Have you ever heard of the Slow Food Movement? It is a grassroots movement that encourages local growing, farming, and the consumption of produce and meats derived from local growers and farmers. It visits a previous time when families enjoyed their own garden's abundance. When neighbors traded their fresh peppers for some fresh milk. When farmers and growers would gather their goods and sell them in their community at the farmer's market. It was a cleaner, simpler way of life.
My family has been considering the slow food and homesteading lifestyle. We recently moved to a rural area in Pennsylvania, where we enjoy a small, cottage type home and nearly 5 acres. We've moved away from the big house, the 2 workers-per-family lifestyle. We've given up a lot of material things for the simple life. And life has never been better. And as we start to get a feel for our land and for the slow food and homesteading lifestyles, we are more convinced that this is the direction we wish to take our family in.
Currently I am reading 10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza in which they describe the slow knitting lifestyle: knitters who obtain their fleeces, rovings, or homespun yarns locally or straight from the artisan or farmer. And many knitters relish artisnal and homespuns - going to local wool and sheep festivals, participating in farm tours, and buying up the super special hanks, batts, or rovings that only their local yarn shop carries (from a local artisan).
This got me thinking. My family is eager to live a cleaner lifestyle. We like the slow food movement. We are considering the homesteading lifestyle (if we can undercover a patch of yard that is both semi-sunny and NOT rocky) for growing our own family garden. (I don't foresee animal husbandry in our future, however.) What about a slow living movement? A long time ago, before radio, tv, internet, and video games, families would enjoy their day (after chores) outside. They would engage in all manners of activities outdoors: reading, conversing, creative pursuits, playing outdoor games. I have taken to engaging my children in slow living a couple of hrs a day. Just this afternoon, my DD sat quietly drawing, soaking up the sun, and ready to spring at passing butterflies with her butterfly net. DS sat quietly on the swing, knitting. I sat reading and enjoying this quiet and peaceful time with my children.
Without the constraints of an uber scheduled playdate, a video game telling them what to do and when, or a minute by minute schedule to follow to keep them "occupied," they instantly relaxed. They were able to enjoy their time. They weren't overly stimulated by the constant NOISE of electronics or moms trying to corral them into a specific activity. It was wonderful. Allowing them the opportunity to discover how they want to spend their time is empowering to them. My kids actually PLAY - use imagination & ingenuity to have fun. Sometimes they engage in quiet activities. Sometimes they are running about the yard pretending to be airplanes flying over various continents. It's fulfilling.
Does this mean we will chuck our electronics and swim lessons; ditch our tvs and trips to the movie theater? No. But what it does mean is that our children benefit from learning how to live a balanced life. They know how to survive in a state of over stimulation while at school and during their lessons. But they also know HOW to relax. They know how to have fun, imaginative play without prompting. They are also learning how to engage without someone prompting their every move. They know how to destress. This is important. None of us live a stress-free life. And so many adults buy books, go to seminars, or take classes to learn how to relax. They even engage in "Guided Relaxation" which I find, personally, to be an oxymoron. So I am attempting to equip my children with life skills. I'm attempting to equip them with a way of life that nourishes them body and soul. And I'm attempting, most importantly, to allow my children to find true joy in everyday life.