I love how this family is benefiting from Simple Living and creating their own life!
Thanks so much Bethany 🙂 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.
Our own experience has backed this up. My daughter is completely thriving, thanks to our simple lifestyle.
Here are some of the benefits we’ve noticed:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- She goes outside more. She isn’t used to having a house filled with toys. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.