I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last three years, but recently I noticed that we were hardly even home during the week. I was filling our days so full that there was little room left for rest, and my kids and I were both starting to feel the weight of it. We decided to focus on ways to intentionally pursue slow living in the day to day.
For the last few months, there have been very few days on our calendar without something written on it. Some of the things were necessary and unavoidable–doctors appointments, grocery trips, etc. Others were good and enjoyable–visiting the zoo, play dates with friends, volunteering at church, etc. And some of the things were unnecessary and due to my own lack of planning–last minute trips to the store, errands that interfered with sleep, etc. Regardless, I realized that I was not leaving enough room for margin and was choosing being busy over slowing down and intentionally investing in my home.
What Exactly Is Slow Living?
According to the blog Slow Living LDN by Beth Crane, “Slow living is a mindset whereby you curate a more meaningful and conscious lifestyle that’s in line with what you value most in life. It means doing everything at the right speed. Instead of striving to do things faster, the slow movement focuses on doing things better.”
So often, I rush through my days in an attempt to get as much done as possible. I fill our days to fill the time, but I think there is so much value in leaving room to work on doing things well instead of just doing them. We want to take time to teach our children valuable habits that they will carry with them for a lifetime. I desire to care for my home and garden. My family needs to leave room for time to read and pray and rest. I desire to have time in my schedule to spend with my husband so that we can prioritize our marriage. We want to be intentional with our time and eliminate hurry and live slower.
Why Does Slow Living Matter?
If I’m being 100% honest, I think being busy is a coping mechanism that I often fall back on when I am stressed. Sometimes it feels easier to rush from thing to thing instead of trying to fill ten hours of a day up at home with a three-year-old and six-month-old. But, I’m learning that there has to be a balance. My kids and I need unscheduled time at home to rest. To build good habits. To notice the little things that we are often too busy to notice.
I have been drawn to many slow living practices for years–sewing, slow fashion, reading, homesteading, gardening, cooking from scratch. These practices force me to carve out time to dedicate to learning them. They don’t happen overnight, but over weeks and months and even years of practicing them over and over. So, choosing to slow down and leaving room for margin will absolutely take practice. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. Here are a few slow living practices that I have already implemented and a few that I am planning on trying as a mom with young children:
Slow Living Practices I Currently Do
Here are four slow-living practices that have become habits within our home. Sometimes we get out of routine, but these habits are easy to fall back on when we need to reset.
1. Simplify Meal Prep
After Violet was born, the thought of trying to plan food for three people for seven days for 21 meals was incredibly overwhelming to me. Throw in the skyrocketing grocery prices and having to go dairy-free overnight, and I was about at my wits-end trying to figure out what to do.
We have figured out a system that works for us in this season that is saving us time, money, and stress! We have been trying different meal-delivery kits for the last several months. Meal delivery kits can be expense, but honestly so are groceries and eating out. We have been able to save by trying different kits–the initial savings are usually a minimum of 40% off per box, and if you cancel, they often send you discount codes to try it again.
We are spending an average of $40 for 4 delicious, healthy meals. This is way cheaper than we could eat out or even get groceries. We usually get 4 meals for 2 people which is enough to feed my husband, son, and me, but sometimes we get 4 meals for 4 people and use the leftovers for lunch if the discount is steep enough. Something that I love about these meals are that they are compact and ready to go. My husband usually cooks them once or twice a week which has helped us share the load of meal preparation.
Affordable Meal Delivery Kit Options We Love
Every Plate is the most affordable option we have found! The ingredients for all of the meals come in the box and aren’t separated out, but it is so much easier than grocery shopping and has so much less waste. The meals are absolutely delicious and quick and easy! Because I am dairy free, I pick meals that are dairy free or ones that are easy to substitute with other alternatives. Click HERE to get $105 off with Every Plate!
Home Chef has smaller portions, but the meals are absolutely delicious! Green Chef is on the pricier side, but the meals are gourmet, organic, and everything comes pre chopped which really reduces the time we spend cooking. There are so many meal-delivery kit services to try… we have a few others we hope to try soon, too!
For the other meals, I plan something simple like rice bowls, breakfast for dinner, or a roasted chicken that can be used for leftover taquitos, bone broth, or chicken veggie bowls. We won’t do meal-delivery kits forever, but for this season, they have been incredibly helpful and have saved us so much time and energy when planning and making meals!
Simplify Meal Planning with My Meal Planner Bundle!
I created a meal-planning bundle to simplify meal planning that you can get HERE. The bundle includes a weekly meal planner, daily meal planner, grocery list, and meal planning tips to save you both time and money. It also has a place to record what is left over in your fridge and pantry so that you can use that to plan your meals for the following week.
2. Reset the Night Before
Carson and I work on this together, and it makes a world of difference for us the next day! We are still figuring out ways to condense this practice and save time so that we aren’t spending two hours after bedtime cleaning, but it really does eliminate rush the next day when we have taken some time to reset the night before.
On an ideal evening, one of us will give the kids a bath while the other starts a quick pickup downstairs. I try to lay out my clothes and the kids’ clothes for the following day. If I am doing morning basket or tea time the following day, I also try to prep the materials we will need and use. Carson usually finishes the dishes and we run a load every evening. If we have somewhere to be the next morning, I prep the diaper bag and set it by the door. We switch over the laundry and start a new load. I try to fold laundry and unload the dishwasher with my son the next morning during our chores time.
If I skip this reset, I spend triple the amount of time the next morning rushing to find clothes which are often dirty because I forgot to start the laundry. I can’t find my keys, I’m not prepared for morning time… Like I said before, this prep doesn’t happen daily, but when it does–our mornings are so much less hurried!
3. Tea Time for Smoother Afternoons
I shared about our Tea Time routine in THIS POST, and honestly, we got out of routine for a few months. We had a lot of medical things come up in addition to my daughter teething and starting our garden for the spring, and I stopped putting in the effort for consistent tea time. We did it here and there, but our afternoons have felt off and inconsistent for a while, so we are re-implementing tea time!
Because we have had so much going on, I have simplified our plan a little as we ease back into our routine. We grab a stack of books, a snack, and a drink and read for a bit. I’m aiming for baking a treat once a week and doing quick snacks on the other days!
This is such a positive time for my kids and me. Both of my kids love books, and I really cherish this time spent reading to them.
4. Weekly Team Meetings
Several months ago, Carson and I started reading the book Take Back Your Family by Jefferson Bethke. We try to read a chapter each week together on a Sunday evening after the kids go to bed. This book has absolutely transformed our marriage and the way we communicate with each other. Not that our relationship was bad before, not at all. But this book has encouraged us to love each other with intention, to communicate clearly, and to be incredibly purposeful in the decisions we make for our family.
After reading a chapter, we talk together about what we have on our plate for the week ahead. Then, we work together as a team to divide up our to-do list. We still have a lot to get done, but planning ahead has helped us be efficient with our time. This leaves more room for slow living during the week.
Slow Living Practices I Want to Implement
Here are four slow living practices that I want to start implementing within my home. This will be an ongoing process and won’t happen overnight.
1. Before Saying Yes to Something New, Ask: “What am I Saying No To?”
I listened to a podcast by Jordan Lee Dooley, and one of the episodes was about being a people pleaser. In the episode, she interviewed speaker and author Karen Ehman. She talked about how when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. It is important to make sure you are okay with what you are saying no to.
I often struggle with saying no. I love being involved in a lot of things and I love volunteering as much as possible, but my capacity is lower with the stage of life that I am in. Before committing, I have started considering what I am giving up when I say yes to something else. This mindset shift has helped me not feel as guilty for saying no. It will be an ongoing process for me, but I don’t want to spread myself so thin that I am unable to be present with my family.
2. Limit Play Dates to Twice a Week
I really love getting to spend time with other moms, and because my son is not in preschool, we have been practicing socialization skills in smaller settings with friends. However, some weeks we have had a play date almost every day which has left little time for practicing skills and habits that I want to teach my kids.
Carson and I recently sat down one evening because I was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t know what to give up. He encouraged me to write down a list of everything on my plate. We really didn’t take very many things off, but we thought about how we could prioritize what I need and want to do.
I am a more present friend when I am rested and not burned out. My kids are more enjoyable to be around during play dates when they have room in their schedule to simply be at home with nothing on our agenda. Limiting playdates with friends is not saying no completely, but it is a way to still enjoy time with friends while also leaving room to reset at home.
3. Host Less But With More Intention
Carson and I often talk about what we value as a family. Every single time, we talk about hospitality. We both grew up in families that made hospitality a priority. Our families hosted and made people feel welcome and cared for, and we want to carry this tradition on with our own family.
I’m not sure how many times we have hosted since my daughter was born in August, but it has been a lot. We absolutely love having people over, but recently we haven’t had much margin for rest. Hosting often takes a lot of work with cooking and cleaning and preparing for guests. While it is something that we love and value, we don’t want to get burned out to the point where we don’t host anymore.
We have talked through some ways to host less often but with more intention. Some ideas include: hosting multiple families at once to make the most of the time. Simplifying hosting by getting pizza or doing a cookout instead of cooking a big meal with lots of sides. And finally, praying for the families that we invite into our home. How can we be intentional and purposeful in loving our neighbors and friends well when they are present in our space?
4. Prioritize Reading Good Books about Slow Living
Before my daughter was born, I was in habit of reading most mornings and evenings. I want to get back into the routine of reading books instead of scrolling on my phone. Some of the books on my to-read list center around topics that I have discussed in this post. They are:
The Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren
I actually started this book and told Carson about one of the chapters, and he was like, “That sounds so good! I want to read it.” We decided to save it so that we can read it together on Sunday evenings once we finish Take Back Your Family. Instead of reading it individually, we’ll read it together and discuss it as we go.
Here is the premise of the book, “In the overlooked moments and routines of our day, we can become aware of God’s presence in surprising ways. How do we embrace the sacred in the ordinary and the ordinary in the sacred?
Framed around one typical day, this book explores life through the lens of liturgy―small practices and habits that form us. In each chapter, Tish Harrison Warren considers a common daily experience―making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship.
Come and discover the holiness of your every day.” (Excerpt from Amazon)
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
My in-laws got me this book for Christmas and I actually had several friends recommend it. One of my friends mentioned that her and her husband take a day of rest every month to read and pray and reflect. My mentor in high school is actually teaching a class that references this book and discusses the importance of Sabbath and rest. Carson and I are hoping to prioritize the Sabbath within our home each week, and we think this book will give us some ideas for how to practically make some changes.
Laying Down the Rails Series by Sonya Shafer
I asked my parents for this series for Christmas, and I am excited to read these books that talk about habit training for both kids and myself. As we aim for slower days, I want to be purposeful with our time and use it well. Instead of focusing so heavily on teaching my preschooler his ABCs, I want to instill good habits in him from an early age. I also have several habits that I would like to improve in myself, and I love the practical guidance that these books offer. Get the bundle HERE.
In conclusion, slow living does not equate to laziness or even ease. It is purposeful and intentional and not a waste of time. You have to fight for a slow way of life. It is counter-cultural and often misunderstood, but I do believe it is worth the effort.
What are ways that you and your family live slowly in order to cultivate connection within your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments.
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