Having a child has been an eye opener in so many ways. Before having a child I didn’t know you could live on 3-4 hours of broken sleep for months or become blase about poo. But I also didn’t know how much my child would teach me about creating a rhythm to our days and about the need, and benefit, to living simply. In his two years and three months on this earth, Henry has taught me:
Too much choice is overwhelming. I see this in meal time and play time every day. If I serve up a plate heaping with food, and different types of it, my son eats less, gets bored and throws a lot of his meal on the floor. However, if I serve up a small portion of just one or two things, things he can easily identify and pick up with his hands or a fork, he eats more and there is usually less food flinging (two year olds love to throw food). Same rules apply for toys. If there are too many toys out he can’t focus on his favourites and ends up not wanting to play with any of them.
Rest is vital. The next time you see an overly tired child throw a tantrum remind yourself of this: the only thing stopping an overly tired adult from crying and stomping their feet is ego and maturity. We need sleep. Good nourishing restful sleep. Not enough sleep can manifest itself in everything from overconsumption (food, shopping, tv) to more arguments with your spouse. When I see how much happier, energetic and good natured my child is with a lot of sleep I remember how I am all those things too when I get a solid 8-9 hours.
This also applies to over-scheduling. My toddler, and his mother, are happier people when we have a routine but not a packed schedule. This is especially true around busy holidays. Say yes to too many parties or get togethers and there is sure to be a meltdown, parent or child.
Experiences over stuff. While it’s very sweet to watch my son get excited over a new toy, the new factor and excited play might last 20 minutes at the most. He’ll enjoy it again and again but not with the same vim and vigor of that first time. In contrast, he gets similarly excited and joyful at our music and movement class once a week. Meeting a dog on the beach, which we do a few times a week, is a thrilling experience even if we already spent twenty minutes saying hello to some Jack Russell terriers. Every time I flip to the page with the goose and her goslings in our Baby Animals story book, my son screams, “duck! duck! duck!” (I don’t know, 87 readings and counting?).
I can remember so much about events in my life, the feeling after crossing the finish line and winning the NCAA Women’s Rowing championship, epic three hour phone calls with my husband when we were dating and he was still a touring musician, riding a Segway in Florence, but I can’t remember much about things I’ve bought or owned. If I remember details about an article of clothing or my first Walkman, it’s because there is a story attached to it, something that makes me laugh or cry (hopefully laugh).
What have your children taught you about simplicity?