I remember when I was at university I saw the book ‘Simplify your Life' by Elaine St James on the counter at the university bookshop. Despite my rather meagre student finances I bought it immediately and read the whole thing on the bus ride home. I was hooked. The notion of deliberately choosing a life that is ‘outwardly simple, inwardly rich’ resonated deeply. Since then, voluntary simplicity has been a driving value for me. I haven't always succeeded, but I have always aspired to live this way.
Now there is (of course!) a book called ‘Simplicity Parenting'. I haven’t read it but Grace has reviewed it very positively, and having read the first chapter on Amazon it certainly looks like a good read. It has got me thinking a lot about what ‘simple parenting’ means to me.
An old-fashioned childhood
I want my children to have an old fashioned kind of childhood … to climb more trees and watch less TV. To take all morning to get dressed, to read the same book 20 times in one day and to make forts with sheets over chairs in the lounge. To have one special doll and love her, not a collection of 40 Barbies and always be wanting more. To take all day to potter in the garden, or bake biscuits in the kitchen.
A stay at home mum
My life is simpler because we actually stay home a lot, rather than fill our days with playgroups, music classes, toddler gymnastics, play dates, and coffee groups. Our mornings are much calmer as there is no pressure to be anywhere. I don’t need to pack lunches and bags. I don’t need to pay fees or organise resources or sit on committees. Now we only have one car life is even simpler … if we can’t walk there in the pushchair, we can’t go! Plus, getting kids into the pushchair seems so much simpler than herding them in and out of carseats.
Avoiding mall trall
We try as far as possible to avoid the excesses of todays commercial culture (oooh, that sounds terribly self righteous). We don’t watch TV with the kids so they don’t see the ads for all the amazing toys. We try not to take them to malls and department stores, so they don’t see things to ask for. We try not to clutter our home with plastic junk. The odd time we do find ourselves in a K’Mart and experience the pester-power of a 3 year old we are quickly reminded of how much staying away keeps our life, and our home simple.
Beware the supermums
You know the supermums don’t you … the ones whose 2 year olds are already ‘preccious readers’ and are heading off to gifted programmes. The ones who anxiously teach colours, letters and numbers, agonise over each developmental milestone, and phone Plunketline twice a day to check everything out. These mums will stress you out … I tend to give them a wide berth!
Let go of perfectionism
My life is complicated by my ambition to be some of kind of perfect Waldorf mom who cooks biodynamic food from scratch, sews and knits and needle-felts and has nothing in the house that is formed or synthetic.
But for me, real life isn’t like that. Friends and family have different values, and I’d rather spend time enjoying my children than fermenting yoghurt. My heart broke the first time I saw how much Munchkin loved Dora the Explorer. It didn’t fit the picture in my head of what she ‘should’ be into … but that is my issue not hers.
And so when a loving aunty gave her a Dora doll for her birthday, and my grandparents gave her a Dora book I chose not to worry. Not to try to ‘hide’ the doll, or have a ‘little chat’ to the rellies about why we don’t have those things in our house. Instead, I bought her some Dora stickers to go with it and decided that life would be a lot simpler if I let go of my Waldorfy perfectionism.
We have even started watching the odd DVD here … I have three DVDs for Munchkin. She goes through stages of being quite into them, and when she’s having one of those days and Little Guy is refusing to settle they are a god-send. I am glad I fought the battle for as long as I did, but for me the decision to stop being a TV Nazi has made life a lot easier!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What makes life at your place simple, or complicated?
Raw Cauliflower Salad
6 years ago