“Slowing down has made me a less anxious parent”

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By the time her son, Hawksley, was a couple months old, Raine Sillito was exhausted and overwhelmed. Something — maybe a lot of things — had to give.

After a few intense conversations with other moms, and with her partner, Neil, Raine (pronounced “rainy”) decided on a radical shift in her approach: slow down, cut back, and say no.

She cut back, for example, on worrying about social expectations, like being on time to events with an infant in tow, or expecting Hawksley to behave in certain ways or to achieve every milestone right on time. “He’s young, he’s growing, he’s discovering things, and he’s himself.”

Raine leading native bug identification Green Calgary 2

Raine began turning down social invitations that didn’t fit into her young family’s schedule or that added to her stress levels — even if that meant sometimes disappointing friends or family. “We used to spend half of Christmas Day at my parents’ house and half at my in-laws’, and we decided that we couldn’t do it anymore. And Christmas is much less stressful as a result.”

Raine, 29, and Neil also began to pay closer attention to what they brought into their home. They cut out impulse purchases, aimed to minimize their waste, and thought hard about what they did acquire. “We’ve become minimalists — not in terms of the way we decorate, but in the sense that we bring only what we need into our home, and try to create more than we consume.”

In addition to becoming more intentional about how they spent their money, the couple became much more thoughtful about how they spent their most important resource: their time.

“When we had Hawksley, Neil and I were both struck by how quickly young children grow and develop, how fast they learn, how fast the time goes by. And we really wanted to savour this time in our lives with our son and with each other.”

They savour that time by eating at least one meal together — without distractions like phones or other media — each day. Raine — who works as an environmental and educational consultant — incorporates a weekly lunch date with Hawksley into her schedule. The family starts each morning with a slow, meditative cup of tea before jumping into emails or breakfast. (Hawksley now requests “tea” most mornings upon waking.) And Raine has cut out time sucks like Facebook. “I no longer use it because I can’t handle it,” she says. “There were just so many unrealistic pictures of life that always left me feeling like I could be doing better.”

Raine slow tea mornings
Tea time!

Taken together, all these small changes have made Raine a happier, less anxious parent. “It’s made me more intentional. I’ve always been thoughtful about my impact on the environment, but now my focus has extended. I think about the impact of my actions on people, and what kind of role model I want to be for my son.”

Raine Hawksley River

  • You are very wise to have scaled back in doing things you think you “should” do. Enjoy your life. Do what feels right for you.

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