As we speed towards the Holiday season (some would say we’re already there), I feel myself wanting to be more mindful and to practice Slow Living even more.
What is Slow Living?
Slow Living means structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to “voluntary simplicity” and “downshifting,” it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life. … Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well-being in the fullest sense of the word. Source
It’s taken me a while to realise that Slow Living is the way we’ve been living our lives of late. I believe for me, it came about as a result of my parenting philosophy, and the fact that we choose to provide Kieran with a calm and simple life. The desire to raise a happy and healthy boy has impacted every aspect of our life. We make simple and nourishing home cooked meals and snacks. We limit media and screen time. We have a relaxed schedule, and give him lots of time for free play. We make rather than buy.
Why Slow Living?
All of this has made me take a deeper look at my life, and start applying the same concepts to everything. Part of it is also due to budgetary constraints and our location. In this small town in France we don’t have access to many big chain stores, and we can’t simply run out to Target to pick up items we might need on a whim. The latter makes me jealous sometimes I tell you! Luckily as someone who loves to create, I am happy to make instead of buy. And because we don’t have a hectic schedule, I have the time to do so.
My previous profession and experience working in Environmental Management in the Caribbean has also had an impact: I prefer to reuse and upcycle, in an effort to reduce waste. After teaching housekeeping departments in hotels how to reduce chemicals, and use natural cleaners instead, I can’t do any differently at home!
Some Ways We Live Slowly
I love the adage Make Do, and Mend. Or Make, Do, and Mend depending on how you look at it. We make do quite a lot. Last week I made Kieran a Pirate costume in an afternoon solely out of things we already had. He was so happy and excited! And my husband was pretty impressed too.
When we do buy, or first option is to go thrifting.
That little cabinet holds my sewing threads. I love using vintage pieces for craft storage. The great thing about buying second hand is not only saving some money, but giving things a new life and preventing them from ending up in garbage dumps or landfills. It also means being patient! It has taken me a while to gather all the pieces in my craft room, but by doing it slowly I know I am buying only what I really need. This means that my storage solutions actually make sense, and work for me.
But Slow Living doesn’t mean being miserly, or pinching pennies, or only buying second hand. It can also mean saving up to buy that fancy espresso machine so that you can enjoy fresh brewed really good coffee every morning at home with your family. Or putting money aside to purchase a Kitchen Aid mixer for all the home made meals and desserts you love to make. Lucas and I definitely enjoy the finer things in life. He is an amateur connoisseur of wine, so we do have a budget, albeit small, for an annual purchase or two.
In fact wine is a perfect example of how we approach Slow Living. In order to drink really good wine and not go broke, we buy wine this year that we won’t necessarily be drinking right away. Because it costs less to buy a 2014 wine in 2014, than it will cost when it’s ready to drink in 2017. It’s like planting bulbs in the fall to have tulips in the Spring (you’ve planted your bulbs right?). It’s about forethought. and planning and deciding what your priorities are.
It’s still a work in progress for us. Sometimes I just want to go to Ikea and buy everything I want to have the beautiful living room I dream of. But then I remember that I have a five year old and a new kitten, it would probably be better to wait. Seriously though, I quite enjoy taking my time, and choosing furniture and storage items that are not only beautiful, but that fit with our lifestyle.So I’m being very mindful of what all our needs are at home before deciding what sofa and shelves we need.
A Slow Living Christmas
What does this mean for the Holiday season? Last year was the first year that I really decided to slow down with all the holiday activities and we enjoyed it so much, that we’ll be doing that again for sure. I’ll be focusing on making handmade gifts for the next 6 weeks. I want any decor to be simple, natural, understated and not take a lot of time. One thing I did for the first time last year, was put our tree up later. It made such a big difference in how much I enjoyed the tree. We had other decor up, but waiting until December 20th to get the tree trimmed, made us enjoy it even more. In Europe it’s actually tradition to trim the tree only on the 24th. I could never wait that long, but I totally get that. It makes it more special somehow.
What are some of the ways that you approach life, and the Holidays slowly and mindfully?