*** I am reposting this article I wrote back in June of last year. It seems my "vision" has become a popular one recently with all kinds of articles popping up about SLOWING down. I have updated my bullets with how we are doing on each item. I continue to link to articles on the bottom of this blog so check them out and join me on my crusade for a normal paced life!
Without a doubt, the main thing that our JB and I "feared" about our return to America was losing the slow-paced life we had come to know and love in Turkey and the Azores. Few options and small communities had created a very limited amount of outside influence in our lives for four years. While sometimes the difficulty in finding things we needed and having choices and opportunities bugged us, generally, we knew that this was unique to where we were and we embraced it.
JB and I talked extensively about our return to America and what our plans were. We know we are planning to buy land and farm. We know that will take about a year, but it could take longer as we plan to make sure we take our time in finding the perfect place. We therefore know we will eventually be more rural and removed very soon.
Until then, we are in the suburbs. Why? Well, we decided, more for the sake of the kids and I that we did not want to live in one small town and then a short time later, move again to another small town. In other words, I wanted to only adjust to small town life one time. We are not sure where we will buy land. We are pretty positive it will be in Tennessee. And hopefully somewhere within about four hours of where we are now. But other than that, we don't know.
JB got a job at a small, country ER with an organization that will allow him to move to a different ER when we choose exactly where we are going to live. He will be doing shift work. This means he will either work 7pm to 7am or he will work 7am to 7pm. He will do approximately three shifts a week or eleven shifts a month.
The good thing about a small, country ER is that he will not see much major trauma. People needing major care will go to two local trauma centers. He is hopeful that this job will be something he enjoys because working shift work (with the option to drop to part-time) will be much more conducive to farming than a full-time family medicine schedule.
(A small side note. Country ER's are generally staffed by family medicine doctors. Doctors who specialize in ER care are in bigger hospitals.)
So how, while living in the suburbs, can we continue to embrace the slow life we have come to know and love? Well, I'm going to tell you the things we have decided to do. I am not stating these things as gospel or guaranteeing that we will always follow these bullets. We only know we are going to try these things ... for now. We know that it is easier to shut things off now when we are used to not having them then to try to shut them off later, after we have gotten used to them.
- No cable -- We plan to have movies and videos available for us and the kids but since we have adjusted to life without real TV (and especially commercials), we are hoping to continue that. [UPDATE: Doing great with no TV!]
- A Sabbath Day -- Because JB won't always have Sundays off, each week we will pick a day to be our Sunday. This day will be primarily spent at home or outside, without Internet and without a lot of technology. It will be a time for our little family to grow together. [UPDATE: We do this as often as we can. JB's work schedule limits us sometimes but we have been continuing to do this whenever we can. We LOVE taking a day off!]
- A Family Day -- Because JB won't always have Saturdays off, each week we will pick a day to be our Saturday. This day will be a time for doing something fun. Maybe the zoo or a hike or a little day trip. It may also just be spent at home too of course. [UPDATE: This has not been so easy to do with JB's work schedule. But we have been purposeful about finding outdoor family activities to do.]
- Phone limitations -- I have decided to get a basic phone without Internet on it. JB is not worried about becoming addicted and so he will get some cool "features" on his phone that will be helpful. I also plan to not answer or be on my phone when out with my kids. I will return calls at my convenience and use the phone the way I want to use it. [UPDATE: I was not able to get a phone without Internet on it and have been more blown away by the Smartphone than I believed I would be. But I still make a point to try and limit my use on the phone, especially when "out and about." I also try to keep my cellular data turned off so I can't utilize it whenever I want.]
- Entertaining limitations -- We used to entertain a LOT. We loved it. But we have realized that this doesn't really fit for us as the parents of four young children. So ... (a) we have already started implementing this a bit since having the kids. We are not having people over as much for dinners. These take a lot out of us and while it is something we enjoy, with little kids, we feel the need to avoid doing this regularly. (b) For a little while, we are not allowing guests to stay with us while we adjust to our new place. Once we feel we have settled in, we hope to have guests, but to try to keep our routines and normalcy when these guests are staying with us. (Things like homeschooling, Sabbath Day, etc.) (c) I've had a few friends in my life who have requested that I not just "stop by." But I have always had an open door policy and my house had a revolving door. I have realized that that worked fine when the kids were very little. But now that we are trying to school from home, we want to encourage people to call first so we can ask them come by at the best time for our school schedule. [UPDATE: This has been easy to do as we have not met a ton of people here. We have really enjoyed limiting our entertaining schedule both at our home and at other people's homes.]
- Follow routines -- We want to have some set school hours and a bit of a normal routine to our days that doesn't change much from day to day. Kids who attend school have routines, and we want to try to have five days a week that are the same each week. [UPDATE: I have actually enjoyed varying our school routine for variety. I thought I would crave a schedule, but I have found that right now, the variety keeps my kids from getting frustrated or bored.]
- Limiting activities -- We do not plan on having the kids involved in anything right now. We may join an AWANAs group in a few months. But generally, we are going to avoid weekly commitments. This will be especially helpful because we are not planning on getting a second vehicle right away, and when JB is gone with the van for work, I won't have transportation. [UPDATE: We still don't have a second vehicle, but we have had help from my in-laws with their vehicle and our friends in Kentucky who loaned us a truck for many months. Despite that, we have still been very purposefully avoiding extra activities.]
- Limitations on travel -- We will be taking trips but we are not planning any big ones right now. We are keeping our travel small and trying to get used to our new home. We want to be home for awhile. [UPDATE: We did keep our travel down for the first 9 months we were back in the States. But then we did do one trip to Disney World. We plan to continue to be purposeful about our trips and will not be taking another one for quite some time. We do want to travel and see the USA with our kiddos but want to make sure we don't do too much.]
- Purchase restrictions -- We want to make sure our kids continue to think that buying things is not easy and that options are not numerous. In addition, we want to teach them that there are cheaper ways (and more fun ways) to do things than just going to the store and buying the first thing we see. An example: both the boys need/want a bike. Instead of buying new bikes, we visited numerous Goodwills and scoured Craig's List. Yesterday, we found two bikes at a thrift store that JB is going to fix up with the boys. [UPDATE: This we have continued to do! We try to buy everything that we can second-hand with the exception of birthday or Christmas presents. The boys have really gotten into looking for legos, clothes, and shoes second hand. We've done a good job in this category!]
- No fast food -- We have gotten used to eating at home or eating higher quality food. We are going to eliminate fast food from our life. An exception: Chik-fil-A just to give ourselves one, slightly healthier and cleaner option. (In general we are going to work on making healthier food options now that we have those options available to us -- but that's not really related to this post.) [UPDATE: This one has gone great!]
- Embracing the rural life -- We hope to get familiar with Farmer's markets and parks and hiking trails and outdoor activities. [Update: We have not done this quite as much as we hoped mainly because any free time we have had has been used with purchasing our land and making trips to our land. We do, however, see this changing greatly when we settle at the farm in June.]
- No video games -- While we will allow learning-based games on our iPADs or the computer, we've decided not to have our kids play video games. We just think that this is something we can avoid since they haven't gotten into them yet. I grew up playing video games now and then and enjoyed them, and we don't think they are completely bad. But we do think they are use up a lot of quality time. [UPDATE: We've done great with this one!]
- No technology in public -- We want to continue to try and have our children have other things to occupy their time when out. Coloring and books and games. I like what my friend Stebbs once said about allowing the iPAD to be part of your arsenal but not the main tool. We will allow it sometimes, but generally, we want our kids to come up with other ways to entertain themselves. (UPDATE: This one has gone great. It requires really being intentional when going to restaurants or other places where it would be so easy to just let the kids use the iPAD. We instead bringing coloring or a deck of cards or other activities. While there are exceptions to this rule, we really make this a focus both with tablets and with our phones.]
- Avoiding commercialism -- We want to try to limit our children's exposure to malls and places with overstimulation. [UPDATE: We have done really well int his category as well!]
Here are a few blog articles I have found (or written) that support our notions:
- Busy is a Sickness
- A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy
- Enjoying Life in the Slow Lane
- Three Ways to say Yes to Rest
- Reflections on the Slow Life (by Grama Di)
- What God Really Wants for Moms with Young Children
- Exhaustion is Not a Status Symbol
- New research suggests nature walks are good for your brain
- A mile wide an inch deep
- The Disease of Being Busy
- 10 Things our parents did that parents today should bring back NEW!
I think you are making outstanding choices for your family! When we gave up cable it was one of the best decisions we made. The first year without cable, I read more good books than I had in years. I do not miss it one bit! It was such a time hog! I applaud you and JB!
Way to encapsulate a great philosophy for living, Wendi and John! I hope a million parents read this and realize how simple, purposeful choices can influence their quality of life. Thanks very much for posting!
I am impressed with your choices! I, at different times in the lives of our children, have wished that we had made some of these same decisions--specifically, those choices related to healthy food, work and the accomplishments from it being the reward rather than money received, and repurposing goods. It does not work to go back and live without cable,etc. after exposure is complete, and Roy and I and our family are a testament to that! We, even now, want to think outside of the box in eliminating or bypassing our cable provider. I will pray that you and John have the stamina and resourcefulness to make what you deem to be the most important to stay the most important for your family. So glad that you are home and deliberate!
I love it, Wen! We live in downtown Orlando, so we are in a city setting, but have made many similar choices and are enjoying the results. We walk to places whenever we can, limit activities and play dates/get togethers, and have cut out fast food (including Chik Fil A) entirely. I wish you all the best as you settle into the newest chapter of your lives and admire and respect you and John's choices!
Hopefully the no big trips thing isn't a very long goal! Whenever my sister talks about Cars land at Disneyland California Adventure I think about how your kids would love it!
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