I’m a working mum with two girls, aged seven and three. I hate structure and routine. I really hate it! My husband’s the same. We both love spontaneity and when it’s not there we quickly feel trapped, like we have become passive passengers on life’s journey towards inevitable death. (Yes, we can be a bit dramatic sometimes!)
The paradox we’ve noticed is that to create opportunities for spontaneity we have to schedule it in to our lives. Juggling our work commitments, the kids’ childcare, activities, playdates and birthday parties means that by the time we’ve also done some washing, supermarket shopping and kept everyone fed, there’s nothing leftover for unplanned, unscheduled fun and adventure. So, we’ve structured in time for this stuff.
Friday night is family date night. We head out for a family dinner date, or have something to eat at home, and head out to listen and dance to live music at the local cafe. We’ve also kept the weekends free from kids’ structured activities so that we can run on our own timetable for at least a day or two during the week!
Slow parenting was something I came across recently and it gave me a label for something we’ve been trying to do all along. I’m no expert, but here are my top five tips for taking a leaf from the tortoise’s book.
- Notice the little things: When life is busy, which is most of the time, notice a detail that you can enjoy. It might be a funny thing your kid has said while you’re rushing to get out of the door in the morning. Let the laugh out and enjoy it!
- Carve out family time: What’s your equivalent of ‘Family Date Night’? When you’re really busy it’s easy to crowd out the things you love the most. Carve out time for you and your kids to spend together and protect it.
- Role model: Over the last month I’ve been learning to meditate. I’m pretty rubbish at it, but getting better. One of the best things to come from it has been teaching my eldest daughter some of the techniques to help her get to sleep when she’s restless after a busy day.
- Choose childcare carefully: When picking childcare for your kids remember to ask them about the amount of structure they insist upon. Having a good balance of structure and free-time for your kids to get creative is really important for their development.
- Pick just one or two kids’ activities: Try to limit your child’s activities to one or two per week. We want our children to explore their own strengths and interests. Helping them do that while also giving them (and ourselves) enough down-time is a fine balance.
When you’re looking for those childcare and kids activities that fit the balance you’re looking for, start your search with us. We’ve got over 200 providers profiled on our website. We’re run by parents for parents on a mission to make life just that little bit easier!