Simplicity Tips from Little Acorn Learning
Reduce or Eliminate Television and Electronic Media
This may not be possible entirely for adults but it can significantly be reduced when home. Believe it or not, more electronic use usually equal more stress. Spend time keeping track of how much time you and your family members are truly spending in front of screens. What other activities could you be doing if even half of that time was freed up? Young children especially have no reason to be plugged in. Give your children a gift of a childhood full of nature, crafting, domestic tasks and practical life skills. To catch a break, try keeping a surprise craft or simple toy in a closet to pull out instead of turning on the TV. Ask yourself if you could also use the break and choose to pull away from what you are doing and be fully present with your child. Go outside. Dig in the dirt. Plant flowers. Play in the snow.
Keep Empty Space in Your Calendar
We all want to fill our children’s lives with wonderful things to do and experiences but oftentimes children instead are tired, overscheduled and pulled in way too many directions. A true gift is to give your child the beauty of an empty afternoon to enjoy his or her playthings, go outside and be with family. Numerous playdates and lessons are not a necessary part of a child’s life and in truth, our society needs to put emphasis back on the family unit. The only way to truly do this is to spend more time as a family! Take a good look at your calendar. How many places do you all need to be? How much free time is available for you and your children to enjoy the things you’ve worked so hard for? Make a choice to eliminate activities and block out time where you do not have to be anywhere.
We cannot be the caregivers we hope to be if we are taking time to truly care for ourselves. Make a commitment to spend 15 minutes or more per day in complete silence. You may need to ask a spouse or friend to help you so you can achieve this. If at all possible, spend some or much of this time outdoors. Let your mind be empty. When thoughts come into your mind try to redirect your attention to your breath instead.
Create a Healthy Rhythm and Routine to your Days
Begin by simply making a list of the things that must get done each day. Try to break them up into three groups. For example, if you must do a load of laundry each day – break the process up into wash, dry and fold. These three steps can be spread among morning, afternoon and evening. Before you know it you will have a basic outline of what must get done three times per day. Make a commitment to take time to do these three basic routines each day and you will see a huge difference in your space and attitude. In addition, create daily activities for your home and children. For example, Monday can be your baking day. Tuesday can be painting day and so on. Include your children in all of the activities of your home. Small children love to imitate and can be given a basket of hand towels to “fold” while you are doing the laundry. Instead of trying to preoccupy them during this time, include them.
Stop and Be Present
When things seem to be moving toward hectic and you feel yourself frazzled. Stop. Just stop. Release the need to do anything but breathe, look, listen and be. Tell yourself that you do not have to do anything. You can just absorb the moment you are in as imperfect as it may be. Accept and allow it. Sit down if you have to. In addition, when you find idle time in your life try to stop your mind from spiraling into thoughts of all you need to do, etc. and instead take a deep breath and truly pay attention to your surroundings. Listen very closely. Look at the details around you. Breathe.
Rethink and Reduce Toys
Consider simple, open-ended toys for your children: a few wooden blocks, a cloth doll, play dough, old pots and pans. Toys that do not require batteries invite open-ended play. This type of play sparks children’s creativity and requires them to finish the story on their own. Many electronic toys have a predetermined ending – leaving little room for imagination causing the child to lose interest quickly. Loud toys are over-stimulating for both children and adults alike! Blinking lights, loud sound and so much going on is a lot for a small child to take in. Take a good look around your home. How loved are your child’s belongings?
When deciding to purchase an item for your child, be selective and ask yourself the following questions: What purpose will the toy have? Does your child already have this type of item? Does it engage all five senses and encourage imagination? It is much better to offer fewer, higher quality toys that your child will get more use out of than an abundance of toys that will go unappreciated.
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