slow living with children


You’re either reading this because 1. you’re really interested in how to make this work or 2. you’re here wondering what the heck I’m talking about because you’ve seen me & my husband running around chasing crazy babies and stopping them from killing themselves and throwing food on restaurants. Either way, keep on reading.

I need to admit that slow living and children might sound really strange, at least from my perspective having two babies under the age of two. There isn’t much “slow” in our every day except perhaps when making us ready to go somewhere.

Here's the thing, as adults we often have a low tolerance for our kids to be bored. You read it right, I'm not talking about our own tolerance for boredom. We really want our kids to be happy and as a result of that we often fill upp free time with classes, practices and screen time, because when our kids are bored they complain and they whine.

Perhaps it begun before we became parents already, the idealizing of the time spent with family. It is the real culprit because it makes us feel like we aren't measuring up. After what might have felt like a couple of "failed" family outings with your kids throwing food everywhere, a visit at a friend's where your children broke at least two and a half things, your child going through a new leap or a period of defiance, or after an ordinary day with the babies being overly tired, not synced when it comes to napping and are having a generally bad day, you might be totally convinced that your kids simply CAN NOT soak up the concept of slow living like you imagined.

A little child’s life is nothing like the structured & controlled lifestyle you were able to have before you became a parent. They are learning how to communicate - without and with words. They are learning how to walk. They start to explore the world, and they definitely do not have a lot of impulse control. They throw tantrums at inconvinent times and they struggle with sitting still at cafés and restaurants. This is hard work for a brand new human!

We hold on to a vision of a picture perfect variation of life that is so far from what family life should really look like and because of that we become unhappy. We're holding on to something so different than the imperfect & amazing life we are blessed to access.

So let me tell you about the essence of slow living and perhaps you’ll agree with me - that it actually is possible to embrace the lifestyle with babies in your life.

The essence is simply being there for life. It’s the building of a more sustainable every-day were relationships and being in tune with yourself is weighing more than chasing for efficiency at the cost of sanity and relationships, it’s less quick fixes and less technology overwhelm. It's taking your kids on fewer dance and soccer practices and more playing in the park and dancing in the livingroom. It's clearing out our schedules for more freedom, a life with fewer obligations and more flexibility. It’s learning how to be with your children in more loving, supportive and patient ways. It’s changing your view of little people being difficult and realizing they are perhaps just misunderstood little humans that need guidance.

It will will never be perfect, but if you allow it, this will be the happiest time of your life.

Slow living with kids is being present in their lives and in your own as much as you can. Babies and toddlers already live in the present moment. Learn from it and join them.

Slow living is low tech and more intentional. Slow living with kids is the best way to enjoy their childhood. There will be laughs, there will be hugs, there will be times where you run and there will be times when you get to drink you coffee warm. There will be times where you hold conversations solely by looking into your childrens' eyes and there will be times where you and your husband will laugh yourselves through a chaotic hotel stay-over.

By dropping our unrealistic idealizations of what life with small children should look like and by freeing up more time on our calendars, we can live a slower paced life and make time for the most important things - our babies, life partners and all other relationships, you totally included.

raising multilingual bebé

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
- Charlemagne

I’m a Boricua de Suecia. I talk Swedish, write + partially think in English and wish I was better at Spanish. My native language is Swedish in which I am fluent, but my mother tongue are English and Boricua Spanish and as a kid I was (actively) taught neither of the latter.

I think, the gift of language is one of the greatest and most precious gifts we can give our children. I have to admit not being passed on my mother tongue makes me frustrated to this day, however, since ethnicity & culture are such important parts of my life and identity (in the making) I have taken it upon myself to become fluent in both so I one day can pass on these languages to my own babies.

I want my kids to be brought up in a multicultural home where they will be part of both their parents' cultural identities. I want them to be able to understand me when I read them bedtime stories in all three languages; to ask for abuela or titi; to sing Barney’s “I love you” as good as “Det lilla ljus jag har”; to see their tiny little bodies joyfully move to the rhythms and beats of latino music, to say “Mira, mama!” when they proudly come to show me the fish they've caught and most importantly: I want them to grow up with enough multicultural goodness for them to apply & develop a cultural identity of their own.

I've shamelessly discussed this matter with a lot of wise human beings and been reading articles upon articles to see what thoughts and different perspectives there are on raising multilingual kids. What I've realized is that it's pretty much like raising kids in general - everybody have different opinions on what to do and you have to find, follow & create your own methods & ways that are good fit for your situation, family & little ones. Also, we all know there are situations that potentially could make it extra hard passing on language and culture to our kids, like being ill or not being the primary custodial parent making it hard or sometimes even imporrible to raise multilingual bebés full time. There's really no "one size fits all" and we can only do what we can do! 

The following is a little collection of a few of my favorite #multilingualbebe links; stuff that make me ponder + I find useful already and things I want to try out when the time comes. I hope you find them interesting and helpful!

How about this for a calm, loving and precious preparation for the soon arriving little one: exposing the baby with the language while it’s still unborn. (Spanglish Baby) LOVE THIS!

"In other words, as a direct result of my bilingual quest, I think I've ended up giving more of myself to them during their childhood. And this has no doubt deepened our bond." 
The very best thing about raising bilingual kids (Bilingual Monkeys)

The best (and longest!) list I've found so far with tips on raising multilingual children (Bilingual Monkeys)

Okay, this list might be my favorite too (Lazy Mom's Blog)

"How raising multilingual children made me a better person" (European Mama)

Making it a team effort if you have a partner (go team mom and dad!), playing and singing songs and setting up play dates are a few goodies from this article. (wikiHow)

An interesting article about how babies sort our language. (New York Times)

Bilingual mom Jeannette Kaplun shares her thoughts on raising bilingual kids (YouTube)

So, what does it really take to raise multilingual children? I guess that will remain an exciting mystery of theories & thoughts until I experience it myself.  However, what I think I can say now already without sounding completely ignorant is that I believe the most important thing you need to have when it comes to all this is the will (and ability!) to share your language with your bebecitos. Raising multilingual kids can be out of this world amazing and rewarding, but requires a lot of hard work and it would be a lie to say it doesn't come with lots of trials and tribulations too. The will to share the language and culture with your kids definitely has to be matter of the heart (or plain stubbornness, haha). 

I might not have been actively taught my mother tongue as a kid, but I most certainly inherited the love for these languages. Enough to have become fluent in English (at least when it comes to writing, my accent is a whole other story...), enough to have gone from only knowing how to say "caca", "mira, mira" "vamos" and "caramba" to know how to say "pass me the donuts" and "I'm on my period, can you please buy me some chocolate?" in Spanish (among other incredibly important phrases and words), and enough to have the determination to learn more so I one day can gift my own babies these idiomas de mi corazón. So...pase lo que pase, come what may! Whatever, I'm all in for this whole raising multilingual bebé thing! 

Are you raising, or planning to raise multilingual bebés? Are you a multilingual kid yourself? What problems are you facing and what advantages & victories have you experienced? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts!