I’m about 6 years old.
I’m in the garden along with my sister and my grandparents. We are harvesting peppermint. My sister and I are in charge of washing the peppermint stalks in big buckets of water. Shaking them out afterwards and trying to get each other as wet as possible is the best part. Then they are bundled and hung up to the dry in the garden shed. The smell of peppermint fills the shed for a few days and after a couple of weeks, we bag the leaves and then enjoy the tea throughout the winter.
My childhood was filled with moments like that. And it’s exactly what I want for my two children.
Nowadays, I’m the one bundling the stalks while my children eagerly help with washing and shaking the stalks dry. And every time we harvest the mint, I can picture my grandparents hanging the bundles to dry and the smell comes back as if it was yesterday.
But it’s not 1982 anymore.
The expectations for our children have changed. We are now worried about them being ready for Kindergarten. We wonder if we should enroll them in a music or dance or gymnastics class. Everyone is doing it. They must be on to something. We fear that not buying them the hottest new toy will leave them feeling left out. After all, it’s all their friends are talking about.
Nobody wants those feelings. Not us and not our children. So, what are we supposed to do? Can we have the best of both worlds…the simplicity we enjoyed as children and all the opportunities that are now available for our children? AND make sure they are learning and will be ready for Kindergarten and the rest of their lives when the time comes?
I’ve had these questions go through my head countless times. Looking at it from a very basic animalistic viewpoint, we ARE herd animals and it would be dangerous to stray from the herd. Fortunately, we have evolved quite a bit but that herd mentally has stuck with us. It takes a lot of courage to stray and do your own thing. And judgements come rolling in rather quickly these days, don’t they?
When my daughter was in preschool, birthday party invitation after birthday party invitation landed in our mailbox. We politely declined them all (though, I always felt the need to make up an excuse) because I didn’t think my daughter would enjoy parties with large groups of children. Then one day, I said “Let’s try it.” because I was starting to feel like she was missing out on having fun with her friends. We bought a gift, we attended the party, and my daughter didn’t enjoy one minute of it. Now, we are back to respectfully declining invitations.
So the question remains…Can we achieve both? Can we have a simpler life AND keep up with the world we live in?
My answer is: ABSOLUTELY…because every problem has a solution. You are reading this because you want to find that solution…that happy middle ground, right? To do that, we have to do a little bit of work.
Don’t worry, it’s fun…no hard work required (you’ve done enough of that all day.)
The first thing we need to do is to go back in time, back to our own childhoods. Grab a glass of wine or a cup of tea, sit back and then take a trip down memory lane. Which childhood memories come to mind? Everything counts…from the smell of your grandmother’s cookies to the cross-country camping trip to the stink of the cow manure on your parent’s farm. 🙂
This is a picture of me, my sister and my grandmother on vacation in the mountains. One of my favorite places to visit as a child.
Now, share YOUR memories in the comments.
And next week, I’m going to give you a simple system you can use as a framework to skilfully bring the best of both worlds together. PLUS I will share a personal experience I had with one of my children that cemented my believes in this approach and I haven’t looked back since. And yes, this approach works for all children and lifestyles. That’s the beauty of it.
But one step at a time.
First, leave a comment below with one or more of your memories and we will pick it up from there next week. And feel free to share it with friends and invite them to the conversation.