Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stop Your Feet

When Esme was younger, I read an article about getting your kids to listen better, and one of the suggestions was to use  instructions that are simple and specific.  For instance, instead of telling your kid to slow down when they approached the end of the driveway, the experts suggested telling your child to "stop your feet," because after all, that was what you wanted your child to do.

Since then, I've found myself carrying that piece of advice with me and have used it with both Esme and Reid.  "Stop your feet," I say as Reid considers running out onto the road.  "Stop your feet," I tell him as he approaches a set of stairs.  And it almost always works.  

Recently, in a slightly different way, I've found that this is advice I need to follow myself.  One night, as I was putting Esme to bed, I kept thinking of all the things I could do for work if she went down easily.  In fact, I was thinking about work almost all of the time, eager to get things crossed off my proverbial list but then quickly adding more to it at the same time.  I finally realized that I had to slow down, shut off my brain, and "stop my feet."

It just so happened that I had a book at my shelf called Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy that I had yet to crack open.  So that night, after Esme feel asleep, I made myself a cup of tea and started to read.  As I did, it was as though I could feel the pace of my thinking slow down right with the rest of me.  It was exactly what I needed.

In the foreward, a friend of the author talks about how slowing down is a necessary part of human development.  When we learn new things, we need time to allow our brains to digest them.  When we experience something new, we need time to make sense of it.  We thrive, she writes, when we are taking in and then pausing to integrate.  She continues:
This is especially true for children who are constantly introduced to so many new things as they move through their world.  If we rush ourselves from event to activity, from lesson to obligation, and from there to homework, chores, and more, then there is no time for integration of it all. Slowing down is a crucial part of the assimilation of all the information and personal encounters we make in a day.  Both in the family and out. 
She then poses the question: "So what do human beings need to be healthy, whole and connected?"  She boils it down to three verbs: Slow Down. Connect. Enjoy.  On the last page of the forward she lists "Benefits of Living Slow."  As I read the list, I knew I wanted to keep reading.  I also knew that I wanted to make sure slow-living was never too far from our family's mode of operandi.  Doing so would be good for all of us.  And I was so grateful that I had listened to the still, small voice encouraging me to slow down, return to what was most important, and "stop my feet."

The Benefits of Slow
  1. When you slow down family life, you're able to stay more resourced.
  2. When you are more resourced, you are more present.
  3. When you are more present, you are more tuned in to your own needs and the needs of everyone in the family.
  4. When you are more tuned into the needs of each individual, everyone feels seen.
  5. When everyone feels seen, everyone feels safe.
  6. When everyone feels safe, there is more harmony.
  7. When there is more harmony, there is more love, more connection, more ease, more fun, and more joy.
  8. When there is more love, connection, ease, fun, and joy, there's more desire to be together as a family!  Now and forever.

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