I’m behind. Everyone else has started discussing chapter three, and this has probably been the meatiest, most inspiring section of the book. The weather has been so nice – we’ve been getting outside, going to the playground, taking advantage of our membership at the zoo. As soon as I step inside, the housework yells my name and criticizes me for putting it off. *sigh* I wonder how many times I can renew this book.
Perspective plays a huge role in how we handle things. These days it seems I’m either really excited and passionate about the choices I’ve made and continue to make for my family, or I’m feeling totally stressed and exhausted at the mere thought of taking care of everything and everyone. Trying to find affordable organic foods without processed, GM, or soy ingredients can prove difficult, and striving to make healthy foods from scratch and live out these choices can often seem daunting and time-consuming.
The process of simplifying – although overwhelming at first when faced with how much Stuff we really have – leads to a more peaceful environment. The concept of less is more was the foundation of this chapter. With less, there is more room for creativity, space, interest, imagination, and time. The author gave specific ideas for how to tackle different areas and posessions within the home, whittling them down and optimizing the remains.
I have consigned and donated many of the kids’ toys, and the house feels so much lighter, airier, with fewer things to fight over, trip on, and clean up. I feel more clear on my direction for their upbringing – what kinds of toys they play with, book they read, activities they enjoy, even foods they eat.
I resonated with some of the other mamas reading this book – I had never considered weeding through our stack of children’s books. The adult books in our home – cookbooks, novels, other resources – are already at a minimum since I have only kept a few favorites and rely on the library when I’m looking for something new. And let’s face it – I don’t exactly have much time to read these days! But the kiddos’ stash… I love their books! I love that they get excited about books! I finally went through and removed those that were ripped or chewed or otherwise damaged, a few titles with movie characters or hand-me-downs that don’t get much love. I have library books in a separate basket and board books on their own shelf so the little one has easy access, but I still fret about the amount we still have. Deborah made me feel a tad better in her comment addressing [potential] homeschoolers and their home library.
The process of weeding out is a never-ending one. I have done a few big purges already, and am trying not only to remain consistent with simple choices, but to get rid of excess as I come across it. I have a couple bags that are perpetually being filled with things to give away or donate – toys that the kids don’t use, outgrown clothes, kitchen items and knick-knacks.
Whenever I’m out with my kids – at a store, at the park, on the playground, even at someone else’s home – I’m conscious of potential criticism. I let my kids have their freedom; I don’t hover and nag and direct. When they fall or get hurt, I don’t necessarily rush over, but wait to see their reaction. At home, I often leave them to play by themselves, rarely playing with them, other than to read a story or assist here and there. I’ve often feel I should be doing more (there’s that word again), entertaining them or providing an activity of some sort, but reading how children’s imagination and creativity can flourish on its own was a huge affirmation for me. And I’ve noticed that my kids seem to fight less and become more creative if left to their own resources. Since I plan… er, rather, hope to unschool, I believe this is an important lesson to learn.
Trying to get the extended family on board with some of these choices – especially where food, toys, and books are concerned – has been difficult. I will stand up for my choices, let my wishes be made known, but I won’t bully them into submission and can’t see threatening them with consequences for not adhering to our wishes. I worry about my decision to homeschool, even just being a stay-at-home-mom. Even now, whenever I’m out with my children, I’m bombarded with talk of daycare and preschool; people are always assuming my 3-year-old is in school or talk to her like she’ll be riding the bus soon. I never considered myself a crunchy granola mom, but the more I learn, the more benefits I see to making natural choices, getting back to basics. Sadly, this seems to be unpopular in today’s artificial, shiny, sugar-laden modern society.