I want to teach them less.
I have noticed that my children have a consumerist craving for more. I have a consumerist craving for more. There is just a lot going on and we are wanting what we see. We believe that more is more. More will surely result in satisfaction.
There is a space, the one we are stuffing with more in a quest for satisfaction. But what if what we really need is space? Could we be okay if we began to remove things and focussed on only what we really wanted to keep?
I am learning to be okay with less, I am discovering that less means more of the things that I intently choose. Since my husband and I decided to start our own business two years ago, we have had to learn to live with less because pursuing your dreams is not for free. I gave up nice things and in exchange I have less to lose. I have less things, less kitchen gadgets, less clothes, less beauty products, less home decor, less toys for my children.
This is an incredible season, because I feel gifted with the ability to assess what I truly need. It’s a season. Don’t go thinking that I don’t want nice clothes and beauty products and toys for my children. It’s just that I have space and I like how it feels. I have begun to carefully consider what I should fill this space with. As I do that, I am granted the opportunity to weigh each thing against my values.
It’s about having less but more of what I want. And this goes beyond things. In fact it’s not even about things. It’s about finding freedom by filling our hunger for more with what we really need. We all need space to dream and connect and overcome our fears and guilt. It’s removing anything in our lives that distracts us from achieving this.
It’s being intentional with the way we live our lives.
So here I am, choosing less and gaining more and wondering how I can raise my children to do the same in a more is more kind of a world.
I’m considering the way that my values impact my parenting right now, and how I would like my values to further shape the way I parent my children. Here are some thoughts.
I have noticed that if I give my children more of anything they will take it. More sugar, more screen time, more things. It is my responsibility as a parent to facilitate the alternative to more. It might seem that they are seeking entertainment, they declare that they are bored. Sugar, screen time or things could fill this space. I believe however that they are seeking creativity and a declaration of boredom is perhaps just a request for artistic direction. “Here is an empty box, make a space rocket.” “Here is a pile of dirt, I don’t know, do what you do, get dirty.” “Here is the sky, the sea, the tiny creatures.” We do allow our children sugar, screen time and things in our home, but we try to also make space for alternatives. Our goal is to teach them to discover their own ability to innovate.
I’m being intentional about this right now. This is an area of our lives that has been overlooked as we have poured our energy and time into other things. We are currently going through a process of assessing how better to use our energy and time. I have felt convicted recently to make some changes as I look around my home and realise that the accumulation of too many things has resulted in disorder. The things that we don’t need are distracting us from making use of the things that we do need. I am particularly motivated to organise our space at home to be able to play more intentionally with my children. I feel inspired to make less available to them at a time. I want to invest in good quality books, puzzles and art supplies but keep these packed away so that I can take them out one at a time and we can focus on projects together. I also want to throw out the junk, give away the things that we no longer use and teach my children to treat their possessions respectfully because they are fewer.
We are creating space to make room for the things that will make a big difference. Right now, while they are so little and so eager to be with us, we can give them time. The time that we spend with them now will make a big difference to their futures and we know that. Although Fred and I both work away from home, we try to be intentional about pursuing quality time with our children. We have chosen not to be with them all of them time, but we can also choose how to spend the time that we do have with them every day. We can choose to be present and we can choose to schedule less. I am aware of how much one-on-one time matters to them, and as my children are getting older I really want to focus on this as an area where I can choose to use my time for their benefit. I feel that if I make space to spend at least 15 minutes with each child per day, this can go a long way to modeling my values to them. This may mean saying no to other things (an extra hour of sleep, personal hobbies, a tidy house), but it’s about saying yes to what we value right now, for this season.
I am of the opinion that it’s important to let our children struggle. I know this goes against our instincts as parents, but consider the triumph of a small victory. The victorious feeling after a hard fought battle to follow older children up a jungle gym perhaps. I have watched my children persevere through such trials. I have fought the urge to just solve the problem and prevent the frustration, I have stood at the sidelines and cheered while they wailed and asked for help. I have witnessed their joyful pride when they managed to find the solution within themselves, I have witnessed them break through mental barriers and forge new pathways. That’s why I am that nasty mother standing and watching my child struggle and cry with nothing more to offer than a, “you can do it!” This is all within reason of course, and is best practiced with an understanding of our children’s limits. I am also beginning to suggest to them that they can solve their own squabbles. Though little and completely egocentric in their stance regarding conflict, I feel we can begin to introduce the idea that we as parents will not always be there to play referee. They will have to figure things out themselves. Also, most of the time I don’t know or care who did what first in any case.
I am looking forward to sharing more on this topic and how it plays into all areas of our lives. I would be interested in your thoughts and perhaps how you are implementing measures to parent less in a more world.