We have a huge amount to learn from how children want to naturally live their lives. This idea of slowing right down goes hand in hand with what I’ve said in a previous post regarding unstructured play. It also goes against my very being and I have a long way until I feel comfortable with this! Prior to having children I was in a very hectic and busy nursing post, and then I returned to that after having our little lady. Then along came a beautiful set of twin boys, but that brought with it a whole new level of busy and hectic. Newborn twin babies are a continuous cycle of bottom changing and feeding, that doesn’t let up at night, and leaving the house requires a qualification in organisational skills! However, we managed as our family life grew very hectic and we went through the early life with multiples in a foggy haze. Now, as they are getting a little older and things are becoming more settled (they run in different directions slightly less frequently these days, but are still fast when they do!), and with the event of home education, we are able to look into what our children need more. Sometimes, slowing down isn’t possible due the nature of life (in our case multiples plus one), but there is lots of research pointing to the fact that this is what children need.
This morning’s dog walk took us through the country park, and as a person used to walking as fast as I can to get some exercise, I needed to bite my tongue to allow them to stop and pick up every tiny shiny piece of broken glass (not sharp don’t panic, all worn round the edges and very small), which could then be used “to make pretty things”. I hold in my head a list of everything that needs to be done, and I see the day disappearing in a path clearing exercise. I am getting much better at this, but as grown ups it does seem to go against how we want to be, and yet it is much better and healthier for us to slow right down.
If we slow down a little, children then feel that they have some control, rather than external factors which they cannot influence. If people feel that external factors control their lives more than they do, it can lead to depression and anxiety, due to a sense of helplessness. It is important to give children the space and the time to learn, grow, and develop. If they get too pressurised with moving on or to do better, they lose they initial enjoyment of what they were doing. So pushing them to go faster goes against their natural learning ways. Slowing down, together with giving them the feeling of more control over what happens, increases their self esteem and confidence. Enjoy the moment, instead of rushing and inducing stress. Of course we all have timings that have to be kept, but I try and keep these to a minimum per day….no more than one when possible, to ensure they aren’t overburdened with the time keeping of the grown up world. Removing 2 school runs has already made a huge impact. Funnily enough, on pre school mornings we still tend to leave the house around a similar time, but because no one is working towards a definite time, no one pushes to rush, and everyone is more cooperative and happy. If you try and move a child fast, they naturally resist, and everyone ends up stressed as they naturally resort to following their own rhythms. As adults we need to relearn this from our little people. Multitasking is normal in our busy lives, but is less effective and less efficient. Children are naturally being more efficient by doing one task at a time. This also helps us to be less distracted and live in the moment. Children experience the world they live in and have time to admire it. Turn off the electronic devices and focus on one thing at a time, and not push our electronic device addictions onto our children, who are great at just noticing ladybirds, clouds, trees, and taking in the world around them. Children need a calming space to “just be”. If they are not used to this it can take a while to adjust, but soon you will see them filling that time with creative and imaginative play.
Of course there are always things to be done and our household is no different. There is a dog to be walked, a huge amount of washing to be washed, meals to be cooked, and then the cleaning that comes with three pairs of muddy wellies and four paws going in and out all the time. I have grown up having a very busy school and after school life, which continued into adulthood, so I have a long way to go before I feel comfortable with the slower pace of life. If I have a moment of trying to cajole everyone to go a bit faster, it always backfires spectacularly and I regret doing it, and the children end up unhappy and grumpy, and me stressed and nagging. I try and schedule my “Mamma jobs” to coincide with an unstructured free play time for the children, therefore not projecting my frantic clearing up and cleaning onto them, allowing them space and time to play. We also spend a huge amount of time outside in nature, which is great as you can’t see what needs doing :-).