Children of all ages need that nurturance only a family can give and the guidance of taking life slowly and one day at a time. Teach them to savor each moment; this is a lesson that will last a lifetime. Below, are some ways in which you can learn to live simply with your children.
1. Donít over schedule and remember the importance of family time.
If your children are in school make sure they are not overwhelmed with after school activities. You can tell if it is too much for your children if they are tired, acting grumpy, or just do not seem interested. Typically one after school activity is enough to give them time for homework and family time later in the evening. Do not underestimate the value of eating as a family at dinner time. If your children are interested, enlist their help in preparation of the meal. Smaller children can set the table, pour the water, and help with serving. Dinner time conversation provides a stable connection from the parents to the children.
2. Teach children to help themselves.
Even small children can be taught self-care skills and certainly older children can be expected to perform basic skills to help themselves and their family. Have a list of family chores that can be divided up. Such examples are: taking out the trash, sweeping the floors, making beds, tidying up the house, etc. Put the children in charge of packing their backpack in the morning. Some children can manage to pack their lunches, with supervision. Combing their hair, brushing their teeth, and getting dressed are all skills even the youngest can do. Teaching them self-skills also gives children great confidence. Lists posted in common areas of the house can be very helpful.
3. Organize clean up time.
Teach your children to put away their things before leaving the house and bedtime. Make sure you allow enough time so that toys can be put away without any stress. Shelving with labeled baskets allow for ease at cleanup time. For example, one basket can contain legos, another with cars, etc. If children know what to expect, cleanup time is easier. Play music to make the task not so daunting. Remark on how beautiful and clear the space looks once cleanup is over. This will impress upon them how the energy of the room feels.
4. Keep bedtime routines calming.
After cleanup time and before bedtime there are some tactics that you can use to calm the body and mind. Draw a warm bath and put a few drops of lavender essential oils in it. Play soft music or cuddle up and read a good book. Dim the lights at this time so the childís body can get used to the idea of sleep.
5. Keep traditions simple.
Birthdays and holidays can be kept fun and exciting while keeping it simple. Ask your child what they are most interested in when their birthday arrives. Bake a cake together, plan a small party, and take a special outing. Holidays can certainly be kept simple and fun. Some classics from childhood that keep the holidays simple are: making gingerbread houses, cutting down a Christmas tree, baking, and decorating. You can take the commercialization out of the holidays by talking with your family about it. Check out your local community calendar and you will be sure to find local holiday concerts and gatherings, etc.
6. Take advantage of local attractions and things to do.
When planning fun things to do during the summer or school breaks, think local. Every area; urban, rural, and suburban has its own special places. Zoos, farms, farmers markets, museums, art galleries, pottery studios, amusement parks etc are just a few examples. Oftentimes you can get a membership to a museum or zoo and go there as often as you like for a fraction of the price. Also, by keeping it local, you keep it simple and save gas at the same time.
Living simply with children should be just that; simple. Childhood should be carefree and fun and not hurried or stressed. Try a few of these tips and let me know what you think and how your family life has changed.