After school used to be the worst part of my day. I feel like a monster admitting it but coming home after work was stressful. I’d rush out of work so my father-in-law could get home before the city traffic set it. My boys were almost always waiting at the door for us to walk in. It was a mixed blessing. My heart swelled that they were so excited I was home but my mind would cringe at the chaos. We’d barely step in the door and there would be getting requests for snacks, park outings, or a trip to the store. And on the night we had swimming lessons, I’d secretly take any reason just to skip it.
Since moving to the lake, our days have slowed down. Working from home has allowed me to stop work most days before they come home. And life is different in the country. The buzz of the city doesn’t pull us and without a neighbourhood park (or even neighbours) we do things on our own.
When we moved here I considered putting in a play structure since all my kids could play with were trees, leaves, the forest, and the lake. But then I thought, “My kids can play with trees, leaves, the forest, and the lake”. And they do-through all the seasons.
Slow parenting is about following your child’s lead. They direct both the play and the pace. Most days after school, I follow their lead and we meander down to the lake to explore. And if the weather is even slightly warm, boots or shoes and pants come off and they wade into the water to touch rocks, sticks, shells, or whatever catches their interest.
It’s not all magic. You’ll see in this video, my older one nudge the younger one. But there’s less bickering and more cooperation. And by the time we make our way up the path to our home to start dinner, I know that we’ve spent meaningful time together without an agenda.
I miss the city and so do my boys. In a flash, they’ll switch from talking about going home to Toronto to asking to play at the lake. I don’t know if we’ll be here forever but that’s not a decision I need to make yet. For now, I’ll soak up our slow days at the lake and hope these lessons in slow parenting follow us.
Have you tried slow parenting? How do you make time to follow your child’s lead?