Sunday, August 13, 2017

on living simply, with children

I cannot count the number of times I've heard this statement: "My kids don't play with their toys. They make messes, and make noise, and their toys are all over the house, but they don't really PLAY with any of them."

This is so, so common. It's very sad, and, I think, a serious problem with our culture as a whole, and with my generation of parents and children specifically. Let's chat about the issue a little.

First, two great resources for anyone interested in dealing with this problem directly:
1. The Simple Families website and podcast.
2. The book, Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne.  

Second, this is one of my own personal "soapbox" topics. I feel extremely passionate about raising kids well, and (probably because of my background in education) I'm hyper-sensitive to the positive/negative affects that parenting choices have on children in their present and future lives. I think simplicity is important, but also really, really difficult.

Third, this is not in itself an issue of real spiritual significance. As a follower of Jesus, there are some absolutes that I hold onto without question. This is not one. Though I think creating a safe, creative, simple space for children is valuable, it doesn't in itself point them to the cross of Christ, and thus, this topic of conversation isn't an absolute for me.  The issues of biblical simplicity, in the sense of sharing things in a community, and living with less, and giving to the poor, are different than what I'm writing about now. Though maybe they can be a discussion here some day, now that I'm thinking of it... :)

Alright, so with those three important notes, here are some ideas and points that I've been mulling over in the last year. Some will be their own separate blog posts in coming days (or months.) I'd love to continue the conversation in the comments below, if you'd like. :)

  • There are many things that are awesome for babies and children to have. And there are many, many things that make parenting easier (hello, high chairs and baby food pouches!). But, there are many, many, many things that are absolute junk. They clutter up our houses and our children's minds. And this clutter, this excess, actually becomes a serious imposition to children developing the way they should... children in general aren't spending enough time outside, are watching way too much TV, and are failing to learn basic life skills such as independent play, sharing, conflict resolution, and problem solving. Teachers notice. Grandparents notice. The society as a whole notices. And we parents often notice, but we aren't sure what to do to combat the problem. This includes me. I'm not speaking typing in judgement here-- I'm working through this in my own home, and with my own family. But as parents, we are our children's protectors and their advocates. For their good, and for the good of future generations, we need to combat this culture of excess and waste and general overwhelm. 
  • I cannot recommend the book Simplicity Parenting enough. It is so, so practical and relevant and wise. 
  • Some future blog post ideas: great toys that we love and use and highly (highly!) recommend; how I've set up / how I maintain a relatively simple home (and life) for our children; how we spend our time and develop a simple schedule for our family; activities and creative play that my kids do regularly; conversations to have with children regarding our choices toward simplicity. What else? Leave post ideas below!
  • Bonus! A few ladies who lean toward a simple way of parenting, and whose blogs I really love... Lindsay Kubly, Erin Boyle, and Erin Loechner

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