Book Review: Slow Family Living
Rarely do I find a book where I feel like the author and I could be related… but this is one of those books. Slow Family Living by Bernadette Noll felt like it had been written by my long lost wise big sister. I ate up every word in this book and really really really need to buy myself a copy. In the book, Bernadette offers 75 easy ways to slow down and enjoy family life more; to bring you closer together as a family, and to reduce stress, arguments, and fighting.
Every idea is WONDERFUL!! And I whole-heartedly recommend that you go out and read this book from cover to cover as well as check out her website here.
I wanted to share with you my top ten favorite suggestions from the book to slow down and enjoy life more.
This idea is all about putting space between you and a major decision or area of anxiety. Are you struggling with a work project? Take a break. Come back to it later. Is your family considering moving but don’t know the what/where/and how?…. pause. Wait. And let yourself digest the conflict before you come to any final decision. A lot of times when we give ourselves the opportunity to release all the weight of that burden, the answer becomes apparent.
2) 4 Deep Breaths
I love this one. It’s all about starting your day with 4 full deep breaths. How great is that!?! So often our alarm goes off and we hit the ground running. Workout, coffee, wake the kids, breakfast, shower, email, more more more. But when you begin each day with deep breathing, it centers you, brings your attention inward and gives your body the chance to wake up in a slow and positive way instead of running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
3) Connect the Dots
After you have started your day with deep breathing, it’s a great idea to check in with yourself; see where you head and heart are and prepare for your day. Bernadette calls this connecting the dots. She has a few simple questions to bring awareness to how you are feeling, your goals, and your intentions.
* List seven things you are grateful for right now
* How are you feeling right this minute?
* What are your intentions for today? (not your to-dos but your general approach)
* What did you learn yesterday? (new insights)
* What are your wishes, wants, and desires for the immediate or distant future?
* What are your to-dos?
These 6 questions can be used as a preparation for the day. They could also be done before bed as a way to settle your mind before sleep. By doing a daily “check-in” with yourself you can discover new goals, patterns, and attitudes when it comes to where you are and where you want to be.
4) High Point Low Point
This is such a great idea to do with kids, but would also be great to do with a spouse. The idea is at the end of the day (say around the dinner table or before bed?) to recall the best and worst part of your day. To recognize that which you can be grateful for and that which you can learn from.
As much as I hate admitting it… I can be pretty snippy sometimes. And sarcastic. And over-opinionated. I try not to nag or pester or snap, but sometimes life gets the better of me. Enter the “do-over”. This is such a simple solution for those times when you’re hungry and tired and snap at your spouse or kids for no apparent reason. Simply state, “Do Over!” and try your response again. No one is perfect and no one can be on their best behavior all the time, so it’s nice to have an action plan for all those times when your mouth goes before your brain. This is great for kids too. If you ask them a question and they answer with a whine or attitude, simply state, “do over” and they have another chance to respond. Works great for kids and adults alike!
6) Family Journal
A family journal is a way to keep record of all the great and amazing things your family does, says, and celebrates throughout the year. It can be as detailed or simple as you would like. You can use a three ring binder, a heavy duty sketchbook, or a scrapbook to add photos, quotes, doodles, ticket stubs, and more. Think of it like a year book for the family. Anyone in the family can add to it, or you could set a day each month to work on it together. It’s a way to reminisce over 1sts, adventures, silly times, and great accomplishments. Every family is unique and this is a great way to record just what is so special about your family!
7) Cook Together
Dinner can be a crazy time in any household. Everyone is hungry. The kids are cranky. Your husband or wife, or YOU just got home from work. And you are trying to figure out what they heck you can make without running to the grocery store. As hectic as this time is, it can also be an amazing bonding moment for the entire family. Depending on your familial situation (how many kids, ages, etc), you can choose to have everyone in the kitchen together or work out a schedule of one on one time. Planning, prepping, and cooking meals together is an amazing way to build relations. Nothing is more personal than eating! Work as a family to build a weekly meal plan and give everyone tasks to accomplish these meals. Maybe one child can help you cook while the other sets the table; then switch the next day. I’ve also heard that kids who cook a meal are more likely to eat it. Definitely worth a try.
8) 1/2 Full Weekend
When I read this idea, I immediately resonated with it. Usually my weekends are completely packed with chores, events, social calls, errands, and anything else I can’t get done during my busy week. They drain me to no end so that by Monday I’m wiped. The idea is to schedule only 1/2 of the weekend and leave the other 1/2 up to chance. Plan to get all of your chores, errands, and social endeavors accomplished in 1 day. Then the next day can be used to sleep in, watch a movie, play a game, go to the park, on a bike ride, etc. That doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere, but just that it’s unscheduled. That way the whole family has 1 day each week to spend as “family day”, all together, and with no rushing around or specific agenda. Sounds absolutely blissful to me!
9) Screen Free
Nowadays we are surrounded by screens. Phones, laptops, tablets, and on and on the list goes. Everything vying for our attention and distracting us from our current surroundings. This idea sets a limit on screen time for the family. It gives a chance for the entire family to connect without distraction. Each family is different and unique in it’s use of technology so each “limit” will look different. For some it could be the hour before bed. For others from dinner on. And yet for others it could be an hour or to in the morning to wake up and connect at the beginning of each day. It all depends on your schedule and situation. You could also set a day each week (or month) to go completely screen free. I know it’s hard (trust me, I KNOW!) but it’s so important to give your loved ones undivided attention each and every day. It builds stronger bonds and stronger families.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a big time reader. Always have been, always will be. I love and read all types of books and want to share that with my future children. Which brings me to this fabulous idea. Drop Everything And Read. It’s as simple as it sounds. When everyone is home, but just a bit too antsy heading towards chaos- call for a D.E.A.R. time. Everyone stops what they are doing and reads. Now depending on the ages and attitudes of you children this could be a group or individual activity. Everyone can grab a book and for as little as 10 or as long as you please, read. You could all lounge in the living room or grab a blanket and head outside to soak up the sun. You could even each grab your own little nook around the house. Whatever you please, as long as you’re reading. It’s a great way to make reading fun for kids, and to sneak in a little extra quiet time for yourself. Love it!!!
This book is chock full of amazing ways to slow your family down and bring them closer together. It’s a fast and fun read, and all of the ideas are simply laid out and easy to implement. If you have kids, or like me, are planning to start your family soon, grab this book. I promise it will change the way you see family life.
Love and joy,