One of the things I notice a lot when I’m out with the kids is that so few children are allowed to explore their surroundings at their own pace. They’re put in cars or restrained in prams and get dragged around while their parents run errands.
I understand that there are things to do and places to be for adults. I know that children are slow. You leave them to walk and they’ll be in one spot looking at gum stuck to the floor forever. Sometimes I get ready to go catch the train a few blocks away and I end up standing at the front of my house while my son weaves vines and branches into and out of our front fence. This actually happened last week.
Kids like to take their time – all they’ve got is time – going forwards and then walking backwards – literally one step forward (if you’re lucky) and then two steps back.
That’s not a bad thing. There’s so much going on in this modern world, everyone’s busy, everyone’s stressed, everyone is literally going out of their minds and everyone is in a rush. Get in the way of people on the move and you’ll get tooted, eye-rolled or even sworn at.
Slow parenting may not be an option for many parents all the time just try it once. Make time to allow your child to go at their own pace without hurrying them along. Go into their world, living in the present, and let yourself be. Help your child in what they are doing. Fetch their buckets, pass them the shovel or give them some clean water to wash their cars after a muddy adventure. But let them do nothing until they want to do something else. Doing this in itself is much like therapy.
Watch how they take their time touching surfaces, scrunching leaves, poking at insects and noticing noises. There’s no ‘one way’ path that they’re on. They walk from the path to the nature strip, back to the path. They find and smell the tiniest flowers blossoming from the concrete. Notice how they run their little fingers along wire fences because it feels good. They pick up rocks and feel the texture in the palms of their tiny hands. They are enjoying life right now and all its beauty.
Can you remember that feeling? The more time you spend outside with your baby, they more you will feel like a child again. And by this I mean that you will (without a doubt) feel the layers of stress and anxiety, built up throughout your adult life, slowly drop more and more each time you do this. Whether it’s finding magic in a ladybug or that lucky feeling in a four-leaf clover, you begin to relive all of the wonders of your childhood.
Perhaps in ways that are even more expansive that you were allowed when you were little. And doing it now as an adult it’s even better because you get to watch the little loves of your life going through it for the first time and everything is new and exciting to them. Every feeling, thought, smell, taste, it is all new and exciting and scary and amazing to them.
One of the greatest lessons my children have taught me is that we follow these social and cultural rules and the best part is that, as parents, we can break rules. It may seem like you HAVE to do things but most are actually options. And at the end of the day, everything’s a choice until you die.
We choose to be busy or we choose to consciously parent slowly. That appointment can be rescheduled. The house chores can wait. There will be another train after this one…