an unhurried childhood

I clearly remember the first day we took Che to Montessori. We walked slowly, following his amble, and when we reached the gate his teacher welcomed us. “I like that you let Che take his time,” he said.

I thought about that comment as I drove Che to school yesterday. I thought about it in reference to the hurriedness of our morning; the bread that I eyed as it took forever to defrost, the lost drink bottle, the blankets and books that went flying as we hunted for a hat.

This morning, just like most days, Che was unperturbed by time. He sat in a cardboard box popping bubble wrap; Poet was close by marvelling at a balloon. I was thinking about my role as the gentle hurrier – c’mon, c’mon, c’mon as I mentally tick the list – bag, jumper, hat, drink bottle, sunscreen, book for news, fruit for snack. If I didn’t hurry we would never get to school on time; hurrying is necessary but sometimes I wish it wasn’t so.

This week the new issue of Little One Kids comes out and in it is a feature about Elsa and Hugo’s rooms. I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle (the muma) and writing the story. Her two children, older than mine, are beautiful – kind, intelligent and thoughtful. Out of all the questions that Michelle answered there was one about extra-curricular activities that really resonated with me. She is passionate about an unhurried childhood -.slow days spent close to home without the need to do every.single.available.activity. As a result her children have a palpable love of their abode and are happy to spend their weekends in the garden, down the dirt road, chasing the rather endearing Spoon – the dog.

As a writer one of the best things that can come from working on a story is understanding. I loved reading Michelle’s words as she discussed the considered rhythm of their days in country Tasmania. I’ve been thinking about Che and how next year, as he trots off to school, I’ll do my best to not get caught up in the whirr of schedules, after-school activities and weekend to-dos.

Our mornings will be rushed, our weekends will be pyjama-clad and, hopefully, I’ll be able to slow childhood, just a bit. Am I dreaming?

photo: a little cottage in berry….

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Showing 44 comments
  • Steph

    I hope not! This is exactly the life we endeavour to create for our little people. Slow days where they can immerse themselves completely in their life's most important work…play! Swimming lessons, piano, ballet (the list could go on forever) can wait. Yes they will come but slowly, slowly and only one at a time. Can't wait to read your interview. Michelle sounds like a gorgeous soul. Wishing you a wonderfully slow week enjoying your babies:) x

  • Princesspillar

    I needed this today. Thank you. Its the gaining of independence that gets me. She wants to put her seatbelt on everytime. I NEED her to be quicker. Do I really though? I'm going to ponder on these thoughts and breathe, slowing my pace.

  • Nic

    I totally agree- and we were blessed with our beautiful Jonah who reminds us of this all the time because he will not be hurried. By anyone. I have no doubt you will be able to keep your gentle timing with Che next year jodi- you are ever graceful xx

  • sascedar

    yep, with you on this one. vehemently against extra-curricular activities, especially for the youngest of our school kids. children don't need to be scheduled, they need opportunty for long blocks of unhurried play. school is a big enough interruption as it is! :)sarah

  • Natalie

    Oh I agree Jodi……coming from a Steiner philosophy an unhurried childhood is so important especially these days where children are brought into 'consciousness' way too early. x

  • Vanessa

    A longer simpler childhood where they can just be is all I want for my children. That's why we're keeping Luca back next year. Up until recently we'd been going to a music class each week. Not because I thought they'd develop any quicker, or because supposed research says children acquire more vocabulary that way, but because it was fun. Then Luca came to me a few weeks ago and said: Mummy, I don't want to go anymore because I find it too tiring. So apart from preschool, we spend our days at home, pottering in the garden and annoying the dog. Them, not me! Still, I'm dreading school even if it's over a year away. But if you have a gentle rhythm now, you're bound to carry it through.

  • GourmetGirlfriend

    I am so lucky to call Michelle one of my dear friends.
    We share quite a few things. Being advocates of slow childhood is one of them.
    I talk about it often on my blog- todays post is all about exactly that.
    Childhood is a fleeting moment.
    To capture it and keep it in our hands is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
    I have children in early childhood and also some at the young adolescent stage.
    I am now beginning to watch young adults emerge from their chrysalis. Unfurling their wings.
    It is a joy and if we let them go too fast- just like a butterfly those wings are never quite able to develop their full strength.
    And no you are not dreaming- it is achievable, even living in the city.
    It is finding the balance between giving them the skills to live in a modern world and all the while cherishing the natural rhythm of childhood that is the tricky part.
    Good luck Jodi – but somehow I think you will do fine. It is being aware of it that is the biggest hurdle.

    • Jodi

      I love every word you ave written here Ruth…but especially your butterfly metaphor. I imagine that slowing the tween/teen stage is the hardest of them all x

  • mel @ loved handmade

    My boys love every minute of being home, they find it a drag to have to head out most of the time, so our weekends and school holidays are always very slow & easy whenever possible. It's easy to get caught up in the whir of after school activities. Each of our boys do swimming lessons, the middle guy plays basketball and the eldest has boxing, that's more than enough for us, but I suppose that may change as they grow older. In the meantime, they have time to play at home after school and I think that is the most important activity of all..x

  • emma

    We are definitely advocates of slow living…for years we have shunned extra curricular activities whilst friends have seemed caught up in a whirlwind of social and sporting events to the point where we need to book in weeks in advance to catch up with them. When someone asks me what I'm doing three weeks from now, the answer is inevitably "I don't know"! One of my happiest moments was a couple of months ago when I asked boy number one what he would like to do for his 12th birthday and his answer was "just hang out with you guys". We had a lovely time just going where the day took us and everyone was happy. Yes, the school mornings can be a little frantic at times, but hey, at least there's no squad training! Enjoy every moment of it jodi, they grow so fast. xx

  • Cassandra J

    Slowing down childhood, every mothers dream. I read a quote somewhere that went along the lines of 'your child will never have this day again, tomorrow they will be an older version of today.' It made me want to hold my son and never let go, but instead I have learnt to appreciate every moment.
    I love your outlook and I love the idea of pj-clad weekends. I think we'll try a pajama day this weekend, it's long overdue.

  • aluminiumgirl

    Just curious, how old will Che be when he starts Kindy?

  • Anna...

    I adore this notion Jodi. It is definitely how we are and will continue to raise Sage. "The Hurried Child" by David Elkind and "What's the Hurry?" by Kathy Walker are two books you may be interested in xx

  • Jane @ Shady Baker

    Wise words Jodi. This is a life we all need to at least strive for x

  • Lou Archell

    That is how I live my life with my boys. I hate those days when I am shouting 'just get your shoes on'! Whilst manically packing a lunch box. It's only going to get busier as Rufus starts full time tomorrow. Weekends.. are very slow, a concious thing. Mainly because Dan and I are just exhausted from the week, that long saturday breakfasts are a must. The boys are in their PJ's til lunch time. Then nature calls and long slow adventures in the woods are what we need. x

  • Mother Down Under

    I love this post…and I read Ruth's and love her post too.
    And there are some great suggestions and ideas in the comments.

    When I first had Baby C I really wanted to be the mother who had it all…and to me that meant doing everything including swimming lessons, Kindyroo, Rhyme Time, trips to the cafe to visit my friends.
    At some point I realised it was just all too much.
    And so we cut back.

    Most recently working full time was a huge wake up call.
    I usually only work three days a week and when I was working five days I found myself rushing through everything…rushing through feeding Toddler C his porridge so I could get to work, rushing through cooking dinner, rushing through reading Toddler C his bedtime story…and I hated that I didn't have any time to just be with my boy.

    Since I am back to my regular routine I have really tried to take advantage of our days together by not doing anything other than just enjoy each other's company…we take it slow.
    Toddler C often stays in his pyjamas all day…and somedays so do I!

  • Natasha

    Thank you, thank you Jodi. I am a kindergarten teacher with a classroom full of hurried children. I find myself simplifying my plans for each day in the classroom, and spending extra time outside in the garden with the children. That is where they are happiest. It may mean that I'm not quite meeting all my programming requirements (and I am definitely behind on my paperwork!), but it's worth it for a classroom full of calm children who are teaching me to appreciate the little things in life.

  • Lottie Storey

    The thing I find hard is letting go of weekend plans and going with the flow. If the kids are happy playing in the house or garden, we change tack and stay close to home rather than exhaust ourselves going on elaborate day trips or packing in activity after activity.

    I have mixed feelings about this, as I love to break things up and go to new places, adventure a little, and the weekend is the only time to do this. But there's definitely a balance to strike.

    Really hate the hurrying too. School holidays are such a necessary rest from it all.

  • Mumabulous

    I agree. Some unhurried time for kids to do their own thing is vital. Its pretty good for parents too.
    All the best

  • jody

    I love this Jodi, {and Ruth's post and comment above} we are homebodies and love just being together at home, but I am a bit of a hurrier sometimes, this is a great reminder to slow down and let them go at their own pace, thank you. xx

  • joanna

    beautiful! Just curious – what type of school is Che going to? We too are exploring Steiner/Montessori…and I am interested in knowing how the transition from these schools to mainstream schools go…

    • Jodi

      Che currently goes to Montessori 3 days a week. Next year he'll start kindergarten at our sweet local public school. I'm not concerned about the transition at all…Montessori (and Steiner playgroup before it) has been a beautiful foundation for him (and us) but I do think that transitioning at a later age may be a little harder for the child…x

  • Mama Mash

    Such a perfect topic for me at the moment… My son turns 3 next month and I am wanting to slow down and savour every moment of him. However I am struggling with finding peace and the actual slowing and calming down process of it all.

  • Nikki Fisher

    Your dream can indeed be a reality Jodi. River started mainstream primary school (there are 260 children total, 2 prep classes) this year after being part of a Steiner community since he was a baby and the transition has been smooth. His teacher is absolutely delightful and he loves school. He does dancing one night after school because he asked to but aside from that life is slow, no hurrying from place to place and definitely not on the weekend. On the topic of education and readiness and what style of education, every child is different even ones raised within the same family and mothers really do know best when it comes to their children and what they are ready for. Starting school is such a big step, I think sometimes more so for the mamas and papas than the children! As others have commented I am sure you will manage it all just beautifully. x

  • Nell

    This is such a lovely post Jodi. As Phiney learns to take new steps and pull herself up everyday, my thoughts have turned to how quickly this journey is going and how it'll only seem to pick up speed the older she gets. We make a real effort to keep the weekends free for family time when Ben isn't at work and I try to ensure a busy weekday is followed by a slow-paced one complete with book reading, playtime and cuddles on the sofa.
    But the pressure of school time and extra-curricular activities has worried me. We're not lucky enough to live near a Steiner or Mont. school so it'll be straight to primary school when she's 4.5years old.
    Thank you for reminding me to slow time down and enjoy the simple things, and savour every second. xx

  • Coryann

    What a wonderful perspective! In our generation, all we do is rush our kids and then we complain how they grow up too fast. It's really our fault as parents the way we idolize schedules. Thank you Jodi for bringing this dilemma to light.

  • kati

    i love the sentiment. we are a waldorf family and truly believe that a simple childhood where children are allowed to be children is best.

  • Ally

    This was a wonderful post Jodi … thank you. I needed reminding of the importance of keeping life slow especially as Ike starts mainstream school next year (what a hard decision!!) and am already feeling the pressure to 'do'! I hope your and Che's journey into school next year is as calm and connected and unhurried as you want it to be. Ally x

  • Michelle

    Your words are so sweet Jodi

  • Noelani

    What a beautiful reminder to just stop, and really enjoy the moment 🙂

  • Rebecca

    Well said! I feel the same way. All three of our children have gone or still go to Montessori. Our oldest started public school last month, and it's been a very smooth transition. We've kept our evenings and weekends free so we can slowly ease into this new phase of his life. I can't help but think ahead to next year, when our second child might be starting public school. We haven't decided if we're going to do Montessori kindergarten or public school kindergarten.

  • Lisa

    Balance. Balance of nurturing, nature and nourishment. The greatest gifts we give our children is ourselves, the time to live in the now. We can't hold on to yesterday and tomorrow never comes. Childhood is a balance of enjoying it, growing and giving our children the skills to be caring compassionate adults. Sometimes time management is a skill that needs to be learnt with gentle words and firm routines but balanced with time to live in the now! With 3 boys under 5, balance is so important for my sanity…like making a cake with too much sugar… its out of whack!

  • Katie

    I don't think you're dreaming at all. I share very similar views with you about not hurrying little ones through childhood – especially early childhood.

  • Megan.K.

    Can relate so much to this post, Jodi. We started school this year with my five-year-old and I made a deliberate decision not to enrol her in every after-school activity going. The first year at school is huge for the little ones, more so than pre-school, as they are taking in such a massive amount of new information, dealing with new teachers, new environment, new peers and (usually) going from three days at pre-school to five days at school. That's a lot to take in and to put even more pressure on them by hurrying from one activity to the next at that age seems unfair.

  • hellopaulandpaula

    Beautiful!…. Thanks Jodi. We all need that little reminder sometimes.

  • Tania

    I've had two at school for a number of years now. Although the mornings can be a little rushed I always make time to sit down for a quiet cup of coffee before any rushing around. Some mornings are worse than others but it generally gets easier the older they get (though the addition of a toddler doesn't make things easier!). For after school activities we waited a few years before starting them and we've followed a rule of one activity for each child at a time. Some things (like soccer) only last a season so it's only a rushed Saturday during the colder months. It's all about finding balance and I know that we as a family are people who do not like being rushed!

  • Lizeylou

    I have been thinking about this post a lot .. and we have decided to really focus on this especially now that the school holidays are here and there is no need to rush anything – thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Rachael

    The smaller text size on the blog is a little small for me now. Just a thought. : )

  • Kate

    Jodi, I just love this post. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down. My little man has just started walking. It is amazing at how he stops to look at the flowers, ants and weeds 🙂 as he wanders around our backyard – everything is new and amazing to him! Little people have the ability to teach us so much if we let them. The whole montessori concept is new to me but from what I have read, I love it! I must try and find a kindy in our area. Take care and thanks again for such a great post! Kate 🙂

  • Rachael @ Pretty Pink Peony

    Haha, sounds like my mornings! Though I do try to live by this notion of an hurried childhood. I hate rushing, but sometimes that's just how it's gotta be. Oh to have a child's unhurried sense of time 😉

  • Nicole

    Beautiful words, beautiful perspective. Hope you have a relaxing and unhurried weekend.

  • Kelsie Moore

    That's a beautiful thought. THanks for sharing. I haven't really thought of this in the sense of changing a childhood and rearing a child in the way of appreciating slowness. I love that

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