October 25, 2012 in Simple Stories
Elizabeth has been talking to me about this post for quite a while and has been working on the way she wants to word it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and perspective today.
The Case for Minimalist Parenting
“I wish I could be a kid again.”
Ever said that to yourself, trudging through another long day with no end in sight?
It seems like everyone remembers their youth with fondness and maybe even a little jealousy. But it’s a phrase I’ve never really related to.
Wanna know what I remember? Feeling suffocated by a jam-packed schedule – a huge blur of my youth I never really escaped until I left home for good.
Shiny Medals, Perfect Grades, and Flashy Dance Costumes
Of course, this isn’t how my Mom remembers it.
She’d tell you she gave me the world.
“Look at what I did for you!” she’d say when I begged her to let me slow down. “I would have given anything to have had what you have when I was your age! How could you be so ungrateful?”
I didn’t know any better, so I assumed she knew best and went along for the ride.
And what a ride it was. Violin lessons, academic clubs, and sports practices filled my calendar to the brim every weekday. Recitals, competitions, and games crowded my weekends. Volunteering and church activities filled in the rest.
Sure, I got straight A’s, won tons of competitions, and made it home in time for dinner.
But I never formed a genuine bond with my parents. We didn’t have the time, and we certainly didn’t have the energy. Instead, all I remember is lying in bed every morning, dreading the day ahead of me – every over-scheduled minute of it.
“You’re so lucky to have a mother who can do all this for you!” the other moms would say to me after mine proudly rolled off the laundry list of activities she drove me back and forth to.
Everyone would nod together, and I’d smile. On the inside I was dying, but no one could see me crumbling behind my shiny medals, perfect grades, and flashy dance costumes.
After all, I was lucky.
“But I’m not like those parents”
“I’d never do that to my child,” you say. “That’s just too much.”
And you’re right. It was.
But I don’t think parents overwhelm their kids on purpose. Achievement is seductive. Those who have it want more of it, and those who don’t will do what it takes to get it.
Child achievement isn’t all that different. It gives you just the right amount of validation you need to prove to other parents (and yourself) that you’re doing something right.
But there’s no blaring alarm that sounds off when your schedule starts to go south. The chaos will sneak in slowly.
Eventually, your to-do list will scare anyone who takes a glimpse of it. You won’t remember the last time you did anything for yourself. A few quiet moments will come around and you’ll wonder, “Maybe I should put them in another extracurricular…”
But if your life is too busy to enjoy and savor, what’s the point?
Do More with Less: Minimalist Parenting
We all talk about minimalism simplifying where we live. But minimalism isn’t just limited to removing all the clutter in your home. It’s about removing everything that’s getting in the way of living the life you want. And that includes the clutter in your family’s schedule.
So stop cramming the family schedule with useless junk just because other people guilt you into it. Instead, give yourself the space and flexibility to make memories you and your kids will treasure, long after those recitals and sports seasons come to an end.
Because you know those small moments? The ones that don’t seem like much now? Those are the ones that turn out to be the best – the ones you’ll want to re-tell, laughing until you cry around the kitchen table with friends and family.
You deserve to have a vault of those memories. Here’s how to start making them…right now:
- Listen to their priorities. Take a few minutes to ask your child what’s worth keeping in their schedule – it might surprise you.
- Give yourself space. You don’t have to be with your child every moment to be a phenomenal parent. After a short time apart, they’ll be really excited to see you again – a little less whining and a few more smiles all around.
- Be present for them. After that initial excitement of getting a new toy wears off, it just becomes lost underneath all the others. But your presence in their life? That’s priceless. Those moments you have together will never rot in a landfill.
Let’s face it: kids need a lot less activities and things than everyone thinks.
Elizabeth Kane is a music teacher who loves showing parents how to use a music education to make their child unstoppable – without wasting their time or their money. Right now, she’s offering a free guide for simple parents that’ll steer your kids to success worth achieving – no “tiger mom” tactics required Click here to get it.