OF LITTLE KIN JOURNAL
In the midst of motherhood, of stomachs that never seem to get full, toys that never stay in their place for more than a minute and little voices constantly calling out for mummy, days might sometimes seem long. But as a parent, the years truly are so short, and in an attempt of not missing out of all the little moments of my daughters’ childhood, I decided to use a move to a new country as a stepping stone for a slower, more conscious way of living.
Four years ago we moved from our home in Copenhagen, Denmark to one of the busiest cities in the world. For most people, living in a big city is often associated with a fast-paced lifestyle. But finding a slower life in the metropole of New York City proved to be a great way of balancing out the endless possibilities the city has to offer with a present and conscious way of parenting and learning to listen to my own person.
Despite the name, slow living doesn’t mean not getting things done or not using your time sufficiently. To me, it’s the opposite. Embracing a slow lifestyle means being mindful about how you choose to spend your time, being present in the moment and prioritizing your to-do list so only the really important things will clutter your time schedule and your mind. If you feel curious and want to know more and might even want to try incorporating a bit of slow living into your own life, here’s a list of my 10 favourite ways of living a slower life in a big city.
1. Cook a slow meal together and enjoy it in a slow manner
Since the slow living movement extracts from the slow food movement, spending time on cooking a meal for your family and enjoying it together seems like a natural place to start. Avoid tv, phones, books or toys while eating.
2. Take in the city at your own pace
When walking around in a big metropole, it’s easy to start feeling the stress of the people surrounding you in your own body. You start walking faster and thinking faster. Try instead to let your child decide your pace. Take a walk in the city with no specific end-destination or timeframe to pay attention to, and accept that you don’t need to feel the stress of the people walking next to you.
3. Invest in a camera, a watch and a notebook
By bringing these things with you when you go out, you increase the possibility of not having to bring your phone. Because even if you tell yourself that you will only use your phone to take pictures or check the time, chances are, that as soon as it’s in your hand, you’ll also be checking your email and some kind of social media which again means saying goodbye to being present in the moment.
4. Go outside and observe nature with your child
Don’t be scared of the commute out of the city, but turn the travel itself into a part of the adventure. Let your children spend as much time as they want collecting leaves in the forest or digging holes in the sand at the beach. No-one is better at engaging in the moment than children, so let them guide you and try and allow yourself to be spellbound by watching how the water washes away any hole in the sand.
…which of course means doing the opposite of multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at the time and finish what you’ve started before moving on to the next task. If you feel an urge to switching to another task, take a short break and then pull yourself back.
6. Do nothing
Try to spend a few minutes every day on doing nothing. Don’t look at your phone, don’t clean up the dirty dishes in the sink. Just sit still and try and notice how your body feels and how time passes by.
7. Stay inside
As a parent, you often think that going outside and doing something with your child is always the best way of spending an afternoon. But sometimes it’s not. Try and ignore how much your city has to offer and spend the day inside, engaging in homely projects.
As a parent, your to-do list will always be full. Learn to make the conscious choice of doing less, focus on what’s really important and tell yourself that it’s okay to let go of the rest.
9. Look your child in the eyes
One of the ground stones of slow living is being present in the moment. Next time you engage in any kind of conversation with your child, stop whatever else you’re doing and look her in her eyes throughout the whole conversation.
Nothing lets you release stress at an escalating high pace as a few very deep calm and deep breaths of air. Also works wonders on an impatient parent who’s trying to avoid raising her voice.
With thanks to Kathrine X