A couple of years ago I discovered two blogs that totally changed my way I live my life: Slow Your Home and Hands Free Mama. Both blogs have a slightly different take on the slow movement but essentially the same message…
Slow your life and live more simply = a life filled with more peace and love.
We’ve been conditioned by society and the media to think that the busier we are, the better our lives are. We’re encouraged to fill our diaries to the brim, juggle priorities, have a massive to-do list, achieve more and consume more. I think it’s driven by our fear of failure and our constant urge to be ‘good enough’. I’ve seen it being referrred to as ‘The Glorification of Busyness’ which I think is a brilliant way to describe modern day life.
The problem is when we’re trying to have it all and do it all, we have little time to rest, recharge our batteries, look after ourselves, be present with our loved ones and appreciate life. Being busy and putting too much on our plates leads to stress, exhaustion, dissatisfaction and burn out.
Before I had kids I was pretty good at living a slow(ish) life. I had a 9-5 job which I could leave behind when I walked out of the door, plenty of free time for doing whatever I pleased and lots of lazy Sundays. When I had my son then my daughter and it all changed! I had a to-do list as long as my arm, a diary packed with the likes of baby massage, toddler groups, playdates and playgyms. Plus the usual errands and chores to fit in between. I sometimes felt like my head was going to explode.
I said yes to everything I was invited to, feeling like I had to keep up with all the other mums while trying to make it look like I had my shit together (and feeling inferior because they had bigger houses therefore better lives than me… but that’s a whole other post!) I was mentally exhausted by it all and often ended up feeling stressed, rushing, shouting at the kids and feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
I kind of wish I knew then what I know now. I would have told myself to SLOW THE HECK DOWN! I would have slowed everything down, simplified our life, torn up my to-do list and spent more time being present with my babies.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day so wouldn’t you rather spend those hours feeling calm, peaceful and grateful for what you already have in life, than feeling rushed, like you have to do it all and like there aren’t enough hours in the day?
When we slow things down and do less, we:
Make more time for meaningful experiences
Are truly present to each part of our day and can enjoy each moment more
Create time to stop, rest and breathe
Realise what’s important and how we want to live
Communicate and interact with others in a more meaningful and authentic way
Feel more calm and peace in all aspects of our day
Feel more connected with our loved ones and share more experiences together
Give ourselves the opportunity to relish and enjoy each day
If slow living sounds like something you’d like to bring into your life, here are a few things you can do to live a slower, more meaningful life.
1 / Just say no
It’s ok to say no to things. Realise that every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. The more we say no to things, the more time we have to do the things that are really important and meaningful to us. It can be hard as a parent when our kids want to do all the after school activities, swimming or dance lessons, whatever it may be, but it’s important to limit these for their sake as well as ours. The most joyful moments for me are when I’m at home with my son and daughter, reading, doing craft activities, baking, playing outside… and their ‘happiness journals’ say thats what makes them happy too.
2 / Don’t compare yourself to others
One of my favourite quotes is ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Social media is hugely to blame for this. We’re constantly seeing perfectly styled photos of people’s seemingly perfect lives. It’s a natural reaction to compare ourselves and assume we’re lacking somewhere. Which then leads us to fill our lives with more and more activities (and possessions) constantly striving for a life as wonderful as Miss Perfect. The thing is nobody’s life is perfect. All those photos on Instagram might look amazing but we know nothing of what goes on behind the scenes. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and striving for so-called perfection, we open ourselves up to being more grateful for what we do have. We give ourselves more time to look for happiness in the little everyday moments.
3 / Avoid multi-tasking
Instead of doing many things at half-effort, concentrate on your most important tasks… one at a time. It’s been proven that multi-tasking actually makes us less productive and more stressed. Multi-tasking causes more mistakes and takes us more time. It might be a report you need to write for work, vaccuming the bedrooms or cooking a family meal, whatever it is be present and focus solely on that task without being distracted by emails, texts or looking on Pinterest! When we focus on one thing at a time, we give it our full attention and complete it faster… giving us more time for living that slower pace of life.
4 / Scrap the to-do list
To-do lists have long been considered a tool for helping us to keep track of important tasks and increasing productivity, but do they really serve this purpose? Some swear by them but they just leave me feeling overwhelmed and stressed. To-do lists make us focus on what we haven’t achieved, we tick things off then forget about them and continue stressing about the list of things still on there which gets longer by the hour. As a recovering control freak, scrapping my to-do list was a huge step but I can honestly say I don’t miss it at all. I really don’t need a list of every tiny little thing I need to do reminding me of what I haven’t achieved. Now I stay organised by putting the important thngs in my phone calendar and also my kitchen calendar. Do you know what? I sometimes forget things but so what!! It’s not the end of the world.!
5 / Disconnect
Hands up if you feel that you spend too much time on a screen of some sort. Yep me too! I’m not the greatest at disconnecting but I’m working on it and I’m slowly cutting down the time I spend on my phone. I used to spend far too much time of Facebook but realised it was affecting my relationships with my nearest and dearest. So I uninstalled the app and limited myself to checking in once a day. Now I hardly go on Facebook, usually only a couple of times a week. Disconnecting from screens is an essential part of slow living. Now I have more time to focus on the things that light me up, like spending quality time with my loved ones. I have time to rest and feel more calm and peace. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?!
Make the decision now to slow down, simplify life and make a little breathing space.
What are you going to do to live a slower life?