Extreme Home Make-Under: 5 Tips for Slowing Down your Home
By Shannon Honeybloom
When the “Slow Food Movement” began, we all breathed a little sigh of relief. As convenient as Jack In the Box and McDonald’s is, deep down, we all yearn for the nourishment of a home-cooked meal – and many of us applauded the grassroots movement who aimed to put food back on stoves and kitchen tables.
We’re witnessing the same movement happen at home. After a decade of Baby Einstein, educational DVDs, and a thousand extra-curricular activities for our kids, today’s parents are beginning to wonder: “Is all the hand-wringing worth it?” I’m here to tell you: It’s not.
The truth is, raising your child in a mindful way is all about slowing down. Rather than spend money on tutors and classes, spend time creating a thoughtful, comfortable, intuitive space for your family. Even in our high-tech times, it is possible to create a home that is a calming antidote to our fast-paced, stressed out lives.
But easier said than done, right? Don’t worry. If you decide to “make under” your own home, just take it one room at a time.
Here are five tips for creating a slow home:
1. The Front Porch
Create Community. Are you always running around, multi-tasking, heading in, heading out, going crazy, cell phone beeping, emails back-logged, and generally over-whelmed? Try this: even if you don’t have a front porch, make a front porch area in a shaded part of your front yard. Pull out an old wicker chair from the back of the garage, grab a book and glass of lemonade, and sit down, breathe. Wave at your neighbors. Get to know the mailman or mail woman. Take the time to sit, relax, and notice where you live and who lives near you.
2. The Living Room
Cultivate Warmth. In the living room, add warmth and texture through the colors and items of nature – the natural soft brown and golden glow of polished wood floors, the pretty pinks of fresh flowers, the soft cream of unbleached linen. A home is soulful and reflective of the home-maker and family, intensely personal. Layer the room with items from your life. The shell picked up on the beach where you got married, the gnarled stump your daughter found in Grandma’s backyard and gave you as a birthday present.
3. The Kitchen
Transform and Nourish. Cooking has almost become a lost art. Prepackaged, ready-made food is widely available. Processed and machine made meals are a tempting shortcut. But resist. Make a meal, your absolute favorite, and have it be a cooperative effort. Show your children and husband how to transform onions and carrots into soup, flour and water into bread. Take your time, and take it slow. When the cooking is finished, enjoy your meal together: A beautiful table, attention to detail, the cloth napkin folded just so, the fruit peeled, the bread warm. Healthy food, a loving atmosphere, the spirit of sharing.
4. The Bedroom
Breathe and Reflect. Take the time to de-clutter your bedroom. A bedroom is a place for refreshment, rest, reflection, sleep. Eliminate jarring colors and over-stimulating collections of doodads. We all need a space of our own, a room for solitary pursuits – reading, meditating, reflection. Let your bedroom be a place where you can truly withdraw (at least momentarily) from your busy schedule.
5. The Bathroom
Nurture Yourself. Over centuries, baths have been known to have restorative powers. Bathing is a form of touch, of sensory stimulation, and a way to bring warmth into body and soul. Baths are healing and they take time. Take a bath, slowly. It’s hard to nurture others if we ourselves are not nurtured. So take care of yourself, and add different essential oils to your bath for healing and support. For example, use lavender oil for its calming qualities, or rosemary for its stimulating warmth.
Shannon Honeybloom is the author of Making a Family Home (SteinerBooks, January 2010). For more information, visit www.shannonhoneybloom.com.