Simplicity Parenting with Mary Heard: Finding Meaning in Family Life

20 August 2020

This year the home has become the centre of our lives, more than ever. In the Simplicity Parenting workshop on August 5, we explored how we can create a positive family culture that reflects our core values and nourishes and stimulates us - making life more fun and comfortable both for parents and children and finding a place where the lives of all family members naturally come together.

What we looked at in the workshop was the idea of meaningful work in the home. The image of Italian families meeting on a weekend afternoon in some one’s backyard to make huge vats of pasta sauce conjures up the image of family culture the comes out of meaningful work and connects all age groups from grandparents to toddlers. In this postindustrial society, we can come back and consciously create ‘industry’ in our lives that feeds our souls and creates new family cultures that we have chosen ourselves.

For the children born into this current generation, the capacity of doing meaningful work has been severely compromised by all the gadgets in our homes and the modern ‘throw away’ economy. Children imitate the life around them in their play and for so many of them that looks like talking on the phone and working at a computer, they do not know about looking under the bonnet of a car, changing the washer on a tap or even washing the dishes. What we can do as parents is to choose the way we bring this meaningful work back into our children’s lives. What I suggested in the Simplicity Parenting workshop is that we start with one thing that we will stop buying. It is important that we stop buying this thing otherwise the making of it is token and the meaning of making it is diminished. We make this thing because we need to make it - if we don’t make it we won’t have it. We need to choose something that is easy for us, the children can be involved with, feels nourishing and fun and is something we really like having in our lives.

Some of the ideas we explored were:

  • Giving up buying sweet treats and making biscuits on Sundays
  • Growing something in the garden that you give up buying like basil (pesto can then become your signature family dish)
  • Things like kombucha and sauerkraut making are also good family activities and children are always much more likely to eat things they have made themselves
  • I shared with the group that now that colourful socks are really in fashion our family gets cool socks and darns them instead of buying new ones (they are also very expensive)

Working together as a family reduces waste, as we consume less plastic if we make things from scratch, reduces our energy consumption as we are using our own energy instead of buying things made in factories, brings us together and gives us a sense of sovereignty over our homes while developing important life skills. It also fosters a sense of gratitude as see what actually goes into making things.

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