We all start out life as children. The days are long, we get to play with toys, and quickly make new friends. As we get older and start school, work starts getting piled on. Soon we jump from school to jobs and life continues to spin faster and faster.
Add a wife or husband, a few kids, toss a little technology into the mix and you might feel like your life is out of control more often than not. Everything is pulling you in a million different directions. Yep, this was our life too.
After Ashley & I got married, exactly one month later to the day I was laid off. Little did we know at the time that this would be but a small pinprick to the number of trials we would face. With every new trial, we started to push harder and harder to be successful. And each time we ran faster and faster towards burning out.
Unfortunately, it has taken us many years to realize that we needed to take a break from time to time. That we needed to set boundaries to the number of activities we take on and that we allow our children to take on.
When we moved down to help Ashley’s family in late 2018, we left behind much of our stuff. But we still had the same number of things to do on a daily basis. If not even more.
By moving, we effectively had to start our businesses over in a new area. And while it may seem like a simple undertaking, we had planned on traveling. Opening a physical location was not going to do.
Then 2020 happened…
Being removed from the normal structure of life taught us a few lessons about how we needed to rely on our family, how we could enjoy our time more, and how to step back from the hustle of life.
Since we live in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon & Washington were some of the last states to open. As we have chosen to pursue a more natural life, we continued to be restricted. This included not going to church or doing many other activities. It forces us to rely on ourselves and our family bonds.
Looking back, being stuck with doing church at home was one of the best things we could have done. I could see the growth in the knowledge we gained in not only Ashley and myself but our kids too. Daily scriptures became easier.
We also spent more time gardening and focusing our life on what our family needed.
Before we got pregnant with our newest little one, we started going for walks. Granted we were never consistent but taking the kids out for a walk was a nice time to slow down and enjoy nature.
There were no phones in our hands other than to take a picture. The pace of life seemed to slow down for those brief hours.
We started doing morning yoga, and the kids would come to join us. It’s not exactly easy to all fit into the living room on a rainy day and do yoga, but we made it work. It was another time we could all spend together.
While the temples were closed, the temple grounds were still available to walk around. If we ended up in that direction (and sometimes when we didn’t) we would take the time to head over that way. You can’t beat the peace you feel while on the temple grounds.
We have made trips to the coast, just to walk on the beach. Trips to the woods to go exploring and hiking. Trips to visit with family and friends. And we have found ways to use these family trips to grow our businesses at the same time. Everything benefits from slowing down.
Sharing the load
While I am certain our kids hate it, we have made changes to how the cleaning and chores are assigned. Everyone helps to get them done. And while we sometimes get lots of pushback, the extra time it has created has allowed us to do other things as a family.
On laundry days, instead of us doing it all, the kids each complete their own laundry. They help with rotating and folding.
Chores such as dishes, vacuuming, and mopping are assigned to them. This gives us time to work in our businesses. The free time created allows us more time in the garden, time to help family, and time to sit back and have do-nothing days.
When we first started the homeschooling journey, we jumped straight into online schooling. This turned out to be not much different than normal school and Lukas was quickly getting burnt out again.
We then jumped to using books and a few different curriculums we found. While this seemed to work ok, the stress was mounting. We kept feeling the drive to push the kids harder and harder. And they felt the stress when they could not pick up a subject easily and the book kept moving forward.
This year, we switched to a relaxed format of schooling, often referred to as unschooling. We choose a topic, and the kids learn about that topic. Time is spent doing family reading. Topics such as math are broken down and focused on what is important for each child.
This relaxed version of schooling has seen Kaylee accelerate ahead quickly in reading, writing, and spelling ability because she gets to spend more time doing what she loves. Not a day goes by where she does not have her nose buried in a book.
Skyler, while technically not in school yet, gets to participate as we do family activities. Instead of purchasing schoolbooks, we have purchased the kids a cookbook, and other information or fun novels for them to read. This has spurred their learning.
Planning for our goals
The great thing about slowing down has been really thinking about the future. Where we want to be, how we want to get there, and what will it take to accomplish it.
If our entire day was spent running around, doing school, working, and never catching our breath, it would be really hard to step back and see the direction we want our life to go. Not to mention having no control over how we get there.
Taking the time to plan has allowed us to start this great journey. It has refined it. It has also taught us to have the flexibility to change when things don’t go as planned.
As technology has evolved over time, the world seems to spin faster and faster. Everyone wants it now. That website needs to load in a second or two. They expect their package to be on their doorstep in two days or less.
But when we slow our own lives back down, we start to realize what is most important. Family, friends, and enjoying the experiences we have while on this earth. Slowing down brings us closer to each other and closer to Heavenly Father.