July 26, 2010
Living A Simple, Green Life Could Save Family's Sanity
Confined to my bed for a brief stint on bed rest, I did a fair share of online reading. I have come across so many articles as of late that are written by parents who are complaining about how hard it is to be a parent, how their kids have made their lives unmanageable, and how they are always on the go at a frantic pace which leaves them exhausted and burnt out. Many say they wish they could return to the "simpler" times of their own youth, when they rode bikes until sunset and didn't have a care in the world. My question is: who's stopping them?
It's my belief that children should teach you how to slow down and re-prioritize your life, not make you run a mad dash from one place to the next in order to fit it all in. We've all heard that "over-scheduling" kids does them more harm than good, so why do so many parents in this country continue to subscribe to societal mayhem and then go on to complain about it? We have a choice. We can choose not to have playdates, extracurricular classes and lessons, summer camps... granted I completely understand if any of the above are used for childcare while a parent must earn an income, that's another story entirely. I happen to be talking about just being "busy" for no reason at all.
I think we all need to slow down and simplify our lives. Paint with your kids at home, read to them, unwind, just be. Even though there's such pressure to get kids enrolled in school, we're waiting until our daughter is 4 to have her start preschool. Since I work from home and can take care of her, we wanted her to have this time with her baby brother... and frankly, why should I become one of the harried and resentful moms I keep reading about, trying to get her to and from school with a newborn in tow, when she'd be just as happy at home with us?
With our second baby due in a month, I have been guilty of getting caught up in the "how am I going to do it all?" anxiety. My days are already full caring for one child and meeting all of my writing deadlines. Toss a newborn into that mix, and yes, it will be tough... especially given the exhaustion of getting up every 2 hours to nurse.
But the bottom line is, I marvel at women on a daily basis who "do it all" and have five plus kids and/or much more demanding circumstances! My theory is that it's all about the perspective of the parents. If parents run around feeling crazed and out of breath and stressed at all times, that will trickle throughout the household and obviously directly impact the kids. And shouldn't kids be protected from stress so they can enjoy childhood? Don't you think a kid would much rather be at home playing with you than being carted around in the backseat of the car on their way to an activity, watching you meltdown more and more over traffic or time constraints?
My goal as a parent is to simplify, which will in turn impact our family's carbon footprint as well. Not running to and fro on unnecessary car trips, not being forced to buy or consume things because we're committed to someone else's schedule or demands.
I'm not saying that when my kids start school, life won't get more filled with obligations and activities, and of course, I want them to be involved in whatever extent they choose, but as parents, it's our job to help them navigate what's important and to make sure it gets seamlessly woven into the fabric of our lives so it is seen as a benefit and not a detriment.