Teach the children so it will not be necessary to teach the adults.
It is unknown when these words came from the mouth of Abraham Lincoln. They ring just as true today as they most likely did in the late 19th century. Children teach as much as they learn. They help adults understand joy, purpose, innocence, and fulfillment. Sure the children today love technology but they also love mud puddles, scented crayons, and fireflies. They live life with equal parts smiles and tears; unashamed of either. They wake up with optimism and go to sleep with hope. It stands to reason then that the lessons they share extend to everyday life. Take for instance minimalism. They don’t need a guide or case studies to read through. They inherently understand that one friend down the block is better than a roomful of toys. That is why the most important lessons about life and minimalism are learned from the life of a child.
Less is more. Sit down at the supper table with a child. Give him a plate crafted with a meat, several vegetables, and then followed by a desert. Sit back and watch him tackle the textures and colors. Watch him scrape some of this over there and some of that over there. The child spends more time exploring than eating. There is just too much and is overwhelming. Give that same child a portion of one to two items. LESSON: Know what you like and invest in that. Don’t complicate the situation by adding too much variety.
Clothes are to be worn and not to impress others. Typically speaking a child does three things with clothing. 1) Play in them. 2) Get them dirty. 3) Remove them. It is rare that a child will put on a certain article of clothing because the other kids in the 2nd grade will be impressed. There simply is no pressure to impress others. LESSON: Wear clothing that you like and that serves your purpose.
Possessions and character are not synonymous. A name-brand shirt does not make a child a better person. He plays with others indiscriminately. There is relatively little prejudice in the life of a child. LESSON: Surround yourself with people of good character. Judge them on their hearts and not their toys.
Naptime is as important as reading time. Children play and they play hard. Whether chasing each other on the playground or racing cars on the rug, they commit to their playing. When they don’t get a good nap as needed they typically fall into an emotional place that causes them to act out; crying, fussing, stomping, etc. The child’s conduct is altered by their exhaustion. LESSON: Take time to rest. Allow yourself to get a full night’s sleep. Shut down the technology and fall into a peaceful slumber.
The more toys you drag out, the more time you spend cleaning up. The nature of a child is to drag things out of the closet and the toybox without any concern for cleaning up. They love to see all they have and have everything at their fingertips. They tend to gravitate to just one or two toys though and soon realize that there is no real joy in being overwhelmed. LESSON: The more toys we have in life – the more we own – the longer it takes to care for them, clean them, and organize them for further use.
Maybe we have children not to teach, but to learn.
What has your son or daughter taught you about minimalism or the simple life? Let us know in the comments below or share your story with us on Facebook.