Having a child changes you in so many ways. It has certainly prompted me to examine my life and see everything in a new light. Every day we’re making choices that impact her life and the world she’s growing up in. I feel a tremendous obligation to be informed and to make the best choices I can, for us.
“Minimalism” is a buzz word right now. People are pushing back against consumer culture and are opting for a simpler life. “Slow living” has also emerged as a movement—challenging society’s “norm” of living a busy, fast-paced, stressful life. In line with these two movements is sustainability: living our lives in a way that conserves resources and lessens our impact on the natural world.
After examining what I value and the dreams I have for Ellie and for our family, I’m making an conscious effort to live more slowly, simply, and sustainably. Many aspects of our lives already reflect these concepts, while others need some work. I’ll share my thoughts, experiences, and tips along the way, and I’d love to hear about yours as well!
Some days it seems to crawl at a snail’s pace, while others flies by in the blink of an eye. For me, living slowly is about taking time to be present in the moment, focusing on what brings me joy, and dedicating more time to what makes my heart full.
I’ve always gravitated towards a “slower” life. I’m an introvert and a “homebody.” I enjoy my quiet time at home—reading a book, crafting, playing board games, or cooking and enjoying a meal together. We’re also lucky to live in a rural area, removed from the hustle and bustle of city life, and surrounded by nature—a constant reminder to slow down and appreciate life.
Even though we live a fairly calm and “slow” life, I am a dreamer with a busy mind. I constantly find my mind wandering—reliving memories, making a mental to-do list, worrying, or planning for the future. If there’s anything we can learn from children, it is to be present in the moment. Countless times throughout the day, Ellie will reach her chubby, dimpled little hands up to my face. She loves to feel every part of it and just stare into my eyes. In these moments—as she’s pulling my cheeks, scratching my eyelid, or grabbing my nose—I am fully present. I’m not thinking of anything; I’m in that moment with her. I live for those little moments, and they remind me that whatever I had on my “to do” list really isn’t that important. We are her world, and the most important thing we can do is be fully present with her as she learns, develops, and explores her world.
Most of our homes are filled to the brim with it—hidden away in drawers, stuffed in overflowing closets. Even though we make an effort every few months to have a good “clear-out,” I know we still have too much stuff. I might need to re-watch some Tidying up with Marie Kondo for inspiration on this one.
One of my current reads is Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne. As I read, I find myself constantly nodding my head thinking: yes, this makes so much sense! His premise is that our busy, fast-paced and stressful lives, filled with “too much stuff, to many choices, and too little time,” are interfering with the space and freedom children need to explore the world and develop.
His ideas about simplifying our lives certainly extend beyond just simplifying and de-cluttering our spaces; He also discusses things like slow living, creating rhythm in our daily lives, and limiting exposure to media. I’ve only read about half of the book so far, but I’m loving it. When I’m finished, I’ll definitely be discussing it more in depth on here.
There’s so much overlap between living slowly, simply, and sustainably. Embracing slow and simple living steers us away from simply relying on what is fastest, cheapest, or most convenient, and urges us to reflect on the impact of our choices.
This is an area I definitely need to work on. There are so many things we already do well (cooking healthy meals, eliminating chemicals, using cloth bags, using natural products, etc.), but I am definitely still working on a mindset shift—Amazon Prime is just way too convenient for me.
I’m looking forward to diving deeper into these topics as we try to apply them to our lives.
I’d love to hear from you: what are some ideas and tips you have for living more slowly, simply, and sustainably? Are there particular areas you do well/struggle with?