Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Maximizing Your Family Time: Slow Down

There was a popular song when I was much younger that started with the lyrics, "Slow down, you move too fast, got to make the morning last."  Sadly the title of that song included less than profound and meaningful words, "Feelin' Groovy."

However, I wonder if those first lines of that song aren't still a wise admonition for much of our culture today and perhaps for you at your house . . . "Slow down, you move too fast."

If you've traveled to other cultures, particularly in some of the poorer countries,  you know that living life slowly or simply isn't necessarily a detriment. Families who have few resources, a smattering of things to entertain and whose meals may last for hours are often some of the happiest people on earth.  And if they are facing challenges and times of despair, it's usually because of their terrible conditions or a recent catastrophe not because they have so little to keep them occupied.

Living life faster rarely makes us happier. If anything, it only adds more stress, worry and a diluting of our relationships. Yes, we live in a fast-paced society but there are some things we can do to slow the pace for our family.

First, take inventory of how many things you're attending, participating in and committed to. Are they all really worthy it?  Have they become "doable hard" or "destructive hard?"  There's a difference.  Are some of our activities stealing from our time together, rest and well-being?  Ask yourself not only, "How much is this costing us financially?"  But ponder, "How much is this costing us emotionally and personally?"

Second, prioritize and then cut some things.  You'll have to do what you can to be fair and it's likely that your kids will be mad if one of the cuts involves them, but do it anyway. You're the parent and they are not. They'll survive and you might be surprised that in some cases they're actually happy about it while other times they will be relieved.

Third, determine some intentional connecting and just resting that you will use with your time.  Just filling your extra hours with more planned busyness wouldn't make much sense.  However,  part of the goal is to get some meaningful moments together so think of what you might do to connect. Perhaps it's just spending a little more time at the dinner table. Maybe you can do something around the house that you can all contribute to.  But also don't hesitate to just give everyone a breather.

Finally, consider doing something that would serve others. Having a needy couple, single or family over could be a starting place that would still keep you at home. But if it's not too demanding, go together and help out a neighbor, friend or relative. Giving instead of taking is always a great teaching opportunity and takes the attention off yourselves.

Whatever you decide, do what you can to slow life down. The choices each family makes will be unique to their situation, interests and location. But I'm pretty confident that a few significant attempts to reduce your family's miles per hour will likely have you feelin' groovy.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. A few years back we had several meals in a cafe near Miami that was frequented by Cuban immigrants. We loved watching the extended families have a long, slow meal. They were well into it when we arrived, and still going strong an hour later. They talked and laughter, the kids played under and around the tables, and every so often someone ordered food that was shared by all.

    Those folks had something our culture has lost, and we are poorer for it.

  2. Paul,

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing it. I hope others will follow your lead. Merry Christmas.