Slowing down: taking the time to make some time.

living slowly, living peacefully |
There are only 24 hours in a day and an hour will always be sixty minutes; no more, no less. When we’ve been cramming too much into those hours it shows up in negative ways: children get cranky, routines become rushed, and things just feel tense and wound up too tightly.

If only every day could move with the warm, peaceful pace of an afternoon at the seaside instead of the tic-toc, tic-toc and blaring alarms of the typical week day’s calendar?

What busy parent doesn’t wish for more time in the day?

While I may not be able to actually create an extra hour, I have found that I can give myself the illusion of more time. When life has been hectic, and things are starting to feel rough around the edges, I know that I need to take the time to make some time.

So, how do I create the illusion of more time?

hot apple cider recipe |

With Intention

I remind myself of my purpose: to slow down. Even if it means I have to reschedule plans or cancel them altogether, I make downtime a priority. I take a deep breath, accept that there are more important things at stake than finishing my to-do list, and I make the conscious choice to slow down and savor this time.

I make sure my kids know our intention, too.  I might tell my oldest daughter that “we are going to have some quiet together time” and I tell the younger kids that we are going to “use our soft voices and our soft feet” – meaning we’re going to speak quietly and not run or scurry about.  My kids also respond well to animal images. I might tell them “we are going to be sleepy bears” or “move slowly like snails.”

Set the Mood

First, I unplug by turning off the television.  I usually turn off the radio, too (I leave it on sometimes as soft music playing in the background or if we are listening to an audio book).  I don’t run the washing machine, dishwasher, dryer, or other noisy appliances.

If having a lit candle won’t cause stress or a safety concern with young children around, you might choose to light a candle.   My mom lights a stick of incense after dinner to signal that the quiet part of the day has begun.

Slow down and live in each golden moment. |


I don’t use this time to answer email.  I don’t answer the telephone. I don’t even answer the doorbell.  This is the time to disconnect from the outside world and focus on the world inside in my home.

Be Like the Sun

If I want time to slow down, I have to slow down.  Following the advice of one of my favorite books, I like to imagine that I am the sun:  my young children revolve around me, my little planets.  If I am hurrying across the sky, they are hurried. If I move slowly across the sky, they move slowly with me. I have found that, even if they are running around wildly beforehand, if I sit still the children eventually will join me.

Be like the sun: move slowly and radiate warmth |

Be the Sun! Move slowly and compassionately, especially in disciplinary situations, bringing warmth and light – it’s a tall order! You may need to practice.”
-Sharifa Oppenheimer, Heaven on Earth

Do One Thing … Or Nothing

I pick one quiet activity for us to do and only one:  reading a book together, having a family art or handwork time, doing a puzzle, or playing a board game.   Some families I know have an afternoon Tea Time, providing a small snack and a peaceful break in the day.

Even better than doing one thing, do nothing.  Be still.  Be an observer. Stare out the window and watch the birds in your backyard. Watch the raindrops slide down the windowpane or count the snowflakes, depending on the season. Sit on the porch swing and watch the clouds roll by.

A Day or An Hour

Once a month we try to make sure we have a weekend on the calendar where nothing is planned so that we don”t have any obligations or travel commitments. We call those “pajama days” and we stay in our pj’s all day to ensure that we aren’t tempted to go anywhere. Those quiet days help to slow down the month.

But, more often than not, our slowing down occurs over the course of a few quiet hours scattered across our week.

The hours that seem to zoom by when I”m on the computer, running errands, or busy with household chores are the same length of time, but somehow those quiet, still hours seem to last longer. It may not actually be more time, but it feels like more time.

That illusion is one I will gladly believe in.

Are you always “on the go” with your family? How can you tell when your family is too busy? What strategies do you use to slow down?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. I love this and definitely need to add intention to our day on a much more regular basis.
    .-= Christie´s last blog ..The ABC of Child Care: D is for Daily Record =-.

  2. These are great ideas. My children, like yours, certainly respond to my stillness when I sit down with them—everything seems to calm down when I do so. Mine are still little (nearly 2 and 3) so for quiet times together, we sometimes cuddle under a blanket or I sit and pretend to discover and count their body parts. They think it’s hilarious and I enjoy the fact that they’ll sit still long enough for me to cuddle them.

    Thanks for the great reminders.
    .-= Nicole at Burning Bushes´s last blog ..Alarm Clock…Redeemed =-.

  3. This post couldn’t have been more timely for me! Thank you!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..I Got My Seeds!!!! =-.

  4. This makes me wonder what kind of example I must be setting with my kids. Troy is seldom awake for more than 30 minutes before he wants to get dressed and know “where are we going.” I don’t think he gets that from me – I’d stay in my pj’s and hibernate all day – but I wonder if it doesn’t reflect my go-go-go, always doing some thing mentality. Our “quiet” time tends to involve a movie and popcorn. I need to work on disconnecting more. Thanks for the reminder!
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..A new perspective =-.

    • oh, I think being a go-getter is wonderful, too (and love the image of Troy ready to get going before he’s even dressed – ready for adventure!)

      I think that “go go go” has to be balanced with down time. At least I’ve noticed it needs to in my family, or else we burn out. (I really notice this during the holidays or the final push of the last weeks of school)
      .-= Kara´s last blog ..Today on Simple Homeschool: At the Heart of Homeschooling =-.

  5. Loved this post. We have had a very fun but very busy week and I am vowing to slow down next week and ‘un’schedule us or not schedule us to be places….unless it is a spur of the moment decision that has us all up for an adventure. I tend to have a week every once in awhile where I overdue it and my husband always points out it is my choice. I guess, for me, it takes a busy week every once in a while to remind myself what is best for our family.
    .-= For the Love of Naps – Sarah´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: skiing for the gold…. =-.

  6. This is something we work on each week. There is a lot of downtime in our family. It’s the best way I’ve noticed for my boys to be creative. We all crave the balance here.
    .-= Melitsa´s last blog ..Raising Playful Tots # 13 Outdoor play and contest =-.

  7. LOVE this!!! Thanks for the great practical ideas!

  8. I think that it is sad that we have to intentionally slow down. But, we do. I am looking forward to Spring when all of this South Dakota snow goes away and we can spend our time reading books on the front porch and gardening. It is so much easier to be unplugged when it is nice outside.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..You Are =-.

  9. I needed this today. Thanks!!

  10. What excellent advice, I’ll be implementing some of your ideas today!
    Thanks for a great post.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..E is for … =-.

  11. I love your advise for adults and for children. I have taught meditation to children and teens for several years and I can tell you they take to it like ducks to water. It slows them down, gives them time to think, and time just to be.
    You are doing work that is valuable and life changing. Good for you!
    .-= Janice Haynes´s last blog ..I Just Wanna be the FUN Grandma… =-.

  12. These are such wonderful ideas for slowing down and creating the kind of mindfulness that has a way of expanding time. Each one is very do-able, too. I also really like using mornings, evenings, mealtimes (and after-dinner walks or walks to school) to slow down and check in, even if the schedule is a bit busy.

  13. I love slowing down, I called it our “nothing day”. No plans, nowhere to go nothing!! It’s very hard to explain to my friends who always want to plan playdates, outings or classes for the children.
    I hate running around, I hate the mood it puts me in and the stress it generates. Here’s to more slow days!

  14. Beautiful post. I love what you said about the fact that your kids will join you in whatever state you’re in. I need to be intentional about being calm too.
    .-= Meghan´s last blog ..Moon Games =-.

  15. What a timely post for me!
    I love that analogy of being the sun. Someone once told me that when you are raising your children, you are the sun and they are the moon. They are impacted by your moods and movements but they have their own circles. You are connected but separate. I love that!
    I’m am going to make sure and have some quiet time with my children today. Thanks you!
    .-= Jenni @ My Web of Life´s last blog ..Giving Up Carbon For Lent =-.

  16. I have registered for all of the Simple websites via RSS so it has become kind of a frustrating/sticking point that the other sites of “Simple” refer to the other pages so I end up with double feeds of the same article. I know you mean it to be helpful to refer the person back to the other piece of Simple media but for those of us who chose the sites that we wanted to see, just becomes a hassel instead of a time saving way to read your pages.

  17. Kara, wow, this is good stuff. I am all for unplugging. My favorite way to slow time is to sit and read with the kids. Or pick a long period of time I won’t answer the phone, check e-mail or otherwise be distracted from a downtime together.

    I have found I need to be diligent about scheduling down time in our weekly lives. That space on the calendar is not a space to be filled, it’s set aside for down time and we all suffer if we get pulled away from that by all the good “stuff” we have opportunity to participate in.

  18. I love pajama days. But my favorite was when I was in school and my mom gave s “mental health days” where we would skip a day of school and get to spend time as a family. Especially with older kids who are always on the run with sports and clubs it is nice to take an unexpected break from it all.
    .-= vanessa´s last blog ..DVD Workouts =-.

  19. i just love the image of the parent as the sun setting the pace for our little planets.

    just beautiful.

    i’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and in fact decided to take this week off from blogging and writing projects because my kids are home on school vacation and me trying to multi-task all week does not set a relaxing tone in our house.

    they go back to school on monday and i will enjoy getting back to work, but this week….it’s all about kid-sized adventures and taking things slowly!!!

    .-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog vacation slow down =-.

  20. What great advice. I love how practical your list is. Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life is a great expansion on this theme. Kent is a Christian and writes from that perspective, but she also includes interviews with moms from other faith traditions, and a lot of what she says is applicable for any busy mom who wants more time to nurture her spirit (and her childrens’ spirits).

  21. Fantastic article! I especially love the “Disconnect” part – excellent idea, easy to implement. As much as I pride myself that I keep our weekends as open as possible, I do a very poor job of keeping to task & scheduling downtime during the week. I know there is lots of wasted time on the computer, mindless milling around the house, scurrying about with no real agenda at hand.

    I can tell we’re too busy when we haven’t had a “normal” family day at home in more than 2 or 3 days – my kids are only 9 mths & 3 yrs, so it’s important to me even at this age that naptimes & bedtimes are as consistent as possible. If things start to feel like it’s the holidays when it’s NOT, that’s when I take a close look & scale back a bit.

    That may mean rescheduling planned events or invited dinner guests; it may mean saying “no” to the next 2 or 3 requests that come up in the following week or two.

    But I do think scheduling in downtime during the week, regardless of how busy or well-paced the week is going, will allow everyone to feel connected & maybe even refreshed. Great ideas!

  22. Two years ago I decided that our life was just too fast paced and decided to drop all our extra-murals for a term, which became a year and now two years… aaahhh the peace of endless afternoons and the lack of dash in our lives is so worth it!!! Some may say madness but my kids were doing art – we do more art at home than they ever did in a class once a week, sport well we have time to go up the mountain behind our house and run on the beach every other day. I understand the benefits of mastering team sports and so on but my kids do have time on their hands they don’t have to master every skill by the time they are six.
    Now my older kids do music – but it is minimally invasive, the teacher comes past our house when he is free (how relaxed is that!) so still no cramming all the kids in the car and dashing across town!!!
    It was the rushing through school and gobbling lunch to get everyone out the door on time in the afternoon and then dashing home and cramming in dinner – the stress and number of ruined days was just not worth it for us!!!
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..How To Keep Se7en + 1 Kids Busy All Day… =-.

  23. It is so easy to get sucked into the fast lane. We can be burned out and worn out before we know it. I try not to over-schedule our family, but there are times when things just have to get done. I have found that I have to intentionally plan downtime. If I know that this is going to be a busy week with appointments and commitments, I also plan some downtime and pajama days.

  24. We don’t do a whole weekend as a pajama day, but I do try to have one after a particularly busy week. There’s usually not anything that can’t wait an extra day. I liked the reminder that this sort of time doesn’t just happen; you have to plan for it and make space for it and intend and participate yourself. Thank you!
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..This Stuff Ain’t Bad =-.

  25. Thank you for the reminder I’m really needing this week. Sometimes it really is the simple, small things, isn’t it?
    .-= Jan (Family Bites)´s last blog ..Chicken-Club Pizza =-.

  26. great ideas, love it.

  27. What a great post. We recently had some events happen that caused me to slow down a little. I hadn’t even realized how go go going was affecting me and my daughter. It felt so good to slow down and just BE together. It’s something I’m going to add to our days and weeks. Thanks.

    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..5 Easy Tips for More Sustainable Living =-.

  28. I’m all about slow. My middle name could have been Tortoise.

  29. Oh, Katie, I just loved this.
    I’d give our family about a C+ in this area. We’re not always on the go like some people, but we DO pack a lot into our 24 hours.

    Wonderful suggestions, knowing me, we would gravitate toward a ‘Tea Time’. (:
    .-= Aimee´s last blog ..9 Tips to Successful Menu-Planning =-.

  30. “If I want time to slow down, I have to slow down.” so simple yet profound and hard to put into practice sometimes.
    Love the idea of “tea time”. We have snack time but I think having “tea time” complete with fancy cups would be a nice touch!

  31. Love this post! This is one of my new year’s resolutions and so far I’ve been doing ok. My life used to be “go go go” and this year I’ve made it a priority to slow it down and just enjoy being with my daughter.

    Doing nothing. Just sitting and cuddling. I know that there will be a day when she will not want to hang out with mama and papa anymore so I’m trying to get as much as we can.

    Love the pajama days idea. I hope to have a family pajama day once a month from now on.
    .-= Cheryl´s last blog ..Making your small business money make sense =-.

  32. some great ideas here…my greatest tip to make more time- make dinner while you are making breakfast! It really helps keep me from feeling I am in the kitchen all day
    priest’s wife´s latest post: Not ‘Juicy’ Here

  33. I LOVED this post! Thank you for writing this! I loved your example of the planets with the kids orbiting around you…and it SO true! When I’m rushed and when I over extend myself everyone feels it! I know how important down time is and we do try to incorporate it into our weeks, but then sometimes there is just so much to do that the down time is the first thing to go! Thanks for the reminder that is is ok to slow down!!!

  34. Thanks for the tips! it is great to have these types of reminders. 🙂
    I made a conscious effort this weekend, and did not work from home for an entire day! And stayed in my PJs all day! It really does help make for a better week to start off with a little down time.
    debbye´s latest post: What Do Babies and Toddlers Sleep In?

  35. Thanks, I did a search and this blog came up. My husband asks me to stop scheduling on the weekends, my kids (2 and 3) often say they want to go home. I didnt get it until my daughters teacher asked me if something is going on at home because she is not sticking to routine and resisting requests they make. We do have routines but they are rushed. I need to work on slowing down and really liked your suggestions and images. This will help me to be more mindful.


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