In praise of slow

Columnist Kita Szpak discusses the benefits to your family – and your health – of slowing down

Parents everywhere are multitasking to sustain the balance in their lives for the benefit of their children’s livelihood and their own. This issue of Parenting Times celebrates the diversity of what Moms and Dads undertake to create a quality of life for themselves and others whether it’s in the personal, professional, leisure or philanthropic realms. Commendable, remarkable and appreciated are all these activities but hey, what about turning all this busyness on its ear with the suggestion of slowing down?

The title of this article references author Carl Honoré, whom I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing a couple of times. He’s the author of a number of books including “In Praise of Slow” and “The Beauty of Slowing Down.” As the titles suggest, he’s a great proponent of slowing down to enjoy the moments of every day rather than frantically moving from event to event, and turning your life into a scheduling regime.      

What is interesting is how Carl came to the whole notion of taking his foot off the accelerator and begin taking in what was happening in the moment. It’s likely you’ll relate to this. He was reading a bedtime story to his young son as fast as he could to get back to his work – he was on a tight deadline. Maybe even skipping some of the words or pages – what parent hasn’t done that to move things along?

In any case, it suddenly struck Carl how detached he was from what should have been an intimate and loving time with his son to a hurried exercise full of frustration and impatience. Who was the culprit here? Certainly not a little boy listening to a story and certainly not a father who’s trying to fulfill his son’s wish to be read to. The culprit then?  Perhaps an over-maxed calendar that can no longer accommodate even a very simple activity.

Take a moment to think how you’re moving through the week: are you able to take breaks and spend time with your kids without cellphone in hand or frantically rushing about fulfilling all your responsibilities that you’ve accrued over months and maybe years of adulthood? Is it time to shed some of these tasks to make time for what really matters? It’s not a crime to say “no” when your schedule is already full. More importantly, it’s absolutely necessary to slow down when you realize you are missing important moments with your family for the sake of a packed schedule.