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Over the years, parenting has changed quite a lot and now the latest ‘fad’ is that of Minimalistic Parenting. Here’s what I think about it!
R: Consistent presence and increase in the clutter in our lives, lead to the need and acceptance of the idea of minimalism in our day to day lives.
Minimalism basically means decluttering, stripping to essentials. And removing anything that we do no need. In our house, in our lives.
Minimalistic living has always been very attractive to me. The clutter of any kind – material things, choices, experiences have always made me uneasy, and in an extreme situation suffocated.
S, what are your two cents on the ‘M’ word?
S: You know, Minimalistic Parenting sounded like a dream when I first heard about it. Do less, get more.
Almost like an advertisement for a sale – and I’m a sucker for those!
Don’t Pinterest they said. Yes! Pinterest gives me anxiety anyway.
Don’t interfere in your kid’s lives. Now we’re talking!
Let them fall. Let them get hurt. Let them figure it out.
All too good to be true.
So I tried it.
And well…it was too good to be true.
My kid got bored. Like really bored. I thought sure, that’s part of the plan…she’ll figure something out. So, I gave her time. It made her cranky. And whiny. It made her too interested in my work.
She wanted to know why she couldn’t work on the laptop instead of me. Too many arguments ensued about how life was unfair for her and all that.
I don’t know. Is it like the flu that it has to get worse before it gets better? Or maybe I am doing it all wrong?
R: Let’s not call it the flu… maybe just a habit that we are trying to break…the habit to be ‘overstimulated.’
Haven’t we become a generation of overstimulation? Not just kids, adults too. We pride in our ability to multi-task. At work, I have found myself sifting through multiple assignments just because working on one for a longish stretch of time bores me. Is that an efficient way of functioning? Maybe not.
Have we not overstimulated our kids by exposing them to lots of different toys, lots of different activities right from when they were infants? And now we suddenly decide to Parent Minimalistically. Is it going to work, that too without hiccups?
Before removing tangible things from my kid’s life, maybe we need minimalism at a lower level first? How about we first de-clutter their lives from the things we have imposed on them before we take away from them what they can’t give up?
Over time I have realized that what I can’t implement and inculcate as a regular in my lifestyle but I still want my kid to follow, I do Rules.
An example of which is: ‘Bedtime is 8 pm.’ On which I am daily questioned. Why do you get to stay late after 8 pm Mom, when I can’t? Arguments like ‘that’s the only me-time I get’ or ‘I need to watch shows my own tv shows’ are never going to be usable on an eight-year-old. Even I am not convinced enough to use it on him.
Hence what do I do? I set it as a ‘Rule.’ And justify it saying that kids need to sleep more than adults. Again, pretty lame I would think.
S: No sometimes the simplest explanations work best, as long as they are logical or logical sounding at least. But sometimes they will work only for the short term.
So my kid might accept that we are doing away with one screen time with the simple explanation that it is not good for your eyes. Just when I’m patting myself on the back, she is now getting wily enough to squeeze it in some other time. It might be with some other adult or in some other screen in the name of ‘education.’ Kids know your weaknesses and your weak moments.
I know what you’re going to say – consistency. Consistency is the key. Correct. But while our life is so unpredictable and fluid, how does one keep it consistent? For example, working parents faced with situations (Ahem lockdown) might suddenly find themselves with screens as only reliable babysitters.
Which leads me to my next question, does minimalistic parenting work for all? Should we consider it the holy grail while other kids their age are getting their stimulation with ‘stuff,’ ours might be the only ones left behind?
R: Well, that leads to my second de-clutter item
Are we not always going to deal with that – our expectations from ourselves, our expectations from our kids, of our selves for our kids? What if we try – to build our expectations of ourselves of want we want for ourselves, not any other influencing factor
Of course, easier said than done, we are not leading a hermit’s life here. However, what if we at least try to prioritise ourselves before anything else and work around that plan? That would automatically take care of the expectations that we deal with for ourselves. And then what if, we apply the same principle, on what we expect for our kids?
They are not getting the same ‘over stimulation’ like other kids. However, do we genuinely feel that that is what they need? And if the answer is no, let’s do what we feel is the best for our kid/s.
Will they be able to compete is a world which is bringing up a ‘know it all about everything’ generation of kids? Well, the way I think about that is, if he has that one thing which he is good at or he loves he does not need to know it all.
Do all of us need to raise CEOs and ‘world changers’ here, absolutely not! We need to raise kids – and as clichéd as it may sound – who love the rain, stand by their friends when they need them, can handle when life throws challenges at them. With core values which will get them through life strong and happy.
Makes me think, minimalistic parenting just feels about taking a path which feels right for us…But then it’s not the holy grail.
S: I hear what you are saying. And yes, while I agree with all the core values we need to bring up kids with, I am not completely on board with decluttering completely. We don’t all need to raise CEOs, but we need to raise them with enough awareness and ‘education’ (for the lack of a better term), should they choose to become one in future.
By education, I mean exposure of sorts. Because kids are their own people. At the end of the day, they are the ones who will decide who they want to be. And if they grow up without that particular ‘dot’ in their lives, they are the ones poorer for it.
There should be a middle path, I think. One example is how we used to rotate toys for kids when they were babies. Instead of throwing things out completely off our lives, we ‘rest’ them for a while. Recycle it after a given period of time. If needed bring it back for a test run, before we decide we can completely do without it.
R, do you realize how privileged we sound though – as we talk carelessly of giving stuff and taking away stuff for our kids.
So which brings me to think that just implementing ‘minimalistic parenting’ on its own is not going to be anything other than a fad. We need to make our kids aware – of the world that is out there!
Of people who have these things and more as well as the people who aren’t as lucky and privileged.
R: Hmm, maybe we need a mix of ‘differently raised’ kids for a balanced future I guess.
A version of this was earlier published here.
Picture credits: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
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