Slowing down is always the first thing I look at with any new family.
So many of us operate in such a state of go, go, go, with the pressure of getting from one event to the next, fitting it all into the waking hours of the day, many of us are left feeling tired, spent and exhausted.
Unfortunately the result of this pressure and general ‘busyness’ means we are putting added stress on our systems, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion, where we then experience a disconnect with ourselves and with the people around us.
You may be able to resonate with this feeling, and start thinking about who the people closest to you that would be feeling the impacts directly? Perhaps a partner, your children, your close friends, your colleagues?
Parents will often tell me that they want to slow down, but they could not even imagine where or how to begin.
Here are some tips I share with parents to help slow things down.
All you need is an open heart and a big desire.
Time to walk
Whether you take the dog, your partner or the kids, there is no simpler way to enjoy some down time and connect with yourself or your loved ones.
It may be as simple as a walk around the block. Walk together holding hands, (if this is appropriate) and be in the moment. If you see something that you or your child wants to take a closer look at, then stop and take it in, (for young children this can often be bugs and beetles seen along the way). Talk about it and enjoy being in the moment.
High point- Low point
I know this is a great tradition that is performed at many family dinner tables around the world, but if you haven’t already tried it I urge you to give it a go.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to eat dinner together, then take turns around the table for each member to discuss his or hers best part of the day and their lowest point. This gives a great opportunity to connect with your kids and often brings about some great discussions.
Reviewing the calendar
This is important for every busy family. Parents have separate schedules and depending on your children they may have various extra curricula activities that occur during the week.
Try to get together with your partner weekly (or as regular as you can) and sit down the old fashioned way and look at your diaries.
Try to plan for the week ahead, including what events are a priority (remember that it is ok to say no- when there is too much going on), who’s needed to attend or drop off, and organise in advance any additional support (extended family, babysitter).
A lot of families I work with have children who require additional processing times than others, so a focus on transitioning from one event or activity to the next is crucial. However try this out with your family and watch the benefits of a slower pace when it comes to transitions.
This does require some extra planning and allowing extra time when going somewhere or moving onto the next thing.
It may even be helpful to give some verbal prompts leading up to a transition.
If the words ‘I do it’ from a young child send you into a frustrated state, you know you haven’t allowed enough time from moving from one thing to the next.
When we have allowed for more time during transitions then we are more relaxed when our child wants to stop and examine that tiny trail of ants crawling along the path.
We all need a break. Many don’t have the luxury to get out of the house and take a drive or a long walk, with children, partners needing and relying on us.
Taking a little mental escape from it all can make all the difference between switching from wallowing in crankiness to finding some joy in the process.
Find some strategies that work for you, but it may be as simple as stepping outside, closing your eyes, facing the sun and taking in some beautiful fresh air, or finding a quiet and empty room to sit in a yoga pose or a stretch and focus on your breath.
A few minutes can go a long way, whether you’ve been at home all day with the kids or just returning from a big day out.