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The Slow Parenting Movement - An introduction

The Slow Parenting Movement - An introduction

by Karen Rewcastle October 23, 2018

Forever rushing around? Not enough hours in the day? Are you over the frantic frenzy of life? Perhaps Slow Parenting holds the key to finding the holy grail we all seem to seek....a quality life with more time and balance.  



What is Slow Parenting?


Carl Honore first coined the phrase in his book, ‘Under Pressure’ in 2008. Slow parenting, in a nutshell, is all about letting children live slower-paced and simpler lives, so they can discover the world at their own pace.

It’s about stepping back to allow kids to work things out for themselves, play freely, and not rely too much on instruction from others.

It’s about slowing down to find time to enjoy the magical moments childhood offers and seeing the value of making meaningful connections rather than focusing on consumer goods and services.


Let children discover the world at their own pace


Boy walking ahead alone - Slow Parenting - letting your child discover the world at their own pace


Why is Slow Parenting becoming ‘a thing’?


Word of mouth

Slow Parenting (also called Simplicity Parenting) has rapidly gained popularity in recent years. A plethora of popular books, blogs and podcasts generated a conversation on the topic. The outcome - more and more people are opting into the concept of slow and simple.

A reaction to fast

Slow Parenting is a reaction to our fast-paced lives. Both parents work in most New Zealand families. The working week is long - the 40 hour working week seems to be a thing of the past. We have less opportunity to switch off due to smartphones and IPads. Commuting times are longer.

Our children may attend numerous extra-curricular activities. Not to mention we still need to perform our household duties and take care of our children - wash them, feed them, educate them, make them feel loved!

It’s no wonder many families are left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and like their lives are in constant chaos.


Many families are left feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and like their lives are in constant chaos


A reaction to the 'Helicopter Parent'

Foster Cline and Jim Fay first coined the phrase ‘Helicopter Parent’ in 1990 to describe mothers and fathers who were “over-involved” in their children's lives. They over-schedule their children in activities and involve themselves in all aspects of their child's life, hoping to give their child the greatest chance to be the best they can be.

Whilst Helicopter Parenting comes from a good place many experts now argue that this approach puts too much pressure on a child. It also doesn't give kids the time and space they need to work things out for themselves, or to find out who they are.

It had also been suggested that Helicopter Parents, drained by their mammoth efforts, miss opportunities to slow down and simply connect with their children in intimate and meaningful ways.

Little boys explores a map - Helicopter Parenting does not give kids the space they need to work things out for themselves


Helicopter Parenting doesn't give kids the time and space they need to work things out for themselves


The benefits of Slow Parenting


Supporters of Slow Parenting say it takes the stress out of parenting, that their child's experience of growing up is a calmer, more positive and connected experience. They enjoy savoring special times with their children. They say that by stepping back, to allow their kids to have free time and free play, their children are developing skills such as self-direction, innovation and creativity. 

Parent sits back on a beach to watch her child play freely - Slow Parenting

Take the stress out of parenting

Slow Parenting - Inspiration from times gone by?


The idea of a family living simply and slowly is not a modern conception. If anything, in days gone by, it was perhaps the norm. At some point, perhaps among the greed of the 1980's or the conspicuous consumption in the 90's, this lifestyle seemed to be replaced. However, many people in today’s society are now wondering why this happened and what was the cost?



Slow Parenting - Is it for you? 


A decade ago Slow Parenting was seen as an alternative parenting approach. Today its fundamental ideas seemed to have entered mainstream psyche. Parents are cutting back on plastic toys and no longer scheduling numerous co-curricular activities. Playing with wooden toys, nature play and simply hanging out as a family are now desired pass times.

The ever-increasing pace of life and the integration of technology in our day-to-day existence means people unplugging and choosing time, and meaningful connections and experiences, over acquiring wealth and material goods.

Environmental issues has also led to an understanding that less is more and future-focused educators point to a new skill set for the future generation - one that requires self-direction, innovation and creativity. 

If you like the idea of recapturing a slower, simpler existence adapted for 21st century living then maybe trying out some of the ideas behind Slow Parenting appeals? 

A family slowing down to sit in nature and spend quality time together  - a Slow Parenting approach

How To Be A 'Slow Down' Parent - The ABC of Slow Parenting

A - Activities 


Slow down family life by reducing the amount of scheduled actvties for your children. 


 B - Buy Less


To be able to work less and slow down your life decrease your financial demands by turning your back on excessive consumerism


C - Connection


Slow down so you can spend more time connecting with others. Show an interest in and gain an understanding of others people's lives, your community, your culture and the world in general to be able to make meaningful connections.


D - Decision Making


Step back and allow your child to make some of their own decisions.


E - Explore


Give your child the time and space to explore their world at their own pace.


F - Family & Friends


Slow down and spend more time with family and friends, embrace your relationships with these special people and recognize how important they are.


G - Go Outside


Encourage your kids to simply go outside and play, to make their own fun, to play with others.


H - Happy


Slow down, relax, fill your house with fun and laughter.

I - Idle


Be an idle parent, leave your kids alone, don't feel guilty about putting your feet up.

J - Just sit there


Slow down, be in the moment, be in the present. Don't think about yesterday or tomorrow. Just sit, be, see and feel the world around you.

K - Kick up leaves


Slow down, spend more time as a family outside, embracing nature and feeling connected to the world in general.


A little boy enjoys connects with nature by playing with leaves - nature play - a Slow Parenting idea


L - Love and laughter


Slow down, enjoy life, work out what really matters.

M - Make things


Give your child simple materials to play with and watch them imagine, create and enjoy.

N - No!


Slow down, learn to say no more often so you can say yes to family time.

O - Obstacles


Let children overcome some of their own problems.

P - Play Pretend


Encourage your child to use their imaginations rather than give them too many toys that do the work for them.

Q - Quit striving for perfection


Slow down, reconsider your to do list, embrace mess. Don't push towards an imagined, perfect future but love the moment your in, be grateful for what you have right now.  

R - Risks


Let your children take some risks and learn from their mistakes.


A parent and her child stand slightly apart on two cliffs. The parent is allowing the child to take some risks as advocated by the Slow Parenting movement


S - Sense of Identity


Give your child the time and space to work out who they are, not what you want them to be. Celebrate their uniqueness.

T - Time


Slow down, work less, remember time is more important than money.

U - Unplug From Technology


Let your child to play more naturally, restrict the time spent watching TV and using other technologies. Or unplug from technology all together.

V - Vanquish your inner critic


the one who thinks you need to be doing more to 'succeed'. You will never satisfy her. So don't even try. Instead reconsider your definition of success.

W - Work Less.


Spend Less. Live More.

X - eXpectations


don’t place impossible expectations on your child, they are not a trophy or a project, they are themselves, give them enough comfort to be themselves and watch them fly.

Y - You, in the here and now


Enjoy (and it's ok to enjoy yourself and do things for you, guilt free!)

Z - Zzzzzzzzz


Slow down, take every chance you have. Lie in bed, have a nap, guilt free! We are all happier when we are not tired. It's not just babies who get grizzly.


Parents and a child all take a rest,have a sleep, slow down, relax in a bed together as encouraged by the Slow Parenting Movement.



How can Snail Mail Stories help parents to slow down?


Snail Mail Stories was born out of the desire of a busy mother to find a way to slow down once in a while and enjoy spending quality time and making a meaningful connection with her daughter.

She saw how excited her child got when she received an envelope in the post one morning. Such a simple thing, and yet - the envelope prompted them to stop what they were doing to snuggle up and explore the contents together - a mini adventure. The value of introducing snail mail into a child’s life was realised. 

Our monthly envelopes are delivered to your door and contain all the bits and bobs your child needs for their mini adventure. Receiving our envelopes prompt whanau to slow down and connect.

Our open-ended, hands-on questions, crafts and activities encourage kids to unplug and discover the world around them, in their own way, at their own pace. Our nature-based themes, plastic free contents and focus on up-cycling teaches kids to learn and play in a sustainable way. We foster a love of reading and writing and our two-way pen pal service adds a meaningful and personal touch.

Tempted to give Slow Parenting a try? If so good luck in your new adventure! 

Check out our latest envelope. 

Karen Rewcastle
Karen Rewcastle


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