Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World (Facebook) is the title of a new book by Susan Sachs Lipman. I am familiar with Susan as she is behind all the social media efforts of the Children & Nature Network (Facebook/Twitter). I have retweeted many a tweet of hers all in the name of #playoutdoors. What is her book about? Simply put, Fed Up with Frenzy offers many ways for parents to better connect with their families by slowing down. Daily lives of parents and their children are increasingly hectic, chaotic affairs, the whole day planned out to the minute, children whisked from one organized activity (team sports, music lessons, martial arts, etc.) to the next, and today children are not being given the opportunity to play freely. Life does not have to be a frenzy.
Susan describes the many benefits to slow parenting in her introduction, which also details her parenting of her daughter Anna and how she came to realize that they were just rushing through life and not enjoying the small moments. With the activites in this book, she hopes to “help your family regain a sense of connection, joy, and playfulness – and perhaps even discover or rediscover games or crafts from your own or your parents’ childhoods.”
While Susan discusses activities that are varied – games, crafts, cooking, travel, etc. – my main interest in her book is with, of course, the chapters dealing with gardening and exploring nature. “Although we often want more time in nature, for our children, and perhaps ourselves, we sometimes don’t know where to begin or what to do once we get there.” She goes on to say how children can easily get bored in nature and that such time outdoors competes with electronic stimulation. Her suggestions for activities in nature are thus intended to stomp out that boredom and stimulate the senses and open up the wonder inherent in little brains. Here’s an example:
Web of Life
This is another powerful game that teaches kids about the interconnectedness of living things. We encoutered it on a school field trip to a vibrant marsh and have never forgotten it.
– Ball of strong, yarn, or twine
Players form a circle. The leader asks them to name a plant or animal that lives in the area. When someone names a plant or animal, he or she is handed the end of the ball of string. The leader then asks the group to name a living thing that depends on that first thing for its food or shelter. When someone names another plant or animal, the strong is unraveled and handed to that person. The game continues this way until everyone is holding the same piece of string. It can be very dramatic for everyone to realize that they are webbed together. Choose one of the players to illustrate what happens when there is change, such as when a tree burns down or an animal is eaten. Have that person pull his or her piece of strong to see its effect on all the others.
Slow tip: If people get stuck on what to say next, help them go backward or forward in the food and shelter chain. The bird eats the frog, the frog eats an ant, the ant crawls under a tree, the tree provides oxygen for the deer, and so on.
If you are a parent, this is a great book to have on the shelf and periodically consult; if you are friends with a parent, especially the rushed, chaotic type, Fed Up with Frenzy would make a great gift. Susan’s website Slow Family Online is also worth checking out, and she’s on Facebook and Twitter, too. Slow down, take a look – there are some great things in this book.
I have one copy of Fed Up with Frenzy to offer (courtesy the author). I want to know about a favorite activity of yours to connect with your children, or, if you don’t have one, what is something you think you could get out of this book, for yourself or your children? Enter by commenting on this post, or by emailing me directly (darwinsbulldog AT gmail DOT com), between now and midnight PST on Sunday, August 12th. I will select a winner randomly from all the entries. Good luck!
NOTE: I had intended to get this review and excerpt done on Sunday night (last night), but there was something going on that was not to be missed. For this, we slowed down, made some popcorn, and enjoyed an awesome human achievement from the comfortableness of our bed. Curious?
Hi Michael, Thank you so much for this very generous review of my book! I truly appreciate it. I’m so glad you shared the terrific “Web of Life” game and other ideas about slowing. I’m also thrilled that you and your family slowed down last night and took the time for shared wonder and awe. What could be more important? Thanks again.
Hi Michael. One of my favorite slow down games with my son is to use our fingers to write words or draw pictures on the other one’s back. So, I might write, “I love you” on Gavin’s back and he has to determine, by focusing on the way it feels, what I wrote. Then he might draw a dragon on my back and I must figure out what it is. It is a simple game that necessitates a quiet mind and the ability to just focus on the tactile sensations. I also enjoy that it allows for us to share some time being in close proximity. He seems to enjoy the mystery of it! 🙂
My favorite way to slow down with the family is to take a walk through the neighborhood. We notice all the changes in the animals and plants through the seasons and we get a chance to catch up with the neighbors.
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I am such a Type A personality and my boys are so energetic that I have to consciously only do one thing at a time and connect with my kiddos. I could use some ideas, even though we connect while hiking or fishing. It would be nice to connect in a different, calm and planned way!
I live to get on my stomach with my kids and see what lives on the ground in the woods. I don’t like picking off ticks after though!!
We love going on nature walks in our neighborhood and this summer we’ve been fortunate enough to have a doe and two fawns grazing in our backyard. For a time, the mama even parked the babies in a downed tree in the middle of the yard. There were several days when we got to sit on the back porch, watching them, watching us.
We love going to Jackson Bottom Wetlands (or other natural areas) and bird watching. Lots of conversations, quiet times together, long walks, learning, appreciation of nature… Just being present together.
Lynda, you are the winner!