What would it be like to wake up rested and feel as though the hours before you were about to gradually unfold at the pace of wild honey?
Let’s back up.
What would it be like to wake up rested? What if we stopped right there? No matter who is reading this or what season of life you are in, I think this question alone could be worthy and productive place to start this conversation. We are all so tired, no? Alas, bear with me as I ask you a few more questions and dig deeper. …
What would it be like to feel sweet contentment wash over your bones while you stood in the kitchen during witching hour (essentially 3-5 PM) as the kids ran wildly around your legs, your mind hungry for bedtime?
What would it feel like to sit down and read a chapter of that book you bought months ago, to feel the pages between your fingers as you turn them?
What if instead of turning on the TV after supper and gathering around it, you lit an oil lamp or a burned a bunch of candles and talked with one another or played a game or danced?
What if instead of rushing to work and forgoing breakfast you were able to start the day by sharing a meal with those you love?
What if you ate meals at a table and never on the run or in the car or from a bag?
What if you fell asleep when you were tired and woke when you felt ready to embrace the beautiful, new morning waiting for you?
What would it be like to truly feel as though you were going through life unhurried rather than frantically trying to catch up, keep up, and then maintain that hamster-wheel pace our curated lives have tricked us into believing that everyone else so effortlessly achieves?
If you are anything like me, you’ve thought about some of these things from time to time and you’ve played the “what if” game. Perhaps you have entertained the notion that one day, one day, things will slow down and settle like sand at the bottom of a riverbank. Or maybe you’ve put the idea of slow living into a nice little box labeled “too trendy” or “unachievable” or possibly even, “something people who have their grownup sh*t figured out do.” Does this sound familiar? Do you see yourself in any of this?
It is no wonder that the slow-living lifestyle is a heaping pile of all that is trendy right now! We are being pulled in more directions than our bodies or minds can come close to gracefully handling, all the while trying to do it all by ourselves. Some of us wear our many hats proudly and then demand a gold metal to celebrate our exhaustion, yet we wouldn’t wish this kind of overwhelming and anxious kind of living on our children or even our dear friends, so why is it that we put ourselves through this kind of self-sabotaging torture? Is it that we want to be seen? Heard? Valued? Liked? Do we throw ourselves into distractions because it’s the only way we know how to cope with the deluge of noise we’ve allowed to seep into our short, precious lives? I don’t know. With each tap of the keys I find myself in a place of self-evaluation blended with the strong curiosity of how you feel about this too.
There have been times that I literally thought to myself, “What is wrong with me that I am I not able to keep up with them (i.e. stranger on the internet)? Why does everyone seem to be doing life so effortlessly? Who has all that time for all that engagement? Why does the noise overwhelm me when it appears to be easy for others to manage?” It’s usually in those moments I have to step way back and take stock of all that is sucking my energy dry only to come face to face with the endless torrent of lies I tell myself throughout the day. It is in those moments that I seek change and an opportunity to rest in things I know to be true. Things like family and simple rituals and little slices of life that simply make me smile.
I took a little break from social media a few months back because I was wanting a new captain to steer the course of my days. I needed to remember what it felt like to be truly present with myself and my family…to feel the uncomfortably of stillness without a multitude of ways to instantly plug in and share or scroll at my fingertips, and to re-ignite the things I authentically enjoyed investing time in. Sadly somewhere along the line I casted those pursuits to the side and named them nonessential. By stepping back and taking the narrow straw with which I was using to see the world, I was able to reclaim joy and figure out what exactly I needed to do in order to feel content and whole again. Living intentionally was the path I walked to find this wholeness, and what I learned is that intentional living can only happen if you hit the breaks long enough to make unhurrying a priority.
We live in a world everything we encounter is fast, cushioned, and immediate. We even seem to prefer it that way because as a society we have been conditioned to think that if we have to wait for something, it’s either wrong or not worth it. Some of us believe that using more things to speed things up will give in turn, give is more time in the long run. I believe that is more along the lines of wishful thinking and not what we actually know to be true. What I believe is true, is that our souls are mourning the loss of slowness and are craving something that marches to a much gentler, forgiving beat. We are hungry for meaning and depth and things that make us feel more like humans and less like machines working on deadlines. I don’t know about you, but seeing my phone light up around the clock and hearing it ding incessantly it not something I crave or even like. It is not something that fills up my cup. In fact, those types of things and all that noise often leaves me overwhelmed and drained, only feeling more behind with a longer to-do list.
Being on-call is exhausting, yes? Whether it’s a series of group texts, Instagram messages, emails, back to back play dates, TV ads, Facebook notifications, or any other sort of distraction that keeps poking you like a stick, will demand something from us, from all sides, unapologetically, 24/7 if we allow it. I don’t want to allow it. I don’t want a phone mapping the course of my day or telling me when I can or cannot speed up or slow down. I want to be in the driver’s seat and have the autonomy to design my life around values that make me feel alive, rather than values that are without boundaries and show little to no regard for my wellbeing.
My absolute favorite days as a stay at home mom are the days when we ease into our daily rhythm and have nothing planned but being together and whatever we want that to look like. This is not always possible, but I do savor the days that give us space and wiggle room to create things, to play and get dirty outside, and to get lost in things we feel called to get lost in. Some days we open the door and feel the cold air and decide it’s a good day to make soup! Other days we open the door and feel the rain drops falling on our palms and figure it’s a good day to stay in our pjs and watch a movie. Maybe it’s a homebody thing? Maybe it’s an introvert thing? I don’t know. I just love ‘s when we are able to take the time to do things without rush or worry. It gives us an opening to find meaning in simple, everyday moments. When you have time to do rituals that bring you joy and comfort it’s really special. This I do know.
We have been doing a naptime ritual with the kids ever since Stella was little and took her midday snooze. It went and still goes something like this: get them their cozies to make them comfortable, put lavender or chamomile oil on their feet or in their diffuser, read them a book or two, close the curtains and tuck them in. It’s a simple ritual we do, but the kids look forward to it every day and I love the bonding it gives our family. But honestly, on days that I have way too much crammed in it’s easy to overlook these kinds of things. In times of rush and overwhelm, it seems much easier to just pop them in their beds and hope for the best so you can bounce off to whatever other multitasking I have planned. It never feels good to go about my day in this way. When I cram things in and do not honor little rituals like this, naptime is usually much shorter as the kids feed off my weary energy.
When we give ourselves a slow day at home our kids are more patient with one another and themselves and we have the least amount of meltdowns. You might think that because we have more unstructured time together that there would be more room for things to get out of hand but I’ve found the opposite to be true. When we offer ourselves permission to take simpler measures and to savor everyday moments, whether we are outdoors collecting things or making a mess at the craft table, we’re able to feel most whole, and therefore, most like ourselves. It restores us and brings us closer to one another without it feeling forced. It gives me the opportunity to sit and just be with my kids, to talk with them, to feel their joys, to see frustration in their eyes, to feel their warmth and to really know them as their mom. It’s the most beautiful thing.
You may be saying to yourself, I get it Amanda. I feel you, girl. But how do I do this? What realistic things can I implement at home to practice life at an unhurried pace? Let me give you a place to start, a soft place to land, if you will. And by no means do I have slow living figured out, but what I do have is determination to show up and try to get somewhere near there. I want to strive and always be striving to do better. I want that feeling I’ve had so many times before, where I feel rested and well, and not even rested in the sense that I get enough sleep, but rested in contentment with wholesome goodness spilling over.
I am going to write a blog for each of the three practices below because this post is quite lengthy already and I have far more to say. With that, here is an overview of the three areas that I have narrowed down to help me live more slowly at home.
- Establishing Healthy Boundaries – Do not over commit. Learn the value of boundaries. Know that saying “no” is healthy. Figure out a daily rhythm that works best for your personality and for your family’s dynamic.
- Defining Your Priorities – Figure out what it is that you cannot live without. Define what is it that you (not society) deem essential in this season of your life. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
- Practicing Mindfulness – Make a list of distractions can you eliminate or scale back from. From daily habits that can you to be more present. Have things you in your home to help you cultivate more intentional living. Design a life that puts you in the driver’s seat and less on demand.
Now I am going to turn the table on you, dear reader. Do you currently crave an unhurried life free of the pulls and distractions I’ve talked about here? Do you feel content? Do you know what content looks like for you? What things do you currently do, or perhaps have done in the past, to slow down and savor life at a slower pace? I encourage you to share here, or even get out a journal and answer some of these questions on your own at your leisure. Go ahead and follow Plato’s instructions. Examine your life. Do so unapologetically and see where it takes you.
Emily Christine - Yes to all of the above, Amanda! Along these lines, I’ve been collecting a few books that deal with the topic of rest (particularly in the Sabbath context), and I plan to dig into them to better understand and apply that much-neglected practice. I believe it’s essential to who we are, not just an afterthought.
Social media really does encourage uniformity in many ways, doesn’t it? With all our differences it’s silly to think our lives will mirror those of others, but it’s tough to fight comparison if we haven’t established our own values and priorities. I look forward to hearing what has helped you live intentionally!
Eirryn - What a beautiful post. I feel like I came across your blog at just the right time in my life. You always seem to be able to so eloquently say and explain exactly what you feel and it’s exactly what I’m feeling too. Thank you for sharing your world and thoughts xx
Steph - Love this. We are in the middle of a 5 day weekend from school and it has been so nice slowing down and staying home. I find that I really need at home time to recharge and just savor my time with the kids in a more quiet way.
The husband asked what I wanted to go do and my response was “NoTHiNg!” So here we are at home and the kids are busting out toys that have been “forgotten” and we even started making some salt dough ornaments for the upcoming Christmas season.
Adrianna - I am so grateful for this post. All of your blog posts actually. I have been feeling these same things. What I decided to do and it sounds so dumb and easy is to just hide my phone from myself. Leave it upstairs when I’m downstairs with my kids. It sucks too much time out of my day and then I’m left to rush the things that matter. Instagram posts aren’t going anywhere. I can catch up when the kids are asleep. Things like that. I’ve also tried to bring God into my life everyday. I lived in Philadelphia for four years and observed Amish people living simply and I just fell in love. Anyway I’m rambling now. I’m just so grateful for your insight on life. You’ve helped me a lot in trying to figure out this whole motherhood/life thing. So thank you. Xoxo
Jessie - Tears! Every word from your heart spilled out here is every word heavy on mine these days. Every single bit. I have so much I have been thinking and feeling about all of this in this season and more and more with each passing day that I don’t even know where to begin in a short comment here, other than oh how lovely it would be to sit and sip a cup of coffee and have a heart to heart about all of this with you. Our hearts are dancing to the same slow beat, dear friend. What a comfort that is.
That quote by Plato is a favorite. So simple, strikingly beautiful and empowering.
Have the loveliest of days with your people. xx
Rachel - Beautiful post. I’ve been trying to bring more rest and mindfulness to my daily life this year, and have finally found a much better rhythm. “Living intentionally” is really great advice.
Ashley - This was such a lovely post! I felt so relaxed and cozy reading it 🙂 We strive to live slowly too; it just feels so much better for your soul, but it is hard to do sometimes when the outside world is moving so fast.
I think that’s one of the things I like about being a SAHM – my days are quiet, I’m removed from the outside world (mostly because I’m not involved in many activities or have very many friends 🙁 ), and I can go at my own pace. I also feel like if we lived in a home then I might be able to achieve this a little better: living in a place where I can settle and am happy with. But I suppose it is always a continuous process and I will just have to keep working on it as we grow our family and grow throughout our lives 🙂 xx
Christine - The perfect post! I’m currently writing a column about slowing down and finding a similar viewpoint to what yours here is gaining traction. Which makes sense. We’ve been so busy being busy the past few years, it’s time for the pendulum to swing. As a fellow introvert, I adore my home time. I’m hoping that by making time for it — and showing that it’s fun — my children will understand their own need for quiet. I can already see how it heals them. Being content at home, using what you have, enjoying your space — these are wonderful attributes to pass along.
Julie - On a whim I recently deleted my social media apps off my phone. It’s been wonderful being relinquished from the distraction. Disconnection leads to greater connection. I’m so happy for the slowness it’s brought to my home life. Thanks for another thoughtful post!
Francesca - What a beautiful, beautiful post. “We live in a world everything we encounter is fast, cushioned, and immediate. We even seem to prefer it that way because as a society we have been conditioned to think that God forbid if we have to wait for something, it’s either wrong or not worth it. ” This especially resonated with me. Slow living for me means trying to re-learn the value of patience, which society seems to have forgotten, and trying to remember that the good things in life are the ones that take the longest time and the greatest effort to get.
Morag - I love your kindness to your self and others on this approach to life, that understanding that at times social media can be so wonderful as well as draining. I am lucky to live on a small island 1.5 miles long and so can bring my children up in an environment where we are not constantly bombarded with noise and information. 5 years of hard work and the pay of is amazing as I am sure you will know, there is a calmness and concentration so readily accessible. but at times a wider connection is needed but in choosing when to access that rather than a pull is completely different. like you I could write an essay on this wonderful way of living that I have discovered and can only hope that more people have the opportunity to experience it x
Amanda - As a full-time working mom, I have to admit, I am jealous of those days you mentioned where you can do whatever you want all day, even stay in your pjs if you want! I do feel very hurried a lot of the time and I try to slow down on the weekends and truly enjoy being at home with my daughter doing whatever we want. It’s my absolute favorite times of my entire week and I am so thankful for it.
One thing I’ve been praying about this year is being content with my situation and needing to work right now. Some days I’m ok and other days I am sad but I’m continuing to pray and seek out contentness.
Hayley - This resonates so deeply with me at this time in my life. I crave a slower pace and simple routines with my family. It seems like we’re constantly trying to realign ourselves to get back into a rhythm, but we lack the discipline to stay there. We are so blessed to live close to family, but I think we struggle most with setting boundaries in that area.
I think I’ll take some time this week to journal about this. Thanks for the inspiration! Always, always look forward to your posts.
Nicole - I am right there with you Amanda. I am in this constant struggle of not feeling like I can keep up with the world of social media, and trying to figure out how to slow down this world that is always spinning so quickly. Or not so much slow down, because I know that won’t happen, but more like how to keep up in a simple manner. How to simplify life so that things feel more manageable. I love this though, and I love your heart. The slow and simple life is one to strive for, and it is imperative. Children especially are rushed from one place to another all the time, and it does effect them. They need space. They need time to play. They need to just be able to be still.
Nicole | http://www.bynicolegeorge.com
jill palumbo - I was a mom of three littles before social media, so I don’t think that media is the root of our evil. I think there are “seasons” in our life, some with this coziness and quiet that we crave and other times are hectic and full of chaos and schedules, and yes, lots of fun and memories. Before mine went to school, we could stay home and read books and play and watch movies. Then they got into school, sports, scouts and lessons (all I feel are very important to a well rounded childhood) and our life was on the run. Now they are grown and I got to do the same things with my grandchildren (calm, then hectic as they got older). I think the busy seasons of our life makes us appreciate the calm, cozy seasons. Now I am approaching my own calm season with retirement and I can hardly wait!
admin - Jill, I know exactly what you mean, we are craving the calm here too. And while I definitely don’t think social media is the problem, I do think it is addictive and can get in the way of being present with our kids. I like social media but for me personally I have had to establish healthier boundaries for myself so I do not end up missing what is right in front of my face. I think it boils down to being intentional and not letting distractions, whatever they may be, drive the course of our days. I know not everyone has this problem though! Distractions can come in all forms, and SM just happens to be one. Enjoy this season, dear! x Amanda
christina - hi amanda! would you consider putting together a blog of book recommendations…?
living a life of peace – A Mother's Window - […] the weekend I read a post by Amanda Watters on her lovely blog Homesong in which she discussed the joys of a slow life, […]
Peachy - Yes to all of this! Please update us on the t.v.’less level of your home!! Need inspiration to do the same 🙂
Melissa Peterson - I love this post and I’m looking forward to the three you listed to write. I feel like everyone acts like it’s inevitable to be hurry-crazy-busy, and that because my children are still young (the oldest is 6) I am able to keep that busyness at bay. But I think –NO! I am going to guard our unhurried lives forever. Just as some people make time to blowdry their hair every day, I will make time to stay home, have our little traditions, and not be dictated by technology. (…I hope…)
Catarina - THIS is what I want my life to look like. Looking forward to the follow up posts x
Nadia - I genuinely enjoyed this article ,as I feel very often like this .Thank you for sharing your thoughts ,it made me feel much better.I imagine my life at a lower pace ,in my house in the heart of the mountain (one day),simple and more healthy than my stressful life at the moment.
Take care and Merry Christmas!