We lead a busy life, and we can say the same for our children. The internet bombards them with a lot of information (some say too much) and their social circles now go beyond school and home. There is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the likes, which requires a different set of skills to navigate.
"As the pace of life accelerates to hyperspeed — with too much stuff, too many choices and too little time — children feel the pressure," writes Kim John Payne, a family counselor and the author of Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids. "They can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems."
For some experts, a simple life could be the most straightforward path to raising kids who can deal with the anxiety and pressure. One school of thought on simple living is called "simplicity parenting," which Jean Miller, a certified parenting coach and creator of Waldorf Inspired Learning, defines as "the ability to simplify our lives so that we can slow down and enjoy a sense of ease and calm."
It's all about pursuing the adage "less is more." You can start with these four aspects, according to Payne:
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1. Declutter your child's environment. Kids don't need a million toys since they often stick to their favorites. Remember when they happy with just a cardboard box? Kids also prefer open-ended toys that they can play with in more ways than one. It teaches them to be resourceful and resilient.
2. Let the kids become bored. Free up your family schedule for some alone-time to do as one pleases or do nothing at all. "Rest nurtures creativity, which nurtures activity. Activity nurtures rest, which sustains creativity," Payne explained. "Each draws from and contributes to the other." Simply put, let kids be bored. Besides, all work and no play is not advisable for both the parents and the kids.
3. Unplug your devices. Our parents didn't need to worry about screen time and gadgets with us, and they are fortunate in that way. We now have to deal with screen dependency because there are too many studies that show excessive screen time is just not good for our kids.
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4. Develop a family routine. Re-evaluate what's important to your family. Yes, a trip to Disneyland is exciting and fun, but your child will remember it more because they were with mom and dad. Spending time and having fun with their parents and siblings makes for a lasting positive memory. Family dinners, nature walks, reading together — these are your kids' "happiness anchors," which they will bring with them as adults.
"[Simplicity parenting] is about warmth and connecting. In simplifying parenting, we get closer to our children. They no longer have to fight for our attention, everything becomes easier, and it is actually achieved by doing less," Payne stressed.
By doing less, parents push their kids to be creative, adaptive, and innovative. And as studies have proven, these children perform well in school and do better socially and emotionally. Simplicity can help steer the family on track when it comes to values we want to instill, attitudes and traits we want to pass on to their kids.