I started practicing slow living as a busy mom in the suburbs. Here is a quick breakdown of how I apply a slow living lifestyle every day.

How I Started Slow Living as a Busy Mom in the Suburbs

Something I’ve noticed, when I look at slow living content on social media, is that most of it centers around living in a tranquil cottage in the middle of the woods. While I’m happy to bask in the scenery and sounds of a crackling fire, I couldn’t help but feel like this didn’t apply to my life. Slow living is something I had been craving in my life for some time, and I wanted to find ways to do it right where I was–in the middle of the suburbs. Don’t get me wrong, I love the notion of disappearing into the mountains and having nature as my daily backdrop, however, that just doesn’t match up with my current stage in life. Rather than put off slow living for some other day, I decided to find ways to incorporate it into my life in the suburbs. Here’s how.

*The following is a summary blog post taken from the transcript from episode 103 of the Unstuffed Podcast

Click here to listen to this post

Getting a glimpse of slow living

Long before slow living was a modernized movement with a name, I started to crave it, after listening to the late Wayne Dyer talk about his typical day strolling the beach on Maui. I would roll my eyes whenever I listened to his advice because it didn’t feel possible for me.

While most of his advice changed my life, some of it felt out of reach. For example, whenever he found himself stressed, he would take off his shoes and walk barefoot outside. First of all, the Minnesota winters would have made this awfully unenjoyable, and what was I supposed to do with my 3- and 4-year-olds while I was prancing around outside in my bare toes?

I longed for a life similar to his, but I realized some tweaks need to be made between the lifestyles of a young mom and a 70-year-old man. If you want all the straightforward answers as to how I’ve cleared clutter and simplified my life, I’ve put it all into an eBook called The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go.

Making slow living possible

For a while, I believed my life circumstances simply wouldn’t allow for slow living. I think that’s easy for any of us to do. Instead of finding ways to make slow living happen, we start making up excuses as to why it can’t.

Things like:

  • I’m too busy
  • My work schedule won’t allow it
  • Kids won’t allow me to slow down
  • There is no nature around me

If these thoughts are running through your mind, believe me, I get it. They went through my mind too. However, I was getting tired of playing victim to my circumstances and wanted to at least try designing a slow lived life that I could enjoy. After all, time with my kids was fleeting, and I wanted to be able to be more present with them before it was all over.

Basically, I needed to make the time to slow down.

Step 1: Create Space

The first step that stands in the way of so many moms is simply that we don’t have enough time or energy to slow down. If we look at the short list of reasons, I bet yours would look very similar to mine:

  • I am always cleaning
  • Someone has to make all the meals
  • Toys are everywhere and I have to pick them up
  • I’m running everyone to different places all day long
  • I have to get work done
  • I’m so busy

After making a mental list similar to this in my head, I decided to take control of the things that were within my control. I started with the clutter. Read: Are Slow Living and Minimalism the Same Thing?

Decluttered closet = slow lived morning

Did you know that when we wake up in the morning, our brains seek pattern recognition as a way to think less? You know how you can sometimes make the last few turns into your driveway without thinking about it? That’s because your brain recognizes the pattern, therefore no longer has to use up as much brain power to get you there.

This same concept holds true for our day-to-day routines. The simpler we make them, the less brain energy we have to exert. Waking up to clutter first thing in the morning can be an instant way to spike cortisol. That’s why one of the best places to start your slow living journey, I believe, is by decluttering your closet.

If you’re anything like me, you have continually gone to your closet to find an outfit for the day, only to hate everything you try on. You tear clothes off, throw them on the floor, and immediately head off into your day feeling like you just fought a losing battle. Oh, and maybe you hate that reflection in the mirror so much more.

Instead of continuing to put up a fight with repeated wardrobe changes, I decided to eliminate anything from my closet that I didn’t consistently want to wear. I chose simple-to-put-together outfits that I already knew I liked and gave myself permission to wear them over and over again. Who says you can’t repeat outfits?

The following images are taken from my eBook, The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go where I talk about designing a “Hell Yes” closet.

Decluttered space = decluttered mind

I know we’ve all heard the same old saying that a clear space equals a clear mind. After beginning the process of decluttering my closet, I slowly started clearing through the rest of the house.

One common misconception about decluttering is that it is going to take up an entire weekend to get through all the clutter. The reality is, small intentional clutter-clearing sessions are more practical for most of us and make it more likely for us to continue to follow through. We have all gotten a sudden burst of cleaning energy, only to have it wear off halfway through our cleaning session, right?

There are a ton of ways to implement mini tidy sessions into your day. I share them all in The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go. However, one of my favorites is to simply have a declutter bin on hand at all times.

Designate a bin in your home and when you come across something you’re ready to donate, add it to the bin. This method allows you to go through your day-to-day life, while gradually reducing the amount of clutter in your home.

The more you go through the process of clearing clutter, including toy clutter, the more time and energy you create for yourself to slow down.

Step 2: Start saying “No”

Whether you need to start saying “No” to other people, setting boundaries with different work routines, or simply saying “No” to the unrealistic expectations of your own mind, learning to say “No” is a total game-changer.

Setting boundaries around your time and energy is another way for you to begin taking back your life, one step at a time. Remember, the name of the game is creating more time, in order to allow yourself to slow down more.

I started saying “No” to anything that gave me a feeling of resistance in my gut. In some cases, this meant turning down coffee dates with friends or photography clients, or even making dinner at the end of a day that already felt extremely busy.

Step 3: Embracing imperfection

I can’t tell you how many times I talked myself out of dong something, simply because the idea of how it had to be done, in my mind, felt overwhelming. In my head, going to the gym meant I was going to sweat and get tired. Cleaning my house meant the same thing.

Instead of putting so much pressure on myself for the things I had to do, I started letting myself off the hook and accepting imperfection. I made little “half-ass” rules for myself that actually allowed me to get more done, in less time, without the stress. Here are some of the rules I set:

  • Gym Rules: 20 minutes. No sweat necessary. Just move however you want to.
  • Dinner Rules: One veggie. Doesn’t have to be fresh. Simple recipes are okay.
  • Cleaning Rules: Just clean off the counter tops. Clean up messes when you see them, then move on.

Applying these simple shifts to my mind helped me to create a feeling of slowing down in my brain and allowed me to tackle a lot of my day-to-day tasks in a healthier manner.

Step 4: Mindful presence

One of the best things I did to allow myself to slow down and be more intentional was simply learning to pause my favorite moments throughout the day. That’s what all moms want after all, right?

What I mean by pausing my favorite moments is that, whenever I found myself in the middle of an experience I wanted to remember, I would take a deep breath, and take everything in. This was usually during naptime with my little ones. I would have one kid asleep on each side of me, with the rest of the house quiet, and it all felt so magical. There was a never a moment throughout the day that I felt more gratitude than in those moments.

By taking a deep breath and taking in all the sights and sounds around me, I gave myself a feeling of prolonging the moment. Even now, almost 10 years later, I can still close my eyes and remember those moments on that bed, in that house, and my heart thinks I’m there again. It’s wonderful.

Not only does this method allow me to escape back into those moments, but it helped me slow down and be more present with my little ones all those years ago.

Step 5: Add slow living into your routines

After going through the process of creating space, time, and energy for slowing down, all that was left to do was to begin incorporating little slow lived moments into my day. Of course, my days still remained busy in many ways, which is why I had to intentionally choose not to fill up the empty moments I had managed to steal.

Instead of scrolling my phone in the morning, I swapped it for morning journaling or reading. When sipping my morning coffee, I worked to also take slow, deep breaths while breathing in the smell of the coffee. Did you know this is a mindfulness exercise? Instead of running through my to-do list, I worked to be comfortable just sitting and sipping my coffee. Now, let’s be real, this doesn’t happen every day. However, it happens most days, and I’m okay with that.

Lastly, one of my favorite ways that I’ve begun incorporating slow living is by stealing little moments of downtime during the chaos. Moments like when my husband and I take a quick date night at the pizza place, next door to our daughter’s karate class, or reading a book while I wait in the car for my son to finish his guitar lessons. I won’t lie, sometimes I end up sneaking in some work, but for the most part, I aim to take full advantage of this time in a way that feels peaceful and aligned with the slow living life I envision for myself.

Conclusion: A Journey Towards Intentional Living

Embracing slow living amidst the chaos of suburban life wasn’t easy. I had to let go of a lot of society’s ideas around what success looks like. I also had to work to get out of my own head that believed I was only worthwhile if I was busy. Through intentional decluttering, setting boundaries, and prioritizing mindfulness, I’ve discovered that slowness isn’t just a lifestyle choice—it’s a profound mindset shift that has enriched my daily experiences and deepened my connection to myself and those around me.

As you navigate your own journey towards slow living, remember that it’s not about perfection—it’s about embracing the process, one mindful step at a time. By prioritizing presence over productivity and simplicity over excess, you too can cultivate a life filled with meaning, joy, and authenticity, right where you are.

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I started practicing slow living as a busy mom in the suburbs. Here is a quick breakdown of how I apply a slow living lifestyle every day.

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