The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates
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Being a parent was never this complicated. Despite the lack of gadgets and smartphones, our mothers and grandmothers had it easier. These days are a time of too much information and too many choices.
Consumerism is at an all-time high. Now in India, we have a plethora of brands to choose from, with e-commerce websites sprouting up overnight! Moms today have fewer kids than previous generations, and more disposable income to spend on them. The result is a generation of entitled, materialistic kids, who have their own smartphones at age six!!
Needless to say, this isn’t an ideal situation. While we don’t want to deprive our kids, giving them more than what is actually needed can prove disastrous in the long run. Here are a few reasons this ‘maximalism’ is hurting us and our kids:
1. Extravagance – An obvious fallout of our current lifestyles is that our kids get used to a life of extravagance. They don’t important life lessons like working for something you want, resisting temptation and being frugal. This could lead to bad financial decisions in the future.
2. No downtime – In our Mom resolutions post, we’ve talked about how important it is to schedule downtime for both yourself and your child. Several recent studies emphasize the importance of free time where you don’t do anything, giving your brain an opportunity to make sense of recent mental processes and do a general assessment of your feelings.
3. Less human contact – We are more connected than ever, what with our friends and family literally in our pockets! But nothing can come close to actual physical human contact, which has been shown to be significant in reducing depression, improving societal structures and strengthening long-term relationships. While we probably knew relatives with the third degree of separation, our kids can hardly identify anyone beyond their immediate cousins.
4. Less empathy – The more stuff and privileges we have, the more disconnected we become disconnected from our roots. Kids and adults in this position are often blind to the harsh reality of their countrymen who subsist on a fraction of what they have. This leads to reduced empathy, which scientists agree is an essential ‘pro-social’ skill and an integral part of a person’s EQ.
5. Too much negativity – If you’re online, then it’s impossible not to have been drawn into The Great iPad Potty Controversy or The Battle of Extended Breastfeeding! There are so many differing views as there are people and it is impossible to please everyone. It’s no wonder that people take social media fasts – it can really kill your mood for the day!
6. Inadequacy – We’re human and we’re all doing our best for our kids. But ever so often we can’t help feeling a little deficient in the beautiful crafts that some people make, or at Moms who cook all their healthy, organic meals from scratch. Pinterest is a great source of ideas, but it can also make you end up feeling inadequate, as though there’s always something better you could do/buy/make.
With these in view, two Moms, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, have written a book on Minimalist Parenting, where they talk about providing a good life for our kids by scaling back and living simply. They offer suggestions regarding your daily life and how you can make small changes that can have a big impact on your family and home. In this spirit, we have created our own list of Minimalist Parenting Tips for Indian Moms. And yes, they’re all easy to do!
7 Tips for Minimalist Parenting
First and foremost, get the physical clutter out of your home. You might not believe how much-unwanted stuff you have until you actually get into every nook and cranny and pull it all out! Throw out or give away the things you don’t need, depending on their current condition. Chief culprits are toys, clothes, cosmetics and kitchen stuff – do away with anything that does not bring you joy.
2. Time Management
We have 24 hours in a day, and poor management of these hours can make us run around like a headless chicken all day! Create a daily routine that is not too strict, but just a guideline. Say ‘No’ to all unwanted social commitments or clubs you’ve signed up for. Stop watching stressful TV shows. You’ll be surprised how much time is suddenly freed up.
Also read: 8 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips
Most Moms dread meal prep, especially deciding what to cook. Have a ‘Master Meal Plan’ – Pulao rice on Monday, Parantha variation on Tuesday, Soup & Salad on Wednesday, Pasta on Thursday, and Leftovers on Friday. This will make meal planning super quick, and all you have to do is make minor variations for each week and shop accordingly on weekends. For more help, use this free printable meal planner and pin it up on the fridge. Avoid complicated meals with special ingredients.
Enrol your kids only to classes that you are absolutely sure they’ll enjoy. Buy durable school bags that’ll last two years instead of one. Try using hand me downs for younger siblings. Give your child some time to wind down once he’s back from school so that his brain gets some time to recharge from the day’s events. Try carpooling or use the school bus to save on fuel and letting your child get used to public transport.
As everyone knows, birthdays, festivals and celebrations are a big deal in India! Birthdays, for example, have become the huge commercial event, with people spending huge amounts for decoration, cake and gifts. But you can plan a DIY birthday on a budget too, and save a lot of money and stress. Remember birthdays and festivals are more about family and enjoyment rather than spending on things. This also applies to festivals like Diwali and Christmas which are getting even more elaborate by the year. Keep guest lists small, and have only as much food as little kids will eat. Try to make your own decorations and put together your own goodie bags for guests.
Also read: 40 Kids Birthday Party Activities And Games For All ages
Wherever you are going, make sure you’ll be visiting more than just malls or expensive amusement parks! Include historical places along with scenic spots. Walk instead of taking a cab everywhere. Avoid buying too many souvenirs that’ll end up as clutter. And of course, pack light!! Take along simple, comfortable clothes and necessities, and think about creating memories rather than selfies! On vacation days spent at home, try not to stuff your kids’ days with activities. A plan so that they have a class or two for half the day, with the remaining half free to just hang around and get creative on their own.
7. Social Media
Many of us can’t stay away from social media since it’s a part of our jobs. But we can filter the information that is handed to us. Unsubscribe from all parenting emails, groups and notifications that aren’t adding value to your life. Stay away from arguments on various parenting issues – you’ll only get frustrated! Don’t get drawn into how picture perfect other Moms’ homes and families appear to be, everyone has their good and bad days and what you see online are only the best of the best!
Also read: Being a good enough mother
A good number of Moms are turning towards minimalist parenting and are opening their and their kids’ minds to the joy of simple living. Consider every aspect of your family’s lives and see how you can simplify it. You are sure to find many ways to do it!