The world is a busy place. I think I only really realised just how busy when in the first lockdown the roads and the streets became so eerily quiet. It was quite a shock when almost overnight the roar of the traffic subsided, the drone of the planes was no more and suddenly the birds were no longer competing with our hectic, noisy world just to be heard. To stand outside and just experience the silence was a magical yet slightly unusual feeling, perhaps even a little disturbing. This had never happened before and our society was really not used to this.
We have, in many ways, been forced to slow down this year. We haven’t been able to travel in the same ways, we’ve spent more time at home and generally our movements have been much more local. People have explored their local areas, finding previously undiscovered footpaths and byways on their doorsteps, venturing onto cycle paths or quiet lanes and generally uncovering hidden gems. I’ve always been a big fan of the Ordnance Survey, in particular the app. It’s utterly brilliant as there are seemingly endless possibilities of paths for a walk. During the lockdowns it has really helped me appreciate the world on my doorstep and reinforced that I don’t need to travel far to uncover some truly outstanding parts of the British countryside.
Life in the slow lane can be a really good thing. Changing gear every so often benefits us in so many different ways. We want our children to enjoy their time at school and part of that must be a chance to take stock, have space and to think. Giving the children the chance to be ‘bored’ leads to creativity, new ideas and builds their resilience. If we fill every minute of every day we are merely creating very busy children who need stimulation all the time to feel fulfilled. Slowing down is, in itself, very fulfilling, even if we don’t necessarily see it at the time.
One of the best holidays we ever had as a family was camping in France. Firstly, the weather was good – as we all know this is incredibly helpful in a life under canvas. Secondly, we were on a large sprawling, semi-wild campsite in the Cevennes. The landscape was magnificent and the sights, sounds and smells truly wonderful. Thirdly, we were, on the whole, without any technology and the children were content with a book, exploring the wilderness or just chatting together making up games. Everything just had to slow down. Washing up meant walking 5 minutes to the block, filling up water was at least twice daily requirement and having a shower needed a little more planning. Everything about that holiday helped us to slow down. We were forced to change our habits, our rituals and appreciate the world around us just that little bit more. Normal everyday tasks had to be thought through and with the changing rhythm we were left feeling refreshed in a way that we hadn’t before.
As we emerge once more from a lockdown it’s so easy to crave a previous life that we look at through rose-tinted glasses. We can easily drift back to ‘normality’ with the days becoming busier and all the old ways creeping back in. Wouldn’t it be good if we treasured those moments of slowing down, if we kept up new habits? It has been a very challenging year for our children and it is our responsibility to support them as they make that transition back into school once again. We want to help them cherish what is good, to hold onto what they have learnt and keep on discovering the huge benefits of sometimes choosing to live life in the slow lane.