A guest post by Danielle Chassin
Hello, my name is Danielle Chassin, you might know me from my blog Hippie in Disguise, where I talk about slow, eco, minimal living, or from my Instagram account @hippieindisguise, where I share photos of my children enjoying themselves and making creative projects out in nature. We like to fill our weekends with slow, intentional time in the beautiful outdoors. We often spend entire days walking around our beautiful city, discovering hidden pathways and trails along the river, or meandering from park to another.
I get asked a lot about slow living and minimalism and how I bring these to life in our family. Well, first I should probably tell you that most of my week is anything but slow. I work full time outside the home in a very hectic job. I work in politics in Canada and not only are the days hustled, they are highly unpredictable, chock full of emotional people and high stakes situations. I am a naturally calm person, people often describe me as “zen,” which is probably why I’ve survived in my job. However, after working in this environment for a few years I started to notice that I carried that hustled, stressed energy home with me. I would furiously clean and tidy all evening, I would speedily move from one task to another, and multi-tasking was the only way I did anything. On the weekends I would hustle around doing errands, taking the children to a list of activities and catching up on my social calendar. I couldn’t seem to find a slo-mo setting.
When it finally hit me one day that I never slowed down, that, ironically, I did so much and yet never really felt like I accomplished anything, and that, worst of all, I desperately missed my children despite spending every second of the weekends with them, I realized something had to change. Going fast wasn’t working. So, I decided to go slow.
At the time I hadn’t heard the term ‘slow living’ or ‘minimal living.’ But I knew intuitively what our family needed. We needed quality time together, we needed to do less, so that the things we did we could do wholeheartedly, with presence, and not rush through them to get to the next thing on our itinerary. We needed to take things slowly, to be able savour the moment, savour the weekend, savour our lives. So that’s what we started doing.
How did we do this? First, I had to let go of a few things -- I reduced the quantity -- so that I could increase the quality of other things. So, I stopped obsessing over having a tidy house and chores done at all times. I limited the number of weekend activities for my children to one: one party, one lesson. Similarly, I limited myself to one social engagement. I didn’t let errands dictate my weekend, if they didn’t get done then they could wait.
Next, I increased the quality of what we were doing. Choosing activities that we could all enjoy together, interesting activities that were creative, adventurous, and primarily outdoors. Something that really made a difference was allowing activities to run their natural course in terms of duration. So, with only having one activity on Saturday we could take as long as we wanted to get there and back home, and we could stay as long as we wanted. This meant we could spend 90 minutes walking to ballet class and three hours walking home, enjoying our travels, climbing trees, stopping for a tea and treats, because we had time. We started enjoying the walks as much, and in some cases more, than the destinations. Later on, the walks became the destination. We started calling them urban adventures and the children looked forward to slow wanders around town. Our walks have become a family ritual of sorts. We are never sure how and sometimes where we will end up, but I’m sure these pedestrian adventures will form a happy part of their childhood memories. Despite living in the core downtown of our city we have discovered some gorgeous hidden spots, all because we gave ourselves time to wander.
It turns out taking it slowly has been immensely satisfying for both me and the children. They can enjoy life at an organic pace and I can feel more present with them when I’m not concerned about when our next activity starts or the stuff I need to pick up on the way there. Moreover, it’s great that my children have learned that they can be thoroughly engaged in life, full of energy and curiosity, while doing something simple, outdoors, uncurated and free. Simple, minimalist fun.
Most importantly, spending most of our time outdoors, in a natural setting, we are keeping our impact on the earth light, developing a deeper connection to the earth, and fostering a sense of protection and compassion for the earth and its inhabitants. All this while making memories, strengthening our family bonds, and enjoying that slo-mo vibe.
You can find Danielle here: