The cedar and pine trees formed canopies over our RV that was tucked away in the very back of the campground; the sounds of bird chatter and a distant stream rushing through the brush animated the woods in Western Massachusetts.
Our slow living daily routine
Most mornings I drove Kirk to work in my pajamas–as we only had our giant white Tundra truck to share between us–and once we returned to the RV, started our day. The kids and I would make pancakes or oatmeal or eggs, a cup of coffee for me, and enjoy the cool quiet of early autumn in the Berkshires.
As soon as plates were empty and bellies full, my three kids pulled on their rain boots, flung open the door, and ran into the wild. We were the last campsite in the campground, backing up to Mt. Greylock, and delicious freedom awaited a trio of adventurous, tree-climbing kids.
After hours of free play, then lunch, the youngest took a nap while the older two homeschooled. It was cozy in the camper then; the sounds of the toddler breathing deep in his bottom bunk, the older two sounding out words and completing math problems.
This was the essence of slow living, and it was our beautiful reality for a precious season. Now that we’ve returned to stationary life it has become more difficult to live slowly. There are playdates to be had, dance lessons to take, and somehow more responsibilities and commitments.
The allure of the travel life was that it isolated us from normal life and allowed us to have this bubble life in which our family connection was priority. We spent all of our time together because we didn’t know anyone in the places we traveled to (with a few exceptions, of course). The kids didn’t take lessons, join homeschool co-ops, or have playdates. Kirk took a sabbatical from his music (which was hard on him, but necessary while we traveled), and although I worked in this space, I also cut back on work.
There is nothing wrong with having commitments, interests, and friendships; that’s why we didn’t continue our travel lifestyle because we missed community.
Now that we’re settled in Oklahoma, there is so much to do! I’m finding that in order for us to guard our precious time, we have to live first by our values.
Your values create your lifestyle. If you want to live slow as a family, prioritize it.
One of the tools I’ve found helpful to maintaining a slow family lifestyle is by scheduling out our days. This is a mental adjustment for me as I enjoy having daily rhythms and not daily schedules. A rhythm is where you have a general pattern, but the day is not over-scheduled.
Our daily travel rhythm was:
- drop Kirk off at work
- free play
- dinner prep
- pick up Kirk
- family walk/outdoor play
- bedtime routine
My favorite tool for family time management
Now that we’re stationary, I’m finding it necessary to schedule out our days. I use Google Calendar to sync with Kirk, and we color code our activities, responsibilities, and commitments. That means I know when Kirk has music shows, the kids have lessons, and even what time of day we’ll homeschool. Yes, it loses a bit of the slow living magic, but also means I schedule in blocks of time for family menuha (the important balance between rest and work). You might compare this to a weekly Sabbath, as some families practice.
Saying no to new responsibilities
I’m also learning the necessity of saying no to added responsibilities. I love helping others, especially other women who are growing and need support. Recently I helped someone with some business stuff, and the responsibility carried on far longer than it should have. It also interrupted my time with my family, and I certainly learned first-hand from the experience to protect my precious time.
Your family may have different needs or be in a different season than mine. It can certainly be simpler to practice slow living when your children are small, and it’s easier to control their activities and schedule. As children mature, it becomes important to set boundaries around time. Always returning to your values and why you desire this lifestyle will help you make difficult decisions about your time as they arise.
Our lives are a series of intentional decisions that can transform our future. You hold the keys to your family’s lifestyle and how your days will go. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the life you’re creating and where you might need to cut back to really achieve a slow living lifestyle.