What do you think of when you hear the phrase “slow living?”
Are you able to imagine yourself playing in the floor with your children, unconcerned with housework and errands?
Do you think of actually napping when the kids nap, or maybe enjoying a good book and some quiet time?
Going for long walks with the whole family on Saturdays, and sitting down for afternoon picnics on Sundays?
If you’re reading this post, then likely, the idea of slow living already appeals to you, but it might leave you wondering…
How am I supposed to get anything done?
It’s true that slow living, especially in a family home, embraces quality time over hustle and busyness, but that doesn’t mean your dishes have to pile up for days, or that you have to hire a housekeeper and live-in nanny to make it work!
Today, I want to dig into this idea of slow living…
What I believe it really is, what it looks like, and then delve into some practical tips on how to achieve that harmony between slow living and productivity.
Are you with me?
This post contains affiliate links, which may provide a small commission for me if you make a purchase after clicking on them.
What is Slow Living?
The modern crisis
Do you remember being a kid, and noticing how time started to feel like it was speeding up the older you got?
How, as a now-adult, suddenly years seem to have disappeared in a blink?
How quickly days seem to fly by when you’re rushing from place to place, obligations out both ears and one nostril, and have a to-do list a mile long?
Our time on earth is so so limited, and what is our hustle and busyness even for?
To maintain a spotless house 100% of the time?
To placate everyone in our social circles by keeping up with all of the playdates, meetings, organizations, and programs?
To answer every text, phone call, Facebook message, Instagram DM (and whatever else) as soon as our phones notify us?
We are being pulled apart by the demands of our modern world, despite the endless innovations that provide us ever-increasing convenience and speed.
And at what cost?
We are less fulfilled, satisfied, and happy than ever before.
We feel guilty for spending time with our children, and guilty when we don’t.
We neglect self-care, hobbies, and pleasurable pass-times for the things which are “more important.”
Our lives are rushing by faster and faster, causing us to grasp at anything and everything we think might bring us some measure of fulfillment, yet the more we do, the less fulfilling our lives seem.
Slowing it down
So what do we do about it?
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It’s true.
But how you choose (yes, choose) to spend those 24 hours will in large part determine how fulfilling your life is to you.
A slow living mindset recognizes and prioritizes those things which most fulfill us.
While the specific activities and values vary from person to person, they commonly relate to relationships, achievement, creating/creativity, and connection–whether that’s connecting to people, the world around you, ideas, or yourself.
There is no one definition of slow living.
In general, it is an intentional and ongoing decision to reject busyness and mindfully curate our lives to be simpler and more satisfying.
As is often said in slow living circles, a full calendar does not equate to a full life.
What slow living is not
Slow living is not, however, a rejection of productivity or accomplishment.
It is not a fluffy, modern movement to empower the lazy or unmotivated.
It does not glorify the uninspired or apathetic.
On the contrary.
Many people who embrace slow living accomplish a great deal throughout their days not because they are busy but because they are active.
A great example is Kaetlyn Anne, known on social media as @girlincalico. (Both her Instagram and YouTube are stunning; you should definitely check them out!)
Her idea of slow living, what she finds fulfilling, is to live a simple, old fashioned life of homesteading and “the work of her hands.”
Homesteading is a lot of work! This young woman is certainly not idle!
Yet her days are fulfilling because she is mindful of the way she spends her time, and she engages with the world in a way that is un-rushed and gratifying to her.
How to Embrace Slow Living and Still Get Things Done
So how do you remain active and productive without falling into the trap of busyness?
How do you slow down, simplify, and do less without becoming stressed by the responsibilities you can’t avoid (like a sink of dishes, and a family of hungry tummies)?
While I am far from perfect, here are a few ways I am able to mitigate stress and remember what’s most important to me.
Start and end the day slowly and intentionally
One of my top tips for you is to embrace the natural ebb and flow of the day.
Some parts will be more fast paced, and some will lend themselves more to leisure.
Be mindful as you go about your daily routines, and fight for those slower moments.
No matter what the rest of your day looks like, I’d encourage you to start and end your day slowly.
Don’t wait for your kids to wake you up before dragging yourself out of bed and jumping straight from zero to breakfast cooking, kitchen cleaning, and diaper changing.
Start your day on your terms.
In the same way, don’t let your to do list (or Netflix) drag you through from evening to bedtime.
Create habits and routines that allow you to end the day mindfully and, again, on your own terms.
Do things that promote restfulness and sleep (as in, not screens).
Wind down on purpose, rather than collapsing from exhaustion.
Rather than allowing your day to run you, make it a point to run your day (as much as possible).
At the start of your day (or the evening before, whichever works better for you), write out your plan for the day. What you need to do, where you need to go, what others need from you.
Don’t be afraid to pare down your list and take things back off which could be done later, or don’t actually have to be done at all.
To piggy back off of the previous tip, when you plan out your day, set your priorities from the start.
Stick with only a couple of must do tasks, and don’t add much to your list beyond that. Keep your day simple on purpose.
When you prioritize, you’re not only being intentional about what you ARE going to do, but also what you’re NOT going to do.
If you need help coming up with a system, check out these other posts I’ve written:
- How I Plan My Week as a Pregnant Mom with a Toddler
- How to Get Things Done with a Baby
- How to Get a Break When You’re Totally Burned Out
- How to Create a To-Do Inventory to Get Things Done
Set up habits and routines that take a lot of the thinking out of your day.
When you’ve got a natural rhythm and flow, you’ll be more efficient and require less motivation to get things done.
One example would be housekeeping routine. If you’ve got a regular cleaning schedule and you know what you’re doing when, it will be much easier to stay on track.
If you need more structure in your housekeeping routine, I did a full post on it, complete with a great printable you can customize for your own home.
Find all of that here: The Homemaker’s Guide to Housekeeping
Adopt vintage skills and habits
With all of our modern speed and convenience, we’ve lost a lot of the gratification that comes from working with our hands, creating, and accomplishing something.
Throughout history, before machines, computers, and apps that did everything for us, homemaking tasks took a lot more skill– not to mention elbow grease.
While I LOVE that I don’t have to wash clothes by hand, and that I can hop over to the store for anything I need any time of day, I find a lot of pleasure in bringing some of these “vintage” activities into my week.
For example, bread making! Making your own bread from scratch takes a lot of work, especially if you knead it by hand.
But you know what? I don’t derive any pride or pleasure from buying a loaf of bread at Walmart.
I do, however, take great pride, enjoyment, and satisfaction from the work I put into making my own bread– the gratification of smelling it bake, and of course, the indulgence of eating something so deliciously fresh and handmade.
You don’t have to like making bread… but find something you do enjoy! Something that allows you to work with your hands and provides you with a sense of accomplishment when you’ve finished.
On a similar note, embrace homemaking!
Keeping up your home doesn’t have to be a drudgery.
By simply changing your perspective, you can take pride and pleasure in all of the little repetitive tasks you do every day.
Rather than rushing to finish your chores so that you can “get on to the good stuff,” you can learn to take things slowly and find joy in the mundane.
Learn about other cultures and time periods
In general, our fast-paced Western culture doesn’t appreciate the value in a life lived slowly and modestly.
But, that’s not true of all cultures, nor all periods of history.
You can find a lot of inspiration in educating yourself about other cultures and time periods.
For instance, I was fascinated to learn about the French style of living through “Lessons from Madame Chic,” and “At Home with Madame Chic,” both written by Jennifer L. Scott on what she learned about French culture as an exchange student. (These books are a great place to start, by the way!)
Seeing how other people live will help you stay committed to a less contemporary lifestyle when everyone and everything around you trying to push you along at a different pace.
Engage your mind
One way to stay satisfied with the life you have (and thus embrace a slower version of it) is to keep your mind stimulated and engaged.
We are not made to be cleaning-cooking-diaper-changing robots.
We were created with brains to think!
It’s no wonder so many of us stay-at-home moms wind up feeling burned out and dissatisfied. Mopping floors and scrubbing toilets don’t do much in the way of mental stimulation!
Be intentional about keeping your brain active. Read books, listen to podcasts, stay up-to-date on current events. Make a point of learning new things.
(By the way, if you think you don’t have time to read, here’s a post I wrote showing you how even a busy mom can read 50+ books a year!)
Let the Littles help
A fantastic way to embrace slow living and get things done is to involve your children.
Even the youngest child can be involved in your daily to-dos, and they love it.
Let your one year old stand on a stool next to you and splash in the dishwater while you wash dishes.
Let your toddler “help” you sweep the floor, and show her how to put things back in their correct place.
Give your older toddler/preschooler+ simple, age appropriate tasks they can complete on their own.
Adults are not the only ones who benefit from the gratification of a job well done.
Yes, many of your tasks will take a lot longer with little helping hands in the mix. But the experience will be so much sweeter.
Here’s a candid of my little helper unloading the dishwasher:
Measure success by your home’s atmosphere, not your to-do list
At the end of the day, you’re not going to have finished everything.
Especially as you slow down and enjoy life more, you will have many days where there is more you would have liked to get done.
Don’t judge your success as a wife, mother, and homemaker by the number of items checked of your to-do list, or by how straight your home is, or by how many errands you got done.
Judge your success by your children’s laughter, your peace of mind, your home’s atmosphere.
Your house doesn’t have to look like a social media influencer’s. And realistically, it won’t.
Sometimes, you might go to bed with a messy kitchen. Other days, your bathrooms might not be company-ready.
But you know what?
YOUR KIDS DON’T CARE.
Yes, I absolutely believe it’s important for a child’s development to have an orderly and aesthetically appealing home.
But ultimately, what your kids (and your husband, fyi) care about is the atmosphere in your home and the attention you devote to them.
You’re not doing anyone any favors if your kids have a spotless home and a cranky, stressed-out mama.
They’d rather spend time with you than sit on a toilet that’s cleaned daily.
They would rather play with you on a dirty floor than by themselves on a floor that’s freshly mopped.
Teach your family that THEY are the most important thing in your life. Not your house, not your pride, not even your church food pantry. Your SPOUSE and your CHILDREN (and yourself) come first.
Choose a lifestyle that champions your values.
Put aside the things of the world that distract you. In the end, none of those other things will matter.
Now I want to hear from YOU!
Are you trying to embrace a slower style of living? What challenges get in your way?
Let’s discuss in the comments!