Slowing down isn’t always easy to do.
Recently, I realized my daughters needed more slow times, more unstructured play and more quiet activities. Summer is always so tempting to rush about — swimming, walking and playing outside, going places and visiting parks. Playing outside and doing activity after activity is not always what we need but it’s always what we feel we must do in the summer. Add to that a summer of very little rainy days and it’s enough to exhaust a family.
At least that’s how we’ve been feeling — judging by how tired and cranky we’ve all been feeling lately.
In fact, I suspect we’ve had a very bad case of a soul fever in our house.
Soul fevers is a phrase coined by Kim John Payne, author of “Simplicity Parenting.” I read Payne’s book last fall when I was launching Awesomely Awake and I yelled out a few, ah-has when I read the chapter on Soul Fevers. The authors describe soul fevers as illnesses of the soul that are just as serious as a physical fever. In fact, recovering is much the same. You know your child has a soul fever if he’s just not acting right — perhaps misbehaving or withdrawing more than usual. This acting out, the book states, is a sign of a larger issue and a serious break is needed.
In the adult world, we called them mental health days. Remember those? When was the last time you took a mental health day and watched a chick flick and ate take out? Yeah, me either.
When was the last time you gave your children a mental health break?
Any intentional parent knows when things just aren’t feeling right. We are present and aware and understand that slowing down is as important as breathing.
Children need slow days, too. Well, I guess I just didn’t think they needed them since they are on summer break from school after all.
That’s when pausing as a family is necessary and effective.
Clearly, our children need downtime even if they don’t think they do.
Lately, we have had to get serious and start cutting back. I have to do this every now and then for myself … you know, start looking at the calendar and really start considering what’s important and what is just going to have to wait another year. It’s hard to make those decisions — especially when you’ve been looking forward to something. But this year it’s urgent. I see how this crazy go-go-go mentality that my kids often inspire with their wants and desires is impacting our days negatively. They may not like that we have to forgo a few social events, but it’s what we need to do to get back on track.
Last week, we put swimming on hold and just enjoyed each other’s company inside. We made friendship bracelets and other art projects that were just fun and had no purpose.
This week, at their urging for a walk, we went on a slow pajama walk instead with strict rules of no rushing, no playing and no running. We’re having Sunday Sundaes. We’re squeezing in more snuggle time. Now that we’ve started doing all of this, the girls seem more open to staying close to home rather than running about. They are now choosing more quiet, simple activities rather than the loud, boisterous ones they were picking a few weeks ago.
The result has been a much more peaceful, much more loving atmosphere at home.
I’m kind of liking soul fevers, in fact.