Talk about parenting to your parents and they will definitely tell you how raising children (us) was harder back in the day when they didn’t have all the ‘things’ that we have. I have always responded to the above remark with ‘well, times have changed, the challenges are different today, it doesn’t make the job any easier.’
They say we have more things, I say we have more choices. Modern parenting is all about choices. What do we feel and understand about that? First impression: Choices is good. It means you have access to many options and can decide to go for one that suits you best.
But if you look deeper, you will see the difficulty it brings. SO MANY DECISIONS from choosing clothes to schools and from choosing vegetables to developmental activities… we have way too many choices and we spend most of our time and energy in understanding these choices and making what we think is the best decision for our child.
They say we have things, I say we have more. We are not the first generation to be plagued by the concept of possession or things. But we are definitely the torch bearers of the concept of MORE. More toys, More gadgets, More activities, More clothes, More parties, More achievements, More classes, More degrees, not to forget more expert advice and More competition, More …More…More….
So, we have an issue of having more things (to own, to do and to be), that results in more choices.
Personally, for us ‘minimalism’ has been like a rude alarm clock on Monday Morning, that suddenly moves you out of the weekend and throws you unkindly into the real world. It is rude and harsh, but it is also the thing that propels you to achieve, and provides you with that initial charge you need to jumpstart your day.
While reading about minimalism we found that less is more.
Less toys: More attention span for the child, better opportunity for the child to fully engage with a toy.
Less clothes: More organised cupboards, more storage space for other things, more utilisation of what you have.
Less food: More attention on what you put in your mouth. More likely to reduce wastage at home
Less things: More free time (previously used to clean, store and arrange things), more organised environment (de-cluttering) and more focus on experiences.
Everybody who follows the minimalistic lifestyle, will describe it differently to you. It basically refers to shifting into a simple lifestyle that is more connected to your values and what makes you truly happy. It is also about removing everything that distracts you from achieving what really truly makes you happy. So it has a certain amount of ‘intentionality’ associated to it, that makes it a lifestyle focusing on making things better and improving all aspects of life.
Our take on Minimalism
We realised that this chaotic environment of ‘more choices’ was actually quite toxic. It meant more of the hard stuff, like more multi-tasking, more anxiety, more decisions, more confusion and more chaos. Ultimately it leads to varying degrees of what can be best described as ‘over-parenting‘.
It is difficult to say when you become overly engrossed with parenting. Who knows where to draw the line? This is call everyone must make after considering the nature, interests and aspirations of their child as well as the realities of their own adult lives and schedules. But think about it, how much your child will gain from a de-cluttered life. Think about the creative juices that will begin to flow, when you are not intentionally engaging them every minute of every day, but just letting them be for sometime. Think about the memories you will make with them by sharing not just toys but also experiences with them.
We thought about it, and we really loved the idea. We have slowly started working towards a minimalistic life. It is not an overnight change. It is a very gradual process, there is no 1 level you can reach where you can call yourself completely minimal because there is no universal standard for minimalism, but you can definitely attempt to go minimalistic by doing away with some excesses at a time.
What is this excess?- what seems excessive to you can seem necessary to another. Formula for instance! or some commercial baby food. Some parents swear by breast pumps and bottles while others say it’s a needless expense and boobs are all you need. Some parents will tell you that you need a stroller others will tell you its unnecessary.
How to go minimalistic
Keeping this in mind, we urge parents to go for minimalism because it works well for the environment, keeps a check on our consumerist tendencies and does a world of good for our children. But be realistic, do what you must to stay afloat and sane. Start by doing small things like:
- Toy Rotation
- Book Rotation
- When you buy something ask yourself do you really really need it
- When you buy something new, remove something old from your cupboard
- Use Reuse Recycle
- Allow your children to get bored once in a while
- Try to find what makes you and your family truly happy, do more of that
- Try to keep your home free of things that you are not actively using.
You can take this further by reducing the furniture you have, making gadget-free spaces and by doing away with all the unused toys in the house so that you can replace them with your presence and wonderful experiences. It is up to you how minimal you want to be, be careful of thinking of minimalism as the opposite of indulgence. It is so much more than that.
Here is hoping that I have triggered your interest in minimalistic parenting. Do read up more on this so-called old school, very cool and useful lifestyle and share your findings, views and thoughts with us.