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Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World Paperback – August 1, 2012
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Parenting in a complicated world
Strategies to help you be the best parent you can be. See more
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Crazy busy, right? Every parent I know is crazy busy right now, saddled with a to-do list that seems to grow faster than a kid.
The only way to keep up is too juggle faster.
What if the only way to keep up was too slow down?
"Take small steps. Walk around the neighborhood after dinner and talk and observe," advises Susan Sachs Lipman, who is making a case for what she calls the "slow parenting movement."
Author of the newly published "Fed up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World" (Sourcebooks) and the blog "Slow Family," Lipman suggests that we parents - not the schools, the kids, our work, our partner or the myriad other villains - are creating our own stress.
"When children are asked what they want most from their parents, the answer is often more of their attentive and unpressured time. If parents could realize that that's what kids want, they might create more opportunities for family bonding and having fun doing simple and memorable activities," she told me.
Easier said then done. I used to have a personal rule of opting out of weekend birthday parties because there are so many and each one ate into our family weekends - time I looked forward to when our family could move at our pace. I say "used to" because this rule eroded when my older daughter turned 5 and decided she loves birthday parties. This Saturday we attended two back-to-back, then added a playdate after for good measure.
My girls were deliriously happy. But also delirious.
I asked Lipman how to practice slow parenting in the face of a child's boundless energy and enthusiasm.
"Slow parenting doesn't look the same for every family and can even change from time to time within a family, based on family needs. It isn't as much about doing nothing as it is about doing things consciously and at the right pace for the family.
"I think it's important to take cues from your child. If the activities are child-driven and the child seems to thrive (and they can be accomplished without undue parental duress), then I might lean toward doing them. If the activities are causing stress, then I might choose or help a child choose which ones to let go for the sake of family harmony and down time. Much depends on what else is happening in the family, the needs of other siblings, and additional obligations at any given time," she said in an e-mail.
This approach might work on the weekends, but slow parenting seems at odds with our school days, when academics and enrichment activities fill up the hours. I asked her for some guidance for the stressed parents who have a packed schedule because they want to expand their child's universe by exposing them to dance and art and language and science.
"Slow parenting doesn't inhibit learning. It enhances it," she said. "While organized extracurricular activities can be terrific, they aren't the only way to expand a child's universe. In many cases, they may be inhibiting children's learning, experimentation, discovery and family bonding time. There is a growing body of research that shows that play time and family time, especially in early childhood, are the greatest determinants of academic and other success. Children learn through play. For that reason, in addition to a whole host of other physical and psychological benefits, we should place more value on family time and play than we typically do.
"Childhood lasts about 18 years, and there are usually plenty of opportunities to try different things. Problems can occur when, in our rush toward achievement, we try to do too many too soon or all at once."
What about for parents of older children, whose grades and activities "count" when it comes to college applications?
Lipman cited studies that found "the very character traits that lead to academic and other success - resilience, optimism, confidence, empathy and better performance in school - flourish not from extracurriculars, but from family time and parental support and love. My hope is that this information will help parents relax a little and enjoy family time on its own merits, as well as for its substantial benefits."
Overall, she said, "slow parenting" is about being present and engaging in small simple activities, like cooking together or playing tag after dinner.
Might "slow parenting" work for you? Or is the idea guilt-inducing, as if now you have to worry about fitting in a game of tag, too?" - The Washington Post
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This book might be what you want, but look at the table of contents, etc. before you buy.
The book begins and ends with chapters outlining the problems and many practical solutions. The bulk of the book is filled with an encyclopedic collection of ideas for slow activities, slow games, slow crafts, slow cooking, slow travel, slow celebrations and more. There are no photographs or image tutorials, so you can imagine how much is packed into over 350 pages.
Lipman has extensive scouting experience and that is reflected in many of the activities and songs. I particularly liked the catalog of call and response songs and childhood hand clapping chants that I have long forgotten. Also, many of the playground games will be introduced to my children because of this book.
This would be a great gift to yourself for your parenting bookshelf. You can browse through it when you need an idea for something simple and slow to do with your children. Most of the projects and activities are classic and use things you already have around your house. If you would like to win a copy, click down to the bottom for more information.
The anecdotes from the author's own family life are inspiring glimpses at the closeness that can grow when a family takes the time to just be, explore and enjoy each other's company. At 20 months old, my daughter is a little young for many of the activities in the book (though many of them are happily familiar yet previously forgotten to me from my own childhood), but we hope to incorporate more and more of them as we grow together.
This is a great book to keep coming back to to get some fresh ideas and remind ourselves of the value of slowing down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was interested to see a mention of how Dad walks to the library, but I looked in vain throughout the rest of the book for any other mention of visiting the library. Read morePublished on September 25, 2013 by M. Wong
I found this book boring and it mainly contained descriptions of crafts to do with your kids. I didn't finish reading it.Published on January 7, 2013 by Sarah K K
Not exactly what I expected, I thought it would be more about the "spirit" behind our fast paced world and why we should slow down, but rather it was a how-to book about... Read morePublished on December 6, 2012 by emom
Well, I haven't read the book yet, but I am so glad I found it! This perfectly describes the lifestyle I am trying to live for myself and my children. Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by Maggie spitler