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We waste a lot of resources by buying our kids all that they ask for – if we say no, we don’t become miserly. This is minimalist parenting, our bit towards saving the environment.
There is quite a difference between being miserly and being minimalist. While the former might not meet your needs, the latter, however, ensures that you do not miss out the essentials. This difference plays a significant part in parenting. A minimalist parent ensures the child’s needs as well as happiness by editing the unnecessary out of the list.
I remember when my younger child had asked for a wristwatch two years ago. I knew that she was too young then to understand how to tell time. She protested a lot when I did not give in to her demand. Sometimes we even felt embarrassed when she cried in public. But I was adamant. I wasn’t a miserly parent in this case, because I felt that her need was temporary. She had seen a few friends wearing wristwatches and wanted to do the same.
I waited for another two years and bought her a watch. By this time, she had learnt how to use it and tell the time. It wasn’t about imitating her friends or putting up appearances.
Minimalist parenting might come across as a traditional and old school of thought, where parents did not buy unnecessary luxuries. Their limited exposure and income restricted their spending capacity.
However, cultural changes brought about more exposure, where children today want and need more. And with an increase in our collective spending capacity, no matter how much we buy, it always seems less.
I believe in old-school parenting where children were being taught to be minimalistic. To buy what is most needed, while the rest can be shared, saved or borrowed.
But how can one be a minimalist parent without having your children think of you as miserly? The strategy of the half-filled glass has been of help to me.
Whenever my children ask for water, I always fill their glass half. The reason for this is to teach them to take what they need. They can always refill it if they need more.
A full glass is more likely to be wasted. The same goes for food.
We don’t fill up our plates, irrespective of how much we can actually eat, do we?
I realised this a few weeks ago when I was preparing my kids for a new school session. I noticed that their cupboards were inundated with unwanted things – colours, pencil boxes, and accessories, which were lying unused.
I learnt that we don’t value things when they are abundant. And won’t do so until the need arises. And as parents, we often fulfil every wish before it becomes a need.
Close the tap to avoid water wastage while they brush, switching off lights when not in use, and other mundane things. How can someone replace these natural resources? I find that we waste more than we use, and find it alarming. And I hope for my children to value things, whether man-made or natural.
So I’ve stopped buying all that they ask me for. I buy only what is most needed then. When two pencils are enough, why give them 50?
Minimalism is not as obsolete as we think, as many developed countries are adopting this philosophy and way of life. Fewer options present an efficient and simpler way of life. Your mind will not fickle on a barrage of options, and ultimately you will save time, money and energy.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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