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The Slow Family Project

One family's journey to slow down.

The Corporate Ladder still exists

It’s been nearly a decade and a half now, since I started at the bottom of the “career” totem pole. A receptionist at a front desk in a little multi media company. Answering the phone. Making coffee for an asshole. Ordering office supplies. Doing other peoples jobs and them taking credit. I’ve followed in my Mothers, my Aunts, my Grandmothers footsteps. All career women, dating back to the early 30’s (in my grandmothers case). I’ve climbed my own version of the corporate ladder. Yes, there still is a corporate ladder. It’s not just something we talked about in the 80’s. There are still ladders to climb out there, some of them just aren’t as long. There is less of the “lifer” mentality, but we can still climb on, jumping from place to place. I produce film.

Daycare

Since having our first daughter about 2 1/2 years ago, I’ve been back to work for 1 1/2 of those years. She went into daycare at about 1 part time, and until the end of the coming month, will stay in her program. She loves going to “school” and to be perfectly honest, I had dreaded being the parent that put their child in daycare, but she has absolutely blossomed there. She has had the opportunity, in my humble observations, to experience much more “educational” type stimuli than I could have ever imagined, or planned for had I been a stay at home mom. From one day to the next, there is not one activity that is the same. Today, they had a baby chick in the classroom. Tomorrow, they will make lemonade. It’s wonderful. It’s…well, not though, what I had envisioned the formative years of her life to be. But it has been ok.

But there are days. Like today. She clung to me, crying. She wanted me to hold her. Some may say this is a tactic. A plot for sympathy. That she should toughen up and I shouldn’t give in. As the educator nearly rips her off of me crying, to re-assure her and distract her, I leave. For another day. I try, all the way to work, to just listen to the next song on the radio.

Exit strategy

My mom tells me that this is what she went through with us. That this is normal. For some reason I just don’t buy all this. Why does it have to be this way? It feels so unnatural to me. Drop kid off. Pick kid up. Drop kid off, pick kid up. Leave work early just to sneak that extra half hour into the 10-hours per week I see her. And my husband. What about my husband, my best friend. That guy that I see in passing. That I snap up 5 minutes with during that window between when I walk in the door to when I sit down to eat.

So it’s been a long time coming and we have had the opportunity to plan for this for about a year. What will be my exit strategy?

What scares you about changing your life and how do you overcome this?

The Grind

Is this you?: Wake, 5am. Well, not you. Your toddlers. Your heart races. You haven’t packed their lunch, the laundry from the night before is still sitting in the wash bin, probably collecting mildew by now. Your work clothes are sitting in a pile, un-ironed in the laundry room. You yourself don’t have a lunch packed for work. There isn’t gas in the car. It’s 7am. You’ve managed to take a sip. A sip. Of cold coffee. You turn on Sesame Street, make some cereal for the little one, hop in the shower and attempt to make yourself look half decent for work, while the clothes iron warms. Iron. Dress the children. Pack the lunch. Collect the days necessities and you are off. Drop off child. Traffic for an hour. Blackberry buzzing. Ringing. Buzzing. Ringing.

It’s been 4 hours since you woke to this day and you are done.

Despite this, you go full steam ahead into this day.

How did we get here?

The reality is, in today’s economy we must work. And now, not only do we just need to work, we must out-do ourselves to keep our work, there’s competition now. We must work, to survive. Not live. Survive.  And most of the time, life as we know it, has passed us by, in the blink of an eye.

We are over-consuming. We are marching like soldiers to the beat of technology. In peer groups, we find ourselves constantly trying to measure up and in some cases, one-up each other. We are over-researched, sometimes over-calculated. We are hovering over our children like they are porcelain ornaments. We are tired. Some are ashamedly depressed. We are hiding underneath the veil of what seems to be a perfect life: a big house, a couple cars. A big mortgage. A lot of debt. But for what?

The Crash

So last year trying to keep up, in a mountain of debt, marching along (actually light-speed sprint in a hamster wheel), we found ourselves, as a six figure dual-income home, in the midst of a world financial crisis, unable to turn on the heat. Shocking, you think? For us, this was the tipping point. I’m surprised we made it through without a) a divorce, b) a critical illness or heart attack or c) a foreclosure. But we made it. We made it as a team; as a family.


And so this is why.

I am here today. To pause the treadmill mid-run. To change my lifestyle.

It is my hope that others will join me in my quest to change.

I am curious about living a more authentic, back to basics, slower life.

Join me!

How do you find ways to slow down with your family?

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