Fewer Words, More Slowly

Lately I’ve been noticing a worrisome trend around here. We have a lot going on as is typical for the end of the school year; special events, birthdays, annual doctor visits, and dentist appointments all seem to come within a three week span! As a result there is a great deal of needing to hurry and get out the door, hurry and get the regular jobs done, hurry and finish the last school assignments and a lot of children being tired of going places and not feeling much like hurrying.

Of course Mama is not real fond of all this going either and finds some of it downright stressful and there are clashes. Children dawdle, Mama fusses, children sometimes get moving and sometimes fuss back and on it goes.

But lately I’ve been noticing that part of the problem is almost certainly the number and speed of the words that pour forth from all of us (but particularly me) all day!

It’s not atypical for a conversation with a child to go something like this:

“Did you start the laundry?”


“Why not?”

“I was walking in circles.”

“You are wasting time, we could be doing such and such now, I really need you to focus and get your jobs done so we have time to do other things we want to do! You have to choose to focus……”

At some point I wind down and the child goes off to complete the job.

It’s not a good interaction. And it doesn’t actually result in the children being more motivated to do their work quickly.

I’ve fallen into this trap before. I love words and some part of me keeps thinking that if I could only explain well enough (or enough times) the children would suddenly “get it” and we wouldn’t have anymore dawdling! Of course, this isn’t true in the least: ?they are children and learning to work diligently is something that I know they must develop over the course of their childhood as they mature.

Then too, no one ever learned anything by being nagged about it (!) and I fall too quickly into that nagging pattern, driving us all nuts and harming our relationships. I start to feel like all I do is scold, which must mean the children are exceptionally naughty when really the issue is my interaction and the way I am reacting to their dawdling and our busyness.

I’ve actually learned this lesson before (I thought!) and written about it here and here?but it seems I need a reminder.

So I’ll be writing “Fewer words, Slower” on the whiteboard in the kitchen as a reminder and apologizing to the children for my fussing the past couple of weeks. I’ll be applying consequences as needed calmly and with few words.

“You are dawdling, I am assigning an extra job so you can practice working.”

I know this will result in a more peaceful home.

“Lord, set a watch over my lips.”


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