“life is too fast to walk”

…so said the sign outside my local gym yesterday. If I had my way I would change the words to read: “life is too fast, let’s slow it down a bit, hey?” – for my benefit as well as everyone else’s.

It would be pretty easy for me to run right now and I must admit, it’s my immediate reaction – to race around headless-chook style in order to get things done. The result? Not much gets done and I end up exhausted and frustrated. I’m well aware that in busy periods such as this I need to be disciplined and methodical –Β sit down, exhale, write a list, take it one step at a time, drink plenty of water, eat lots of good foods that include healthy fats (it really does make a difference). I also start the day with the intention of focusing on one thing at a time because I know that multi-tasking doesn’t really work in these circumstances. I make good choices, too – I listen to classical music in the car, I rub a little lavender oil (in an almond oil carrier) around my jaw at night to make sure I don’t hold tension in my face when I sleep, I walk as much as I can (preferably on the sand), I let the house get messy and I drink chamomile tea in the evening.

Because I am currently challenged by numerous deadlines, solo-parenting and the general busyness of running a household, I’d love it if you shared how you choose to slow down amidst the madness. What do you do to ensure things get ticked off the list? (I’m expecting some revelations from the Type A personalities out there!).

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  • jody

    Oh I wish live would slow down too. I just downloaded the Smiling Mind app for Riley to use, but we're all enjoying it. xx

    • jody

      or life even!

    • Jodi

      Isn't Smiling Mind brilliant?! Che and I often listen to one before bed each night x

    • jody

      Such a peaceful way to end each day. x

  • Noa's Ark

    Lve love love Lavender oil, The king of oils.

  • emma

    We live around the corner from a gym sporting that exact sign… and it's been jarring me all week as I drive past it. We have two comfy deck chairs in our front yard (as I pass them they remind me to make time to use them) and I made time last night to go and sit and just… be. We star gazed, cast out big thoughts into the big blanket of night, and I felt myself properly breathe for the first time in a few weeks .. So good for the soul.

  • Viksterbean

    Like you, I use Lavender oil…it truly is an absolute wonder of an oil! I also knit. You can't do anything else when you're knitting and so the urge to multi-task is stopped in its tracks. x

  • Lucy W

    I play my little ones instrumental lullaby cd and pile them and me in a deep bubble bath and I'm not lying when I say this can be at anytime of the day if I'm feeling overwhelmed! I also try and put really basic things on my lists just so I can have a few things crossed off, and yes sometimes it's as simple as have a shower or make dinner!! I also try and pick my battles when really busy, I let some things (like vacuuming!) slide and reach out to connect with those around me as that's the first thing I neglect when stressed, tired and busy and yet it's those relationships with my littles and loved that are the most important. Great tips in your post Jodi, esp the lavender oil, I'm going to try that as I've been jaw clenching and grinding my teeth at night for the first time and I'm waking with headaches.

  • aluminiumgirl

    I categorise "the list", then cross off anything that is non-essential, or can wait. I also walk mindfully to just make a space for the busyness.

  • elveny

    " I rub a little lavender oil (in an almond oil carrier) around my jaw at night to make sure I don't hold tension in my face when I sleep," – oh, what a tip! I have the exact problem (tense face and jaw) since the babies are around and often feel like nothing can lose it up. I'll definitely try this, thanks! πŸ˜€

    As to how to manage The List: my husband and I have a system that works wonders for us: we resolve to do only two things per day. If they both get done, you can take another one, but not beforehand. What's great about it is that two things to do seem really manageable so we don't get overwhelmed by the pure mass of what needs to be done (or seems to be essential even if it's not).

    I know of some people who set their clock to one or one and a half hour before their kids get up so they can manage some things before Family Chaos breaks lose (or just sit in quiet to drink a cup of tea or coffee) – but I don't think I could manage this as I need all the sleep I can get (my boys are just 7 months now).

  • Lindsey Cox

    I do EVERYTHING that can't be done with the help of a nearly 2 year old (chores, load of laundry, make school lunches/brekkies,blog_most important things first) at night, what I can't get done by 930 doesn't get done.

    At 930 I do at least 15 minuets of "relaxing" yoga apply lavender scented lotion(I add the lavender oil myself, sometimes rosemary too if I'm fighting depression or a blue funk) and go to bed this makes our mornings easier and i can start my day off with a cup of tea or coffee (with reishi that helps out a lot with my focus) and a devotional, and peace.

    Much luck to you

  • Kate

    Its crazy hard solo parenting ubt you are doing a great job! For me when it happens on the odd occasion its harder I think because of the loneliness – that lack of someone to bounce the every day small tiny decisions off. That is what sucks.

    I am the full time working parent while my husband stays home, but I also study full time work of hours too. With four kids aged five and under on top of that (or underneath that? since they are the top of the list!) it can sometimes feel like a massive undertaking – We need to be very organised! But we have our ways to deal with it that work for US.

    We are both list makers, anal retentively so …AND, and we actually have a house schedule… its colour coded. I'm not even remotely kidding.
    What I like about it is that we ensure everyone gets time together, time that is one on one and just as importantly – Simon and I get time alone to do things WE want to do. It allows me to have my moments of relaxation to kick my feet up,read a book or write blog posts, because otherwise I feel weird and guilty doing it while he is kid wrangling alone. It means when Simon is home alone with the twins and the other two are at school or kindy, he doesn't feel rushed to do chores while they nap, because we make a daily list of stuff and talk about who is doing what. He can chill and play some WoW πŸ˜‰
    We keep a tidy house, just because its easier for us to stay on top of it then instead of piling it up to do another day and it making us feel yuck when we look at it. For example, I do dishes and clean the kitchen benches every morning after I make breakfast. Simon vacuums every couple of days and does a load of washing every day (thanks to pootastrophy twins!). I wipe down the bathroom bench every now and then while I brush my teeth πŸ™‚
    And slowly, ever so slowly, we are teaching the kids to take responsibility for their stuff. Simon lets them go crazy creating and making a mess of forts and whatnot through the house all day, but at 5pm its cleanup time and they all tidy up together, the kids have to help – mandatory. Their room is their sanctuary though – in that it needs to be tidied up every day but their beds can be as messy as THEY like, and if they are working on block creations or have built a city and train track around the entire room, that stays out as long as THEY want it to.

  • jolene

    All your methods sound great.
    I love slow. We love Jack Johnson and one of his songs says 'slow down everyone you're moving too fast' and my 3 year old daughter wondered why he sings that. Now she sings it if she notices rushing people πŸ™‚ I think one of my favourite things in the world is to take a walk in nature and breathe and see. I often notice people that get out most seem to be people with dogs or small children. I hope I keep getting out for me- I need it:)

  • des

    We have a rhythm for each day, usually one big task to take on: Monday = granola/bread baking. Thursday = meal planning, Friday = big cleaning(and our fave) Treat Friday! I also intentionally unplug, whether it be in the evenings for a few hours or for a week at a time; I only take phones/texts calls from my partner, otherwise no texts, emails, social media(!!) or blog reading, I find that I am more purposeful with my time and gain a greater sense of my self and my family.

    • Silver

      You are so right about what happens when you unplug

  • infusionfibers

    We have made it a routine to have "the coffee project" each day. In our house, the morning coffee time is the one sacred time where the bustle of the day has not yet begun and we get to just be at our own pace.

    We sit and have our coffee, consider what we'd like to see done that day and then choose the project to tackle. It tends to be however small or large fits the day, from 15 minutes to a couple hours – anything from making a sweep through the house and simply tidying up, to purging a cabinet or weeding the garden. This means we keep up on the little things that so easily get neglected, and it allows us time to organize our thoughts in a peaceful state each day.

  • sari rose

    Every now and again I try to get up early an hour earlier than normal! It is amazing how much you can get done before the rest of the world wakes up. It is one of my favourite times of day too. The stillness and quiet can create a slowness that ripples into your day. I truly find that an early start can be one of the best ways to set you up for a day that quite simply just flows.

  • Audrey

    Life all came to a head stress-wise for me a week or so ago, I ended up seeing a counsellor (for people that know me, I'm not really one to seek help unless it is really freaking me out) and she really put things in perspective. Her advice? Even if I spend one whole day a week doing nothing except pottering about the house doing what pleases me (she specifically said no housework haha) then that would make the 6 other days infinitely more productive. Don't think my busy life allows one whole day per week, BUT it has made me stop feeling guilty about having time out on a regular basis. Also, I have taken to reading my toddler stories in my bed for about 45 minutes every morning and starting the day in such a cuddly and lazy way really makes a huge difference to the rush of getting to daycare/work on time – he is happy to eat brekky and play while I get us organised and that makes getting ready soooo easy as he has already had quality time before we get up to start the day πŸ™‚

  • Brook

    These are all great tips! We live in Silicon Valley where everything is EXTREMELY fast paced and it is a daily challenge to be slow. For my sanity and for the happiness of my girls here are a couple of things that help. On the weekend we SLOW roast a chicken (or two) which can be turned into numerous meals for the week. Slow cooker broth, tacos, etc. I also like to make a slow cooked large bean/grain salad that can last numerous days. Candles are also key! We don't use overhead lights often as candlelight creates a slowness. It connects us to the our natural rythym of sleep and wake. The golden glow is so calming for all of us. I also love using dry erase markers. They are great for drawing on windows! My children use them for sketching or math practice and I use them to make daily or weekly lists. Why is it that a list is pleasurable when it is done artistically?! Last but most importantly {connection} is so important to me these days. When I slow down and connect with another person, whether a friend, stranger or child it puts everything else in its place. Thank you for this wonderful space! I love it!!

  • Anastasia

    Dear Jodi, i am a faithful reader of your blog and very often I look through it before going to bed. I know busy, too. I am homeschooling two boys, the house is on me and I am a writer, the job I normally do at night, I give language classes, too. So, One can get tired from simply reading the list. So, I kept repeatinghow tired I am again and again, how hard this and that is… You know this thinking of business and tiredness is the most tiring thing. Life consists of phases and this is just one of them. This week I have decided to eliminate the word TIRED from my daily vocabulary… It makes wonders.

  • Sharolyn Newington

    My sister and I are trialling a Friday child share. Today, she has the two cousins (my boy and her girl), all day, and next Friday I will have them both all day. I can't remember how long it is since I have had a day at home to myself. I have a long list that I hope to get to, but I am taking it slowly. Drinking my tea at present. Making realistic goals and timelines. I am still in my pj's so I think I'll shower and make myself feel respectable.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Jodi. It is so true that when things seem most out of control, hectic and busy is when we most need to slow down, breathe, and make healthy choices, in order to accomplish what is at hand without going crazy.

  • Clare B

    A slow cooker. I kid you not, it has been a saving grace, even through the summer. Cooked overnight and ready to pop into the fridge for later when I wake up, or alternatively put onto go cook through the day in the 30 minutes grace I get in the morning before everyone else wakes up. At the end of the day it is one less thing to have to think about.

  • Pink Ronnie

    My one big tip would be to constantly revise and re-shuffle your to do list so that for any given day, it's actually achievable/feasible to tick everything off the list…
    Ronnie xo

  • Saskia

    Like you, I also let the house get messy, and then all of a sudden I'll get on a purge/cleaning buzz. Im not a methodical person, so I find it hard to focus on just one task – I have a little diary that fits in my big purse, I write lists in there and it can go with my everywhere – I also use my iphone for Alerts to appointments important dates etc…I also listen to the classical channel in the car – doesn't it make a great calm in those times when you have to quickly get places! I find it hard to achieve all that much in the way of my own 'projects' with two young boys under 4 at home! πŸ™‚

  • Margaret

    Walking is good for your whole body inside and out, so that's a great thing to do even if you have to push a pram.
    Tension in the jaw is usually because your mind is racing and your muscles are ready to speak, but we don't voice these thoiughts, so the tension is constant…so sing, it is amazing how it helps, or talk to the baby or other kids about what you can all see or what you are doing or planning to do, or tell a story, you don't even need a book.
    My calm place is to sit on my deck, facing the back garden and enjoy the view with a cup of tea or coffee and a book or some knitting…..looking at lots of green does something to the brain and makes us calmer, so walking in or near a park would be good if you don't have a garden.
    STOP PLEASE and think about this…..humans were never meant to live the way we do now, so don't be so hard on yourself…… there was an extended family , tribe, community or village as part of life, you were not alone to gather food , cook , look after your children and make things that were needed. So you would have company, help and guidance all the time and people who loved or cared about you nearby , we were never meant to cope alone with all that life throws at us.
    Even just being a small family unit and only having each other as emotional support, that is a big ask for anyone.

  • The Wholefood Mama

    I caught myself feeling like I was racing against the clock during the week and when I did I was happy just to notice that I was rushing. I aim to feel the calm that is always within even when I am outwardly busy. Having only 3 Most Important Tasks per day is a strategy many productive people use I haven't tried that one yet but one thing I have started doing recently which I am finding to be excellent is to be more specific when writing my to do list, so instead of writing 'finish ebook' (sighs and feels overwhelmed) I break it down 'finish chapter on stocking a wholefood pantry' (that feels much better!) letting the house get messy is still something that really irritates me and I am working out how I can get my boys to work with me on this one. Happy weekend to you xx

  • JoKnows

    When I feel like I am overwhelmed, tired and uninspired, I just tell my self "do something." It might not be the hardest thing on my list or the most important, but I'm ticking something off. The list is shorter and I'll tackle the hard stuff when I'm up to it.

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