Simplicity Monday: Too Much

Are we building our families on the four pillars of “too much”:  too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast? I believe that we are.  But I also believe that we don’t mean to be.  I know it for a fact, and I’ve seen it many times, that parents can bring fresh inspiration and attention to the flow of family life. – Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne with Lisa Ross, page XI, Introduction

I think the most well-meaning and loving parents can get caught up in this.  This year, as many of my readers know, was a difficult one and has been a real wake-up call to me to cut my life, our family’s life, down to the things and the people that I hold most dear, the people and things that nourish us as a family.  It is liberating, it is freeing, it is rejuvenating.

I think many parents actually have an easier time with going through material things and getting rid of and simplifying in that area.  However, when it comes to “too many choices, too much information and too fast”, it can be more difficult.    It also can mean hard choices.   One example of “too many choices”, is in activities.  Many of the parents I know whose children are involved in lots of activities are in them simply because  it sort of creeps up, for one, and for number two, we are so lucky in these times that we live in that there are many good activities!    At least, on the surface it can seem that many of these activities are “good”.

However, if we take a closer look, we see the displacement of the family life that “too many” activities cause, and also that many of the activities actually are “too fast” for the age.  I posted this link on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, but here is a good example by a noted orthopedic surgeon in regards to children in competitive sports:  http://www.cleveland.com/dman/index.ssf/2013/02/noted_surgeon_dr_james_andrews.html

“Too much information” can also be difficult.  In an effort to not be the Continue reading

Screen Time Rules

I love the writings and musings of  Elizabeth Foss and her mighty blog, In The Heart of My Home.  She is a lovely mother to nine children of varying ages,and wrote this all-encompassing post about “Screen Rules”.  I do hope you check it out:  http://www.elizabethfoss.com/reallearning/2013/07/screen-rules.html

Some of these rules are really wonderful for all of us, especially as homeschooling mothers.  Wouldn’t life in your home run more smoothly if your computer or phone was tucked away by 9 AM and not taken out again until school and chores were over? And,  I really appreciate the integrity represented here as the public image created on the Internet should always be what a person really is in his or her heart. I know many of my readers have younger children, but this would be a great list to tuck away and bring out for discussion with older children when the time is right.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Simplicity Monday: Reducing Time In The Car

Americans, in most parts of the United States, do have a love affair with their automobiles.  After all, here you can drive eight hours or more and be in the same state, whereas in most places in Europe you can cross several different countries during that time!  The United States is very large indeed!

And our urban areas often sprawl.  I live in a sprawling Southern metropolitan area that covers about twenty counties.  We have just about everything and anything one would want to do – but it often comes at a high driving price.

I love this insight by Jack Petrash in his book, “ Covering Home: Lessons On The Art of Fathering from the Game of Baseball”:

I can still remember my parents packing the car for our summer vacation.  The trunk of our ‘52 Ford was filled to the capacity with suitcases and boxes of food.  The back seat belonged to my brother and me and we were told in no uncertain terms that we had better behave.  “You are going to be in the car for a long time.  Bring something to play with and don’t fight.  This will be a long trip.”

That “long trip” was a fifty-mile drive that we made once a year to stay at a little motel on a small lake on Long Island.  Nowadays, this distance is a daily commute.  Back then, during most months, I was not in the car for even two hours.”

Spending hours in a car is difficult on small children, and on us as well.  It is an area that can almost creep up on us as we realize the amount of time we have spent in the car in the past week, the past month, the past year.  My husband and I  were driving back from his parent’s home yesterday and we looked at each other and marveled how many hours we must have spent in a car together in the past 25 years – together, without children and together with children.

I think there are some simple ways to think about reducing time in the car, and the first step is to being aware and wanting to change that pattern for your children.  Spontaneous, outside play at home is far more important than being in a car.  As Jack Petrash writes, “If our children today are wired and wound up, it is often because they have been denied an outlet for their nervous energy.”  So if your children do not seem robust, but instead whiny, difficult, demanding, nervous and anxious – double check how much time you are in the car!

To reduce car time think of: Continue reading

Emptiness

In many ways, this has been one of the best summers I have ever had.  It has been a series of carefree camping, swimming and kayaking dates,  interspersed with lots of time with friends and family.  It has been wonderful and healing for my soul in so many ways.

My friend Catherine wrote a post about emptiness and about having compassion for oneself.  It is a must-read, as is the post she linked to as well: http://catherine-et-les-fees.blogspot.com/2013/06/emptiness.html

It so resonated with me because underneath my really fun summer, emptiness and grief has been a theme of this whole year for me.  Time can be so healing, but yet not enough time has passed, so those emotions and events are still there in my soul, digesting and breaking down.

Empty.  Drained. Exhausted.

Sad.

Not full, but empty.

There is still laughter and fun, but it is there underneath, this feeling.

Sometimes life is like this tide of outward expansion, inward contraction…full and empty, alone and then in companionship.  But it can be so hard when one feels so unsafe, so unprotected, so…challenged and swimming upstream at every turn.  It can be so hard when your “ho hum” has left the building and run away because you feel so raw about everything.

Yet, a curious thing has come out of this summer, simply because I really took some steps to protect myself in rest, to protect myself in peace.  The emptiness has not gone away, there are really raw moments,  but I am starting to see it all as something different.  I am starting to see it all as gifts.

A gift of Continue reading