In his latest Podcast ‘Simplicity Parenting’ author Kim John Payne, speaks about what our children really need to get ahead in life - more time just ‘hanging out’ with their parents. It is so easy to buy into the idea that we need to spend more money, rush around and fill our lives up trying to give our children a ‘head start’ but what we may be giving them is an anxiety problem later on.
In the Simplicity Parenting courses I run online, we talk together about ways we can just ‘be’ with our children. Rhythmical weekend family activities like walking to the local coffee shop or the local park are good, so is doing simple chores together like pegging out the washing. To make this down time together happen we need to schedule it into our family rhythm, elevating its importance and allocating it a particular time so that not even busyness can get in its way. We rarely get to just ‘be’ together unless we schedule it into our week because Heaven knows there is always so much to ‘do’!
The other thing about doing less and being more is that we are so consumed with screens these days that all our down time is taken up on them. We are so busy achieving things in life that the only way we can get a break from it is to put ourselves in front of a screen. We need to teach our children that there are other ways to have down time, to relax and not worry about anything without watching screens. In my course we always talk about things that are as fun and relaxing as watching TV. We make lists of these things - these are very important lists - and every family needs one. Some of the things that regularly appear on these lists are making a fire together, baking a cake and having a tea party and playing cards. The best place to look for ideas is in your own childhood.
This is all crazily simple and obvious stuff, but we get so caught up, that we forget about it, and then our kids grow up and have anxiety issues and we spend time and money driving them to expensive therapists to try to fix a problem that may never have developed if the child had less pressure growing up. If our children are still young, we have the power as parents to give them a secure foundation, to spend time with our hearts beating together to the same rhythm. We don’t have to do a lot of it, it is good ‘medicine’ and a little goes along way. The important thing, is that it is regular. So it’s great news when you think about it, that to help our children grow into secure adults we just need to spend more time hanging out with them, with no agenda. It’s hard to imagine anything more fun than that really, and we don’t even have to do anything.
Mary’s online Simplicity Parenting course starts next Sunday 16 May