Slowness sounds like an idyllic concept, especially in a world that’s always on, on, on, and go, go, go. We’d love to be less busy, less tired, and less overworked. And we also know a lot of parents read the term “slowness” and think, “yeah, right”. But slowness can be achieved! It just has to be pursued and romanced.
If ever there were a time for a shift toward slowing down, life with a newborn is it. It’s a season that all but requires a half-tempo pace. Babies only eat so fast. Lingering snuggles pump the brakes on “productivity.” And impossibly tiny fingers, lips and toes beg to be savored. Despite coming with more laundry, less sleep and more responsibility, the early days with our babies give us the chance to cherish what life looks like when we’re not rushing through it.
We make the time for slow moments, we allow our minds to wander. Do you feel your chest rising and falling with each breath? Do you purse your lips as a thought passes quietly through your mind? When you look in the mirror, what do you notice? When you step outside, what do you want to see?
“Most people’s minds are almost always too busy for them to feel their skins being caressed by the wind or the sun.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Carl Honore, who wrote In Praise of Slowness, explained it this way: “[Slowness] is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.”
Slowness in motherhood rejects the belief that faster is better. Efficiency has its place, but far too often efficiency and busyness hinder our ability to embrace the present. Let us cherish the slowness, become enamored with it. Often as parents, we are in a rush for the next season and the next phase. We can’t wait to be done breastfeeding or have our baby out of diapers. But these moments with our children can never be relived, no matter how quickly we speed through them. Instead, we can appreciate each day for what it is. In slowness, we have the opportunity to evaluate what is important, make conscious decisions instead of convenient ones, and actually experience and enjoy the moment we find ourselves in.
“The more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.”
― Henry David Thoreau
In embracing slowness we are learning to pay attention and asking ourselves critical questions about what it means to build a life with longevity. Slowing down will undoubtedly play a role in this with a reminder to prioritize pace over performance, expression over ego. However, one of the biggest things to keep in mind is that slowness transcends any one action or lifestyle—it is a conversation. It ignites curiosity. It creates space for question marks to emerge in places that periods used to occupy. Slowing down is a story with no ending.
We’re taught to look at life in chapters, but slowness shows us that, in reality, life is one long, run-on sentence. The trick is knowing when to read between the lines. Should you find yourself stuck on the page or unsure of where to turn next, you’re not alone. Whatever you’re pursuing might even take a lifetime (and is perhaps a wonderful way to spend it!). When the sense of spaciousness replaces the old restlessness, you’ll likely find that it suits you. So, slow down, and savor the moment.
What are the three most important things in your life? Now, consider how you’ve spent the last 24 hours. Does your schedule represent your true priorities? If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? When everything feels like it’s too much, it usually means that there is too much. Recalibrate. Make a list of your values, and compare them to what is currently occupying your time. If your overwhelm is rooted in other people’s expectations, write about how your values might differ from theirs. Is there a compromise? Do you need to set a few more boundaries?