5 Ways to Slow Down Your Life

I read an article this month that said, “Sometimes it seems as though my days have two speeds: hurried and breakneck.  Want to learn how to hop off the roller coaster?” and the article proceeded to tell me to read poetry to my child and dive underwater because time really slows down under water.  Love the reading poetry part, but still not sure how to implement the underwater part.  So I thought I would give some practical ways to slow down your life and really connect with your family:

5 Ways to Really Slow Down Your Life and Connect

eat dinner. even if it is late. as a family.

We have four children and there is not one weeknight that is a free night.  Mondays our daughter has Bible Study. Tuesdays all the kids are at Awana. Wednesday is youth group.  Thursday is our couples’ small group. Fridays and Saturdays are musical practice.   Just to write this makes my heart start to race wondering where we have to be at what time tomorrow.


But one place where we know we will be is at dinner.  This tip is coming straight from my childhood where we would often eat a later dinner in order to eat with my dad if he was working late.  I remember many dinners where we would sit around the table and my dad would go through each of my classes and ask me what I did.  It was a place where I felt safe and could share my thoughts.  I applaud my mom for making that such an important part of our days together.  And it is not just a feel good tip, but a crucial one for our children’s lives:  Children not eating dinner with their families are 61 percent more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs;  check out other statistics
 here.  So, even if you have to eat it late, make that commitment to eat together for most of your meals during the week.

Remember the days when you could be outside all day long with your friends, but when you heard that dinner bell, you ran home for dinner.  Dinner was the place where families could reconnect.  As a family.
By the way, we actually do have a bell to call the kids home from outside for dinner and Mike, my husband, will say that is one of the single best parenting things that I have implemented in our lives.  Hmm, maybe I should ask what the other ones are… 

play.  inside. outside. just play. together.

As a whole, we are not as busy as we think we are.  If you really measure the amount of time that an average child is in front of TVs or computers, you will see that a normal child has some free time, but parents are not using that time to get involved with their children’s lives and being interactive with them.  I do not mean just driving them around to the countless activities that fill each day.

I mean playing with your child.  In recent years, interactive TV has taken over interactive parenting.  Before this wonderful technology, parents had to be creative when there were not as many activities.

Now, please know that I am not bashing computers, computer games, or netflix.  I love a good family movie night just as much as the next gal.  What I am saying is that I think more parents, me included, need to get in there with the kids and play those games with the kids or play a board game, or take a walk together.

Again, my parents made games an important part of my growing up memories.  Whether it was playing Big Deal with my sister, playing matchbox cars with my brother, or even now, my parents playing the card game, War, with my children, games were vital to us staying close and enjoying our days together.

So we have recently implemented a screen free week.  Unless my children are using the computers for an educational activity, computer and TV screens are off during the week.  Fridays are okay for the occasional family movie night or even a Good Luck Charlie rerun, but besides that, I am trying to be more intentional with my time that we have as a family.

make sundays special.  together. 
Whether you are into keeping the Sabbath holy or just keeping it set apart for a family time, there needs to be one day that is set apart for restoring a sense of refreshment to your family.
For our family, that does not mean we do not do anything on a Sunday.  What it does mean is that we try to stay together as a family.  We might go to my daughter’s volleyball game or go to a nephew’s chess match.  The point is that we are together as a family.  Cheering each other on and making memories together.  
Remember when Leah had a ballet recital and the last group to dance was a bunch of older ladies who did a hip hop song wearing very inappropriate clothes?  Of course you don’t, because you were not there, but our whole family does remember that and we still talk about it today.  And it was hilarious!
give up one activity. as a family.
Our family has always had the rule to only have one extra activity in addition to church activities for each of my children. Using that rule, even if each child was only involved in one activity, we would still have 8 different activities that we needed to make time for in the week.  That does not even take into account that activities that my husband or myself are involved in as well.  Well, this year we broke that rule and like I said in the first paragraph, our days are no longer our own.  It is driving from one activity to another with no time to breathe.
We did not mean to do it.  We just slowly slipped into a super busy schedule.   We just did it.  And how can these kids be in two places at once?  How can my daughter?  It seems to be unheard of to miss a game, but are we sacrificing our families in order to not let the team down?  We are still working on what balance looks like in our family.  If you have any tips, please comment and let me know.   
All I do know is that over Christmas vacation, when the activities take a break, our family reconnects, enjoys each other, and looks forward to our time as a family.  I feel as a society, we have lost the whole concept of the family unit:  Dad takes son to baseball while mom takes daughter to soccer. Dad leaves baseball to pick up daughter because mom needs to leave to pick up other daughter.  No one ever gets to just sit and watch an activity as a family. I know having four children lends itself to a busier schedule, but I see parents of fewer children dealing with the same thing.
Is it possible to look at your schedule and give up something?  Even if your kids really enjoy something, is it best for the whole family?
And now, I am going back to one of the ideas from the article:
read. every. night. as a whole family.
Whether it it is poetry, the Bible, or your child’s reading book for school, take time to read everyday aloud to your child.  Even if they are older.  We read a higher level novel to the whole family every night while our kids are all tucked in. This is in addition to the picture books that we read.  It is a time of snuggling and cuddling.  A time when the clock really does seem to stop or at least slow down.  
To go to bed after reading of God’s promises of love and compassion is a way to refresh your child and the extra ten minutes that he might not get in sleep will not matter as he will be blessed by the promises and the meditations of God’s word that he will hold in his or her heart for years to come.
God wants us to slow down and enjoy all that he has given us.  By doing this, we will be refreshed as a family, possibly have more time to use for Him in serving or divine appointments, possibly enjoy dinner more, but for sure have the memories that will last for a lifetime.  Even if it is awkward dance attire!

Super Easy Cake Pops Equals Special




I love cooking with my kids!
I especially love baking with my kids!

I feel like it is not only a great learning time, but a great way to just spend some quality time together. A few Sundays ago, we decided to make cake pops.

My sister-in-law brought these yummy cake pops from Starbucks on a recent road trip. They were beautiful and just the fact that she brought them made us all feel special because they just looked so special!

Our family was going to a dinner with about five other families. I was in charge of the dessert. I thought cake pops would be the perfect dessert to make everyone feel loved and special!

I found out that making cake pops turned into a life lesson on making time.

First, here is an easy recipe and the pictures to go with it…

Ingredients:

*box of cake mix ( eggs, oil, and the stuff written on the box for this)
*frosting – flavor to match cake
*cake pop sticks ( get at any Jo-Anns or baking store)
*Melted Candy Wafers ( flavored or colored)

I put foil on the bottom of a cake pan for easy clean up.
(You will see later that it the only thing that stayed clean was the bottom of this pan!)


Next, bake a cake according to box directions.
You may certainly use a homemade cake, but the thought of crushing something that I made from scratch seems too painful too handle, so the box made cake was perfect.


Next cut up the cake into several big pieces and put them in a large bowl.


Here is what it looks like with Funfetti cake mix!
My daughter was in charge of this one.


This is the fun part!
Take about 3/4 of a can of frosting and mix it with the cake.
This is what helps it stick together.
Mash it with your hands to make a big ball.
You read right…with your hands.
It’s really the best way…

It will end up like a softball size of doughy cake.

And the chocolate ball will end up looking like…

poop… :)

Scoop out about a spoonful and make smaller balls of the
cake mixture.

Now, take those bags of melted candies and
put them in the microwave or melt them over the double boiler.

Follow the directions on the bag. I used the microwave. I also did not flavor them because I wanted the cake part to be the tasty part.

Now, this next part is important:
It is important to dip the sticks in the melted candy mixture and then shove
(Yes, shove…remember, I am doing this for a dessert that starts in 20 minutes!) them onto the cake pop. This will help the sticks to stay in the cake pops.

Here is a bowl showing the melted candy and the first dipping of the cake pop.
It takes a while to get the hand of it.

This is the part where you can be super creative.
A girlfriend of mine made the cutest animals.

Here are some examples of fun ideas:

And a perfect one for Father’s Day:

This one is for my Man and My Daddy!
You are my heroes!!!

Yes, I will try the Superman ones next. For now, these were my special desserts in hopes of making some friends feel cherished and special.

Now you might wonder why they are all not fully dipped.
Going back to the sweet wisdom of my daughter
who said it was okay just to have blank ones, I agreed.

The cake pops still tasted yummy yummy!


Yes, they were still yummy!

And here is what I was talking about when I said
the bottom of the pan was the only clean part:

Oh Yeah…That’s a whole lot of mess to clean up.

I usually do clean a little more during the process, but we were pressed for time ( who isn’t?!) and we had to focus on the preparation.

As I was trying to finish these quickly, a friend stopped by to say hello. I ran out of the house, barely having time to say hi, much less invite her in and visit with her.

We were also 20 minutes late for our dinner.

So, in all my attempts to make people feel special, I actually probably made one feel rushed and not listened to ( she said she understood…it was a drop by visit) and the whole group was fine as they had just started the meeting, yet I really wanted to make them feel special.

I realized that I need to make time for the special in my life. Not just try to pack it in quickly.

Make time for an extra bedtime story.

Make time to create a homemade card.
Make time to pull up the sheets for my bed and not just the blanket.

Make time to go to the grocery store for a fresh meal for my family.

What do you need to make time for today? I would love to know!

Enjoy the MOMents!

Blessings,
Angie

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