Simplicity Parenting and Filtering Out the Adult World Q+A
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
Raising children in our modern world requires intentionality and practical simplicity. We make a conscious decision to lead our family by our unique values, creating a family culture that sets the tone for how we want to live as a family. Little ones are so susceptible to the influence and impact of too much, too fast, and too soon; we as the parents are the guides to their experience of the world. Over the last three weeks, we looked into setting tech boundaries, how to overcome fear-based parenting, and filtering out the ideas of the adult world. These steps are not easy, but they are beyond worthwhile to implement. Below are a few of the questions we’ve received over the last month, and I hope these answers help you simplify your family’s home as well!
I really like the idea of simplicity parenting and trying to protect my kids from growing up too fast. I feel like I can control that somewhat in my home. But what about all of the influences at school or even my in-laws who love to talk politics in front of the kids? What would you recommend for that?
First, I want to celebrate the steps that you’re taking to simplify childhood and keep your home a sanctuary for your kiddos. They will benefit immensely from you taking that one step to protect their experience at home. It does become a bit more complicated as our children are more involved with people and activities outside of the home. There are two parts to how we handle this:
Know Your ValuesIt should be incredibly clear to your entire family what your values are based on how you live. Even if your children are little, your values can be communicated in very simple terms as well as demonstrated through your daily actions. Creating a family culture around what you believe has a powerful effect on kiddos and insulates them from the larger culture at play. This would be my first recommendation when concerned about protecting them from outside influences.
Set Boundaries While Embracing ImperfectionThe second step would be to consider having a conversation with family members who aren’t respecting your wishes for your children. Perhaps they are unaware that intense political conversations impact your little one’s sleep that night. Or maybe your children are at events that are actually designed for adults? Begin looking at the big picture of where and how your child spends their time. As for the influence of other peers, activities, and school, socialization is an integral part of childhood and it’s value shouldn’t be dismissed. Rather than worrying about the impact, consider that children benefit from seeing contrasts in their world that allow them to become whole beings. We cannot protect them from every single influence, so focus on what’s happening in the home and encourage question asking and discussion to process external experiences.
My husband and I are so tired of our son constantly being on screens, but truthfully, I use it during the day to get things done. Otherwise, I can never get any housework done because my 3 year old wants to be right next to me all the time. I just don’t get how other moms can get anything done without using technology. Help!
I hear you on this 100%, and it can be so hard to give up technology when it enables parents to complete a few tasks around the home more easily or grocery shop in peace. Let me offer you another viewpoint of the situation that may help.
Children possess what Maria Montessori coined “the absorbent mind”, otherwise known as the ability to retain experiences and information from their environment easily. They are like little sponges, soaking up our family customs, beliefs, and practices within the home. Whatever we normalize as parents, they will also see as normal and carry into adulthood. The most crucial period for this super strength is ages 0-6.
In the case of technology, there are two concerns with consistent and frequent use before the age of 6. First, we must consider what activities the technology is replacing that the child would otherwise engage in. Children benefit immensely from interacting in practical ways with the home environment, such as learning to put away dishes from the dishwasher, throwing dirty clothes in the laundry, helping Dad cook dinner, or watching rain falling outside the living room window. If a child is plugged into a screen for large chunks of the day, then he is missing these crucial learning and growing opportunities.
Secondly, children learn expectations and customs in our home and culture from interacting with them. For example, a child playing a video game while mom pushes him around the grocery store is missing out on seeing how food is chosen, the diversity of people and conversations happening as others shop nearby, and the way mom chats with the check-out person and counts out the money. In other words, technology used as a distraction rather than a tool disconnects children from the life experiences necessary to grow into competent adulthood.
It is so tempting to use screens as a babysitter, and as a mom myself, I completely understand the desire. Perhaps it is better to let the laundry pile up occasionally and involve your little one in folding it rather than have a spotless home without tech boundaries. However, only you can decide what’s best for your family! I recommend reading my previous article on creating values-based technology boundaries and then begin implementing your own rules around screen time. Keep in mind that children may exhibit signs of technology addiction, and it can take some time to wean everyone off of the screen use. Your child’s behavior will regulate back to normal once he is adjusted to life without or with very little screen time, so stay patient and committed to your end goal. Best wishes!
Next month we’ll discuss how to simplify the holidays and create your own family traditions. We’ll also talk about how to set boundaries for gift-giving with family members and create a “less, but better” gift culture in your home. If you’ve ever worried about the busyness and materialistic focus of the holidays, next month’s theme is for you!
What worries you most about the upcoming holidays? What kind of holiday experience would you like your family to have? Share in the comments below!
You can catch more from Kate by visiting her at https://thestreamlinedlife.com.