I came upon this gem of a book a couple of years ago, Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy, by Bernadette Noll. It has 75 ideas how to slow down, spend more time together as a family and therefore do the important work of attaching to each other.
My two favorite ideas is how her family switched up their sports and her “do over.”
Bernadette Noll’s four children were all involved with soccer on three different teams. She and her husband, each, coached one of their children’s teams. Think of all time and effort. Really, think of it! The last straw was when their town’s soccer association moved to the next town over involving twenty minutes of driving each way. They were finding themselves overwhelmed by soccer- one practice a day for each child and then four games on Saturday. That’s four days a week! They decided, because they have internalized being a slow family as their central theme, that things had to change. They contacted another family who they loved but rarely got to see, whose children were the same ages. They arranged to play soccer on Friday afternoons all together. That’s it. The benefits were many–their children enjoyed playing with their siblings and friends, the children played against the adults, and they got to see dear friends more regularly. But best of all, they got off the intense sports schedule that was dominating their evenings and dinnertime.
Her next idea, of “do over” resonated strongly with me. Maybe you are feeling stressed and you snap at your child when they ask a triggering question, for example. Mine always seemed to happen when I was valiantly trying to get dinner on and they would sniff at what I was making. Bernadette Noll says she stops herself, asks her child if she can have a “do over”. The child says yes and then knows to reenact the scene. The child again comes in and asks, “What’s for dinner?” And then, she taught that you can go through the same conversation in a calm way, instead of in a reactive way. You get to reset and start again, immediately. I love what that teaches our children. We, as parents, aren’t perfect. We can recognize when we have blown it, and we can have a “do over” and have the same conversation, connecting together instead of cutting someone to the quick.
Attaching to our children takes thoughtful work and prioritizing. It means we are choosing what is essential and choosing wisely. Slow Family Living: 75 Simple Ways to Slow Down, Connect, and Create More Joy had so many good ideas on how to do that.