Following on from my last post about children needing to connect to nature and having the unscheduled time to do so, I thought I’d explain the influences on our parental thinking, simple parenting in short. Today there are a lot of opportunities out there in the form of clubs and activities for our little ones, and part of me thinks we are falling into a bit of a trap that we have to sign up to lots of these for our little people to have fun. I was just as guilty of trying to get my trio to experience as much as possible, and trying to participate with them in their little lives as much as I could. Especially as a stay at home mother since the twins were born. I felt I needed to justify my being at home by how much I did with them. Over the past year or so I have taken a big step back and let them get on a lot more on their own. They’ve learnt to interact and play better with each other, use more imaginative play, and a massive benefit for us is they generally sort out their disagreements themselves, trying very hard to use “nice voices and listening ears” rather than screaming and shouting at each other (of course that still happens too it is not all plain sailing! The important thing is they are learning to resolve confrontation). I’ve a few key books that I keep by my bed now that have reformed my parental thinking.
The first one is “The Idle Parent” by Tom Hodgkinson. The book writes about how if we leave children alone and give them space and time, they will develop themselves into happy and contented people, who are confident and inquisitive. More importantly it gives today’s parents permission to back off and let children get on, a concept that was normal when we were growing up, but now micro management parenting seems to be more the norm.
The second one is “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim Payne. This embraces the concept that less is more where bringing up children is concerned. Lives are getting faster and busier which is having a huge impact on childhoods and instead of being a happy carefree time, it becomes all rather overwhelming. Everything needs to be streamlined; schedules, toys, home environments, media, and parental involvement. But also we need to establish basic rhythms and basic rituals to our day, to ease tensions and prevent a child becoming overwhelmed.
The third book is “The Danish Way of Parenting” by Jessica Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl. I have a Scandinavian background (Norway) and all the Scandinavian countries always fare well on any happiness survey, which is largely due to their upbringing. It gives advice on how to convert our parenting styles to a similar way that the Danes deal with the same main parenting challenges.
Parenting is such a hard job and there are so many critics out there and sources of advice, and then of course there is seeing what others are doing around you and should you be doing that too? We still incorporate some outside of formal school activities, and the big passion our little lady has is dancing (ballet, tap, and modern) so she attends classes to fulfil this desire, but generally their time is very unscheduled outside of school. However, once school is out at the end of this term, we, as a family, are looking forward to embracing these parenting concepts even more and applying them to our children’s methods of learning ie no formal education. Our learning will be interest led, wherever the child’s interest takes them (instead of subject led). I will be learning an extraordinary amount alongside my trio as we take on this big learning adventure. They will be teaching me (unknowingly most of the time), very different from teacher led classes. Rather than having any tests or targets to reach, the child will learn in their own time and at their own pace, and most importantly in their own way….not being dictated methods of learning to, which will in turn improve creativity and problem solving. Learning will not just be happening within specific time frames either, with portions of time set aside for a specific subject, but will become more of a fused process all year round. Life will become even more child led rather than adult led, and hopefully simple parenting will be the method.
Children have their whole lives ahead of them to be grown ups and deal with all the issues that brings, but only a short time to “just be” children; happy and silly, having fun 🙂 Of course I will still be there in the background and providing resources, and of course they will still have toys and opportunities to get involved in organised activities, but these concepts will not be the main focus. What will be is standing back and letting the playing, crafting, and learning take them on their own little journeys.