I have two kiddos, ages 3 and 1, and I’ve gradually begun simplifying and enriching things a little at a time. I forgot how it started – probably a little over a year ago when I was trying to eat healthily and lose some baby weight. Making small changes for the better makes you want to carry that over to other aspects of your life (a fact that the book points out as a sort of natural progression). I, too, feel “allergic to clutter” as Liz said, and I get edgy and stressed out when things are strewn around all over the house.
In wanting to be a good wife and mother, keep my family happy and healthy, I’ve been researching things here and there about health, hygiene and diet. We’ve been progressing on our journey into eating more healthy, less-refined foods (aside: I just got Nourishing Traditions from the library, and it’s such an eye-opener – I hope to write about some of my findings here at a later date); but there’s always something that could be changed, tweaked. Let’s face it, no one’s perfect. There’s always room for improvement!
At such young ages, my kids already have lots of Stuff – mainly given by other people, but also from my desire to provide good, “educational,” “stimulating” things for them. Rachel’s Downsizing Challenge really got to me, and it came at just the right time when I was already thinking something had to be done. It was SO refreshing paring down toys and possessions, not holding on to every single article of clothing “just in case.”
In chapter one, the correlation Dr. Payne made between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in war-torn countries and the exact same symptoms of children in the Western world was simply staggering, shocking. I will be honest – I find it hard to disagree while not judge at the same time, and I know every situation is relative. I’d probably feel different if I were in another person’s shoes. But when Dr. Payne spoke of ADD, ADHD, etc. and its prevalence in society, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly that it’s mainly the result of the environment in which we live. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the negative things we experience – sickness, allergies, “disorders” – are due in large part because of our choices not only as individuals, but as society as a whole. We may take steps – baby steps, big steps, whatever – to make changes here and there, but it’s difficult to change your way of thinking about everything to which you’ve become accustomed.
I sincerely believe that our instinct to protect our children will be what motivates us to change. For me, that’s so true. In the past, I may have thought this healthy change would be nice, or one day I’d get around to doing thus and so… but it really hits home when you’re striving to make changes for your family, your children. Spending more money on healthy foods is a no-brainer when you’re concerned with the welfare of your children. The more informed you are, the more educated choices you can make as a parent. Once you realize less is more, it gives you the freedom to unload all the Stuff bogging you down – both physically and mentally.
Children nowadays grow up so quickly, and as Dr. Payne writes, the pace of our daily lives is increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood. In essence, children are losing their childhood. As a mother, this scares the heck out of me. Not only do I want my children to retain their innocence as long as possible and have happy memories; but I want them to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment, one that will help shape them as creative, loving, contributing individuals. Since the outside world is seriously lacking and terribly misguided, it’s my job to create that environment for them.
This paragraph towards the end of the chapter sums it up nicely:
Why simplify? The primary reason is that it will provide your child with greater ease and well-being. Islands of being, in the mad torrent of constant doing. With fewer distractions their attention expands, their focus can deepen, and they have more mental and physical space to explore the world in the manner their destiny demands.
I am being inspired to make these changes for the better both because of the progress I have already seen and in the excitement I feel in anticipation of what the future holds. It feels refreshing, invigorating, freeing, shedding the excess and unwanted, making room for the things that really matter and having the energy to focus on those things. Hoping to homeschool one day definitely has its own impact on my choices as a mother, since I will be with my kids All. The. Time.
What frightens me the most is not being able to shield my kids no matter how hard I try. There’s always some new study, fads touted as gospel, and if I don’t go along with them I’m a “bad person.” For instance, my pediatrician was taken aback when I told her I stopped giving milk to my children to drink. And people are often surprised that my young children are with me all the time as opposed to being socialized in daycare. The truth often seems hidden behind what the government, Big Business, wants us to know – the truth about refined foods, antibiotics, education, and so forth.
Susie’s comment resonated with me when she said that “Simplification for me is about letting go of the ‘thought-clutter’ of modern life and letting the littles in to fill that space.” Too often I’m caught up in what I need to get done, cross of my list, that the kids are almost a nuissance when they want my attention. I’m always trying to plan ahead, and while this can be a good thing, it can definitely get in the way of treasuring each moment. This is probably the biggest simplification hurdle for me – the change within.