The past month taught me about creating a rhythm to our days and about the need, and benefit, to living simply. In fact, thinking back to when my kids were toddlers, I realized they taught us about simple living. I made a list of the things toddlers can teach us about simple living:
1. Rest is vital:
We need sleep. Good nourishing restful sleep. Not enough sleep can manifest itself in everything from over eating and throwing tantrums to more arguments with your spouse. Even now, and they are teenagers, I see how much happier, energetic and good natured my children are with enough sleep. My toddlers were happier people when they had a routine but not a packed schedule. Even now, this is especially true around busy holidays. Say yes to too many get togethers and parties and there is sure to be a meltdown. Simple living gives energy to the basic necessities and good sleep and manageable schedules are a cornerstones of this lifestyle choice.
2. Too much choice is overwhelming:
I saw this in meal time and play time every day. If I served up a plate heaping with different types of food my kids (I am blessed with a pigeon pair) played with their food instead of eating. If I served a small portion of just one or two things, it was easily identified and then polished off in no time. Same rules applied for toys. If we just sit and observe, our toddlers can teach us about simple living by being entertained for hours by something as simple as a feather or a balloon. Too many toys and they just can’t focus. The Montessori method worked much better.
3. Experiences over stuff:
We all fall into this trap. Instant gratification and the excitement on their little faces when they get that new toy or expensive game. This might last for half an hour max. They may enjoy it again and again but not with the same vim and vigor of that first time. In contrast, they got similarly excited and joyful at our music and movement class once a week or meeting a dog in the park, which we did a few times a week, was an equally thrilling experience. We used to spend hours feeding the ducks at Zoo Lake or just scootering around the tennis court.
I can remember so much about events in my life, the feeling after finishing a painting, the epic three hour phone calls with my husband when we were dating, the way I cried during Phantom of the Opera, but I can’t remember much about the things I’ve bought or owned. If I remember details about an article of clothing or my first Walkman, it’s because there is a story attached to it, something that made me laugh or cry (hopefully laugh). Our toddlers can teach us about simple living and it means having an eye for what brings the best value to your life (and theirs) and that’s usually not stuff found in the shops.
Experiences are the things that create memories and that will stick for a lifetime. Use this time well to create those memories.