Slow Living: Lessons I Learned from My Parents

In one week, my mom will join my dad in retirement. She has worked at the same company for 32 years–my age–and is looking forward to the next chapter of life. Although there will certainly be more opportunities for slow, quiet living in retirement, my parents have been modeling this kind of lifestyle for as long as I can remember.

When I was growing up, my parents could often be found sitting in lawn chairs in our driveway, decompressing after a day of work or enjoying a weekend afternoon. There may or may not have been music playing, and they may or may not have been enjoying a beer or glass of wine. No matter what the details may have been, what I remember about this frequent scene of my childhood was that my parents knew how to slow down and simply be.

Both of my parents worked full-time, outside of the home. They also raised two kids, took care of ailing family members, maintained a home, and juggled a myriad of other responsibilities. And yet…

I can’t remember them ever being “busy.” Rush was simply not a part of my childhood. There was never yelling to get in the car, to move faster, to hurry up. My brother and I participated in extracurricular activities, like sports and music lessons, and we were always on time, ready to get started, sans panic.

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My dad and me.

Recently I’ve been reading books and listening to podcasts about slow living. It’s been a hell of a semester, with 11-hour work days and way too much driving. So, it makes sense that while I am rushing from one place to another, from one task to another, I am drawn toward minimalism, essentialism, and slow living.

But, the more I think about it, slow living is coming home for me. My parents lived “less is more.” As an introvert, I thrived in this quiet, calm, knowable environment. Now that I am a parent, I want to recreate that same environment for my daughter (and for me as well).

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My mom, me, and my daughter, Abigail.

I am truly grateful for the lessons I learned from my parents, including how to take care of business but also how to slow down, enjoy the quiet, and just be. My hope is that in 30 years my daughter can look back at her childhood with the same appreciation I have for my parents and the life they created for us.

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