour or 45 minutes (which I love). I would have felt lazy before if I just took that time to sit on the couch. Now, I bring a cup of coffee to the only throne I’ll have on this earth, sit on the lid, and enjoy a book while watching my youngest splash and laugh. Instant slow.

* creativity – I’m not very artistic. I can sew garments following a well-designed pattern, but that’s about the extent of my creativity. Or so I thought. Last year my dad introduced me to One Stroke Painting by Donna Dewberry. Wow! I’m an artist! I have a creative gene that was well hidden, but she helped me to unearth. So, now, during nap time or when the boys are painting, I get out my paints (in the great caddy Dad bought me for Christmas), and I paint for a half hour or so. At the end of that time I have a great (well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?) painting and I’ve exercised a part of my mind that is ill used many days.

* projects – We all have these. Those many projects that need to be done…that we enjoy…but don’t make time for. Mine include uploading pictures to the family website, uploading pictures to order for prints, putting pictures in albums and labeling them, working on scrapbooks, finishing the baby books, and various sewing projects. This can be done when the kids are at school or sleeping. Or, involve them. Give them some duplicates and let them cut out the pictures they like and glue them on a piece of paper to hang in their room. Or ask a child to sort them. Make it a team effort (if your kids can handle that!) and have one organize into two piles (one with them and one without them). Then have the older child further organize (take the children pile and divide further into who is in each picture). Take 30 minutes or an hour and just work. Don’t expect to finish. But you’ll be amazed at how good you feel by even working on it. Eventually, you’ll finish it! We’ll get to that process another day, though.

You see, slowing down can be fun and perhaps even accomplish something you never thought you'd have time for.

Q4U: What can YOU do this week to slow down for a half hour?