3 Ways To Practice Slow Parenting in a Fast-Paced World

parent and child holding hands

Struggling to find the joy in the journey of motherhood? Take a read of these excellent tips from an experienced mom of two, to make slow living a part of your home.

Slowing down is easier than it seems. When we set aside our busyness, we make room for a more relaxed, unhurried childhood.

Are you an overwhelmed mom? In our modern world, being busy is glorified.

Yet it leads to burnt-out mothers who feel pressured to have it all together while doing the impossible.

Motherhood isn’t a competition, and childhood isn’t a race. The saying, “The days are long, but the years are short,” can be frustrating when you are drowning in diapers, dishes, and sleep deprivation.

But it’s true. Childhood is short and the only thing our children are guaranteed to take with them into adulthood.

Slow parenting is a philosophy that has developed in the face of our fast-paced, technology-driven, highly scheduled lives. The principles of slow parenting encourage parents to slow down and be more present. Slow parenting is about creating a childhood where kids thrive, connections deepen, and memories are made.

The Slow Parenting Approach

Carl Honore’s 2008 book “Under Pressure” sparked discussion about the overscheduled lives of parents and kids. Although he didn’t coin the phrase, the idea of “slow parenting” was based on the principles he put forward.

“Slow in this context does not mean doing everything at a snail’s pace. It means doing everything at the right speed. That implies quality over quantity; real and meaningful human connections; being present and in the moment.”

Cal Honore, Under Pressure

Slow parenting is a more relaxed and mindful approach to parenting. It focuses on creating a nurturing, emotionally supportive environment that deepens connection.

The idea that slowing down and simplifying means being lazy and disengaged is entirely false. In fact, the opposite is true. The slow approach prioritizes quality time and meaningful connection, which take time and intention.

The Art of Going Slow

“To me, Slow Parenting is about bringing balance into the home. Children need to strive, struggle, and stretch themselves, but that does not mean childhood should be a race.”

Carl Honore

Slowness supports the nervous system. It gives children a sense of security and self-awareness.

It also holds space for boredom, a seriously underrated state. Letting kids get bored deepens their curiosity and allows them to be more creative, imaginative, and engaged.

Big ideas and important processing flourish when kids are left alone with their thoughts.

3 Ways to Slow Down With Your Kids

Slow parenting sounds great in theory, but sometimes the busyness of life can overwhelm our good intentions.

Three main principles of slow parenting are quality over quantity, unstructured play and mindful presence. You can easily incorporate these principles into your life with a few intentional changes to your routine.

Slowing down doesn’t have to happen all at once. Start with simple adjustments and watch as you learn to say yes to less.

1. Quality And Quantity

family having dinner together

How you spend time with your kids is just as important as how much time you spend with them. Meaningful interactions and connections have a significant impact on your relationship. 

Family Mealtime

Sitting around the table together is an easy way to ensure you have quality family time every day. When you turn off distractions and create a calm environment, you allow for open and meaningful conversations. It’s a time to connect, share experiences, and deal with issues. 

Having dinner together is a great opportunity to incorporate other family rituals that deepen your connection and create a positive family dynamic. For example, you can talk about the high and low points of your day or have a jar filled with fun questions that allow you to get to know each other better.

Outdoor Exploration

Whether hiking in the woods, a picnic in the park, or camping under the stars, shared outdoor experiences create lasting memories and strengthen relationships. Slow parenting encourages setting healthy boundaries for technology use, and being outside offers a refreshing break from the digital world.

But you don’t have to be super adventurous to add outdoor time to your week. A hike with small children would undoubtedly be slow but may be more aggravating than connection-building. You can opt for a backyard scavenger hunt or some old-fashioned unstructured play.

Tech-Free Time

There is no denying that technology has some benefits for busy parents, but unfortunately, it can also distract us from important things. Set aside time every day or every week to have tech-free family time.

You could have a family game night, play board games, do crafts, or read together.

You may find that screen-free time is harder for you, which is why you must model healthy boundaries for your kids.

2. Unstructured Play

child playing with wooden toys

It’s crazy that play must be classified as structured or unstructured.

Unstructured play (real play) is playtime free from adult direction or rigid rules. It’s the imaginary dinosaur world, fairy tea party, and epic fort building.

Unstructured play is spontaneous and allows kids to explore, create, and experiment at their own pace.

Set The Scene

Create spaces in your home that encourage unstructured play.

Have toys and materials neatly displayed and easily accessible.

Opt for open-ended options like blocks, art supplies, and dress-up clothes.

Make a mud kitchen outside where they can cook, bake, and create in a gloriously messy way.

Join In

Now, not every mom likes to play, and that’s ok. But when your child invites you into their world, they are communicating with you in a powerful way.

When you play with them, you show them that play is valuable. When you stop what you are doing to explore their world, you show them that they are important.

3. Mindful Presence

mother and child walking on beach

Being a mindful mom means being fully engaged and attentive in the present moment when interacting with your children. It means giving your kids your undivided attention, both physically and emotionally, during your time together.

Active Listening

Active listening is a powerful way to implement slow parenting in your life.

When you actively listen to your kids, you give them your full attention.

Make eye contact with them and be aware of your body language. Turn towards them, keep your arms uncrossed, and get down to their level.

Listening is the key point here. Don’t interrupt! When it’s your turn to talk, reflect on what they shared without judgement or solutions. Reflection is a great way to help your child grapple with big feelings and learn healthy emotional regulation.

Be Flexible With Your Time

It’s easy to constantly be rushing or get frustrated when your child wants to show you something while you are trying to cook dinner.

Constantly saying “no” or shooing them away creates a disconnect between you and your child.

But remember, the little things they are showing you know will be big things one day.

Don’t rush your interactions with your kids. Spontaneous conversations and playtime demonstrate your love and show your child they are valued.

Slow Parenting Is A Superpower

The ability to pause, ponder, listen, and engage is an underrated mothering superpower. We are our kid’s safe space; we shouldn’t take that for granted. Life is made of moments, and we have the ability to slow down, savor, and wonder as we soak up a childhood that will pass all too soon.

Caitlin van Wyk is a parenting writer, content editor at Bright Sprouts, and a mother of two wild boys. She is passionate about offering support and educational content for parents as they navigate the highs and lows of raising kids. 

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