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Simple Stories

Sailing off the coast of Maine - Simple Living StoriesPhoto by Bryon Lippincott

I love how this family is benefiting from Simple Living and creating their own life!

Thanks so much Bethany ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the way you think.

Living Simply, With Children

Most people don’t care if my husband and I are minimalists. They don’t care if we choose to go without a television, have a limited wardrobe, and only a few electronic gadgets. They don’t even care if we choose to cram our meager possessions onto a 29-foot sailboat every summer and spend 3 months (soon we hope for it to be 12 months) living on it.

However, it all changes when we add our 5-year-old daughter to the mix.

We get questions, some are relatively sensible, but most are completely absurd.

  • How will going without television effect her development?
  • What is she grows up hating minimalism?
  • What if she hates sailing?
  • Won’t she get bored, without a lot of toys?

Add to it the fact that my daughter is on the autism spectrum, and the concern only grows.

Happily, research proves that children’s brains develop much better in a simple environment where they are not overstimulated and have opportunities to be creative. And these benefits are amplified in children with special needs.Simple Stories - Bethany

Our own experience has backed this up. ย My daughter is completely thriving, thanks to our simple lifestyle.

Here are some of the benefits we’ve noticed:

  1. The three of us have a much closer relationship than many families with children. We’re always in close proximity to each other, so we’ve interacted with each other more.
  2. Our daughter engages in a lot more problem solving on her own. She isn’t used to seeing problems solved quickly, like in a 30 minute television show, and she isn’t bombarded with electronic toys that solve the problems for her.
  3. Our daughter engages in creative play – with all kids of things! Clothespins, silverware, wine corks, and even scraps of paper can become people acting out their own dramas.
  4. She goes outside more. She isn’t used to having a house filled with toys. ย Especially in the summer, when we’re in less than 200 square feet of space on the boat, she plays outside or runs over to the park. Here, she gets exercise and has the chance to socialize, rather than watching television or playing video games all day.
  5. She reads more. Reading and learning can be exciting for children! But they are quiet and require patience, unlike the instant gratification of television and other “blinky” entertainment.
  6. Our daughter’s world is larger than most kids’. Since simplicity has allowed us the opportunity to travel all summer, she is able to see different places and have unique experiences.
  7. She isn’t told how to live her life. With no television, our daughter isn’t shown other lifestyles that are “normal”. She doesn’t deal with nearly as much pressure to conform. She is able to be true to herself, and she is learning that she can live in the way she sees fit.
  8. She is more confident. By playing outside, and in our case by living on the boat, our daughter does more by herself. Even though her disability affects her muscle strength and coordination she is confident boarding the boat on her own and climbing around on the deck. Children who play outside, independently and with friends, will develop the same confidence. Having the opportunity to play freely, without an adult right there, allows kids the chance to fall down and get right back up.
  9. She sees that there is an alternative to following the script. We don’t have a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, an SUV, and all the jazz. We don’t have a big screen television and all the latest “must have”‘s. We choose to live on one income, so we don’t have as much money as many people. But we’re showing our daughter a life that’s infinitely richer, infinitely more fun.
  10. She sees us following our passion. And it’s becoming her passion too. She’s learning to do something that most people don’t know how to do, and she loves it. During the school year, she frequently talks about wanting to go back.

So, don’t let anyone convince you that having children means settling down and following the script. A life of simplicity, and possibly some adventure, could be the best gift that you give them! For more about our adventures in minimalism and sailing, visit my blog.

18 Comments

  1. […] Please check out my guest post “Living Simply With Children,” at Loving Simply Living.ย  Thank you, Lorilee, for allowing me to […]

  2. Thanks for the great post! I love how surprised and appalled people are when they learn about not having a tv. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kate

    • We often get asked if we’re Amish…because all good Amish families have a sailboat with an atomic 4…

  3. That cracks me up! “How will she develop without tv?” really!?! People are cray, cray sometimes. I can already see the negative affects of tv on my three year old and I’m not sure now how to swing the tide. With the second baby and just general fatigue and overwhelm I find it very hard not to fall back on it more often than I should. I’ve been thought about doing a “technology fast” for awhile but, my husband is not on board and he spends the majority of his “free time” on his Ipad or Iphone so, I haven’t felt like it would work. I guess I should go ahead with the girls and I but, I think sometimes that he’s dependent almost like an addiction. Weird, but, concerning… I guess I just need to pray and be strong enough to “be the change I want to see”. Do you know any bloggers who made changes in the family like this without their husband or wife’s support? I would love to read about someone like that, if you know of anyone.

  4. Sounds you are providing a wonderful childhood for your daughter. I can imagine the lovely family memories she will grow up to have. We gave up on our TV too awhile ago now, and it really has not been missed. Fortunately, we were never big TV users anyways, so it was not too hard. I look at it as a “season” in our life. Our children are young and I want to make the most of their childhood and fill it with as much goodness and peace as I can. TV just does not fit into that picture. But it is hard to stay away from technology and I have to always be mindful of how we spend our time….Sailing as a family sounds great.

    • Netflix and online time are our challenges. Technology can be a double-edged sword, and I’ve really had to work on being intentional with my usage of it.

      • Yes, even though we got rid of our TV, I still have to be very mindful about how much we use the lap top. We don’t have iphones or ipads and my kids have not been exposed to video games yet, but they do get to watch a rented movie from the library or our small collection of Dvds, and then there are some sites I let my daughter use that she also uses at school, but still…..I find myself saying: ok, that’s enough…I am turning the computer off etc. etc.

        • And, by all means, my daughter will NOT have private usage of a computer, in her bedroom!

  5. Lindsay Lindsay

    Oh, I love this! Thank you for sharing.

    One comment I get from relatives–we are a minimalist family about to move to SE Asia– is that they “feel sorry” for our children because “they don’t get a choice.” Wow. The fact that all four of them (plus one on the way) are closer than my siblings and I have ever been and are very happy AND excited about our move says to me people are just trying to put all their fears on me…plus, since they’re relatives, I’m thinking they are trying to come up with reasons we shouldn’t go. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So, this post was very encouraging and inspiring to me. Thanks again for sharing! Blessings on this adventure we call life! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Lindsay Lindsay

        Hahaha, TOTALLY using that line next time! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Great post, Bethany! This might be one of my favorites!

  7. It is a wonderful, wonderful thing to live without the pressures of a television, especially for children. We need to teach our children that it is okay not to “fit in”, let them observe life for themselves and become free thinkers, no matter how young. Good luck on your journey!

    • Hi, Cheryl! You know, I noticed really early on, around age 2 or before then, even, that Beanie did her own thing, and didn’t always do and say the same things as other kids. She definitely doesn’t have that same pressure, to blend in with everyone else.

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