3 Tips for Minimalist Parenting

My son doesn’t do a lot in terms of “enrichment” activities. While he does take piano lessons and is involved in 4-H and Cub Scouts, and we’re looking for some type of physical/sports thing for him to do, I don’t see much need to spend several hours in my car each week shuttling him to several activities.

One of the illusions of being busy┬áthat many of us have has to do with where we’re taking our children all the time. And, even though I do sign my son up for day a couple day camps in the summer, I don’t see much use in cluttering up his time — any more than I want to clutter up my time.

If you want to apply some minimalist principles to your parenting style, here are 3 tips to get you started:

1. Decide What’s Most Important

Your first task is to decide what’s important for your family. I like my son to engage in activities that teach him skills, which is why he does 4-H and Scouting. I also think that introducing him to cultural experiences and the arts is important. Figure out which activities are most important to you, and decide where your priorities are. Focus on the things that are most important, and get rid of everything else. Don’t get caught up with doing things that society or your peers say you’re “supposed” to do.

2. Don’t Swoop In To Solve All Their Problems

Minimalist parenting is about stepping back, rather than hovering all the time. While you don’t have to be hands-off, it can be a good idea to let your child solve age-appropriate problems on his or her own. Sometimes, rather than trying to “fix” our son’s difficulties or “make” him feel better, we let him storm up to his room, and lay on his bed. After he’s cooled off, we let him come down and talk about his issues, rather than talk at him about how he’s “supposed” to react.

And sometimes, when he wants us to solve his issues or make everything “perfect”, all we can do is remind him that life’s not fair, and that he does need to learn to deal with disappointment. Kids are likely to grow up able to handle their problems, or at least not buckle at the first sign of opposition, if they understand failure, disappointment, and overcoming difficulty through persistence from an early age.

3. Use a Schedule

Sometimes, we think that everything has to be new and stimulating. New experiences every week. Different foods for dinner every night. However, the reality is that kids can use a little structure — and it can help you maintain your sanity as well. When your schedule is constantly in flux, it’s hard to provide the stability that many of us need.

It’s ok to have favorite meals in the regular rotation. Sure we have Indian food a couple times a month. But most of our meals revolve around some basic items. We don’t get particularly bored, and when variety shows up, we are happier with it. Even variety tends to get boring if you are too used to it.

Sure you should travel (I love travel) and experience new things. But you don’t have to make novelty a constant part of life.

What do you think? What are your tips for minimalist parenting?

Image source: GollyGforce via Flickr

About the Author

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger. See more of her writing at MirandaMarquit.com. Her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger is available from Amazon.