Life has become so hurried. Freeways, airports, stores, the internet…everything moves quickly. The rate at which we gather and process data is astonishing. In fact, I was reading a Telegraph article that said, “…we now receive five times as much information every day as we did in 1986.” You can read the entire piece here.
My daughter will be a product of this speedy world. She can already engage “Siri”, navigate multiple search engines, and download apps for our electronic devices. At six, she knows way more than I did at eight…maybe even ten. Sometimes, as a parent, I want to slow down time and show her simple, engaging, fun activities that remove us from our fast-paced, information-obsessed culture.
When life is getting too hectic and I feel like time is slipping through my fingers, one of my favorite places to retreat is called Old World Wisconsin. It is a “living museum” that allows guests to step back in time to the late 19th century (think Little House on the Prairie/Dowton Abbey). Visitors get to see how immigrant communities grew in our state, how children learned and played over a hundred years ago, and how adults worked and relaxed during the late 1800s – early 1900s. There are historic building tours and interactive learning opportunities found throughout the sprawling grounds.
Visitors can take in an old fashioned baseball game in summer, or ride a horse drawn carriage in the fall. Kids get introduced to Victorian era parlor games, get to participate in farm chores, and get to sit in a one room school house. Families can see how the 19th century home was centered around the hearth, and how children, men, and women had to band together to make the community function efficiently. There is a general store, a blacksmith, an old town hall, and a 19th century shoe store, to name just a few of the neat exhibits.
We certainly have a more dynamic, diverse, accepting and rich culture today than our ancestors. For those things I am grateful! But there are aspects of the Victorian period that I am in awe of, and I try to incorporate some of those things into my family’s life on a small scale. Most of it has to do with maximizing down time and encouraging social interactions. For example, in our house we try to keep alive important traditions from the 19th century like game night, storytelling around the fireplace, cooking Sunday meals together, and sitting with friends and family around our large dining room table. These old traditions are worth preserving!
I’m sure that in most communities, there are places like Old World Wisconsin. Research a “living museum” near you and find out how your community was built. Learn about old traditions. Think about how different our lives are today and how, by looking to the past, we can savor the simple pleasures in life.