You may have heard of ‘slow food’, possibly even ‘slow towns’, but have you ever heard of ‘slow parenting’? The reference is not related to mental agility. ‘Slow parenting’ is a new-ish phrase, born out of the backlash against ‘hyper-parenting’. In the current worldwide recession, it is a growing movement – even if it is unintentional. Over the last couple of decades, there has been an increasing trend to enrol children in more and more activities and children whose parents have been unable to afford the endless round of ballet, gymnastics, horse-riding, drama, singing and language courses, have been considered to be lacking in opportunity, by some. Now it is being recognised that children actually benefit from spending more time with their parents, siblings and friends and to have the time to just ‘be’ and play. Parents are being forced to cut back on the number of activities they can afford to send their children to and it is not only good for the pocket – but the children seem happier too. There are so many things to do and places to go to that don’t cost anything.
What child wouldn’t enjoy a trip to the park to ride their bikes, play ball with friends, feed the ducks or just to watch the squirrels? Do you have a stream, safe river or beach nearby? Take the children, armed with a bucket and net, and let them just explore. Take spare clothes - you know they will need them! Most children love being taken for a walk in the woods, climbing trees, running free and having fun identifying different trees and plants. Total cost = £0. Similarly, do the children really need half a dozen posh outfits in case they are invited to a party? Can they make do with half that amount maybe? Do your children really need another large (and expensive) lump of branded plastic sitting in the corner of the room – when they barely have time to play with the ones they already have? By reducing the cost to the wallet, we are also reducing the cost to the earth. ‘Slow parenting’ is also the antidote to rampant consumerism. There are few families that have not felt the recession – many have been drastically affected and have lost homes, jobs and savings. Even if you are a family that has escaped relatively lightly, you may have needed to cut back on the number of activities your children have attended.