Continuing with September's slow theme, I have decided to look at my home and the ways in which I can bring a slower pace to where we live and spend a huge amount of our time. Whilst researching slow living I read Seeking Slow by Melanie Barnes, a lovely little book of helpful suggestions and ways to bring slowness into our everyday lives. In this book is a chapter on creating a slow home, and whilst I am all for sparking joy Kon Marie style and have a serious de-cluttering habit, what struck me about this chapter was the need to look at ourselves, our routines and rhythms in our home. Melanie says "...our daily rhythms are affected by our living space, and vice versa, but if we solely focus on our environment, we are only doing half the work. To make long-lasting, deep changes, we must look below the surface and tackle our routines, rhythms and habits. Only then will we really be able to experience a slow and simple home." Our environments are a product of who we are, our values and priorities; in order to have a slower home we need to acknowledge why we want to live slower, accept our limitations, take a look at our attitude, approach changes realistically and then take the action needed to slow us down.
I have asked myself the following questions when considering a slower home - these bring to light the purpose and value of having a slower home, what is means to me individually and for my family. So, if this interests you and you are willing to do some work, join me with a pen and notebook and consider the following:
Acknowledge - ask yourself a few questions first: Why do you want to live a slow life? Why do you want a slower home? At what stage are you at in your life? What would you most like to change about your home life - what would this look like? Use these questions to help you establish your 'why' about having a slow home. The act of acknowledging what you want and where you are will motivate you to make these changes, and the answers you write down will provide a foundation of reasons you can build on and come back to when either the novelty wears off and/or life gets fuller/faster/more difficult.
Accept - accept where you are and the realities of your current home life. There is so much we cannot control or change. In my experience young children will play and be messy and turn your living room into a den minutes after you've cleaned and tidied it, working from home means no longer using the spare room as one giant laundry room (unless you want your colleagues to see your undies drying in the background during a Zoom meeting!), pets will shed, roll and rub themselves on your freshly vacuumed floor and readers will always have a pile of unfinished books, cups of cold tea (see my previous post) and crumb covered plates by their bed! Write down the things you cannot change about your home, accept them and let them go - this will give you the energy and space to focus on what you can change.
Attitude - My default thinking is black and white, all or nothing. I either have a slow home (in the country, with no distractions, all the time in the world and everything is like a spread from The White Company catalogue) or it's chaos and overwhelm. Obviously, this is not reality, but my mind finds it easier (and safer) to operate from clear cut, polar opposites. For me it is hard to live in the messy middle bit. I am learning that my attitude towards a change in my life shapes everything. A positive, realistic and kind attitude usually results in positive, reasonable change that is easier to maintain. Be realistic, reasonable and take it one step at a time.
Approach - This is linked to your attitude and taking things slowly. Look at your routines, habits and default settings. I can be in such a rush to leave the house that I forget important things like my purse or phone. To approach this problem and bring about change, I have looked at why I am rushing, can I make some realistic adjustments to my time keeping and, can I put all my essentials in one place that makes it easy to grab them before heading out the door.
Action - Slowing down your life and home does take time and effort. That said, the smaller the change the easier it is to follow through on the action. Pinterest boards with motivational quotes, Insta feeds full of calming Scandi homes and the things you have just written down won't do it for you, only you can start small and slow. It will feel so good to reclaim a little time, space and energy for yourself and others. By taking action and starting small, you will feel a sense of possibility and hope in the process, which, if you stop long enough to celebrate and enjoy the feeling, will come back to you as a reminder of how good it is to slow down when things inevitably speed up.
All of the above is a work in progress for me, I have to check myself and remind myself that I do have the time, I only have to prioritise it in the right way. Asking these questions, reflecting on my progress and keeping a record of small successes has helped me to slow down more often and create a calmer home for my family. Mornings and bed times are my Achilles heel, so getting up earlier and simplifying my routines at these pinch points in the day is starting to work. It is early days, and I don't think that a slow home is a destination you arrive at, it is a continuous journey to be enjoyed. I will keep you posted as to where my slow September journey takes me.
As always, please share your thoughts below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter. I would love to hear your ideas on slow living, how you are planning to slow your home and the ways you are approaching the whole slow process.