The cincher on my decision to do this has really been this book:
This book is really good.
I would say it is a must-read for every intuitive-minded parent who feels like something is just not right with the way our society approaches childhood, and child-rearing. I could go on for a long time about all the awesome things that are in here, but for simplicity sake I will stick to the topic at hand--see how I tied that in? Im already meeting my goal!
A large section of this book is dedicated to ways that you can enrich your children's (and really your own) time by simplifying both your family's material possessions as well as schedules. My hope is that we will be able to enrich our family's time by paring down in the following areas:
Simplifying what we eat: The paleo diet does this beautifully. Not only does buying no packaged and processed food reduce the amount of garbage and waste we make, but the meal choices are very simple and nourishing. Allowing Sadie to help (legitimately) with meal preparation--doing things like washing vegetables or stirring & seasoning has almost eliminated her fussy eating...except for mushrooms. She very politely informed me that, "I don't care for mushrooms, mom, but you and dad can go ahead and eat 'em all up." I'll take it.
Simplifying what we wear: Can I just say that the laundry situation in my house has become REE-donkulous. Between all the clothes that the kids receive as gifts/ hand-me-downs, and what we buy them there. are. piles. It's hard when they are little and go through sizes so fast. I swear 2/3 of Eli's clothes are two small for him, so there they sit in random spots while I dig through the unfolded laundry to find that one pair of pajamas I'm looking for. I am never caught up on laundry. And me--I have a ton of clothes just sitting around in piles and I always wear the same five old outfits, so why do I need them all? To make matters worse, we seem to have a bazillion sheets, towels and blankets that always need washed because a diaper blew out or a baby puked, or something. Kids are messy. I get it. But I have this thought, that If I can reduce the over all amount of textiles in our house there will be less washing and more importantly, less folding and putting away, which is the part of laundry that I can never seem to get to. I would also like our things to be good quality. Nothing worse than a cheap shirt for your kid that shrinks up to nothing the first time you wash it-- or seams that fray and come un-done. I don't have time to mend that stuff, so when I do buy new for any of us, its going to be fewer things of more lasting quality. I will also try to make stuff myself, whenever realistic.
Simplifying our schedule: This is pretty easy for me, I stay home with the kids, so have a little more flexibility in setting the pace for our days---but still, I need to observant of not rushing my children from enriching activities so I can drag them along on this or that errand that needs run, etc. My one major goal is to be able to sit down for dinner together at a reasonable time, as a family with no interruptions. Every night. I think that is becoming such a lost art, but it's so, so important to the heart and soul of family.
Reducing screen time: We don't have t.v. but the computer can be just as bad. After seeing how Sadie's imaginative play began to flourish, and her less-desirable behaviors drastically decreased when our computer was broken for a month I am a firm believer that less=more when it comes to time spent on electronic devices--for all of us.
Downsizing the toy collection: We have really tried to keep toy clutter to a minimal amount in our home, but it creeps in. Payne recommends the following approach to reducing the amount of toys (there is some sound research behind this--and it very true in my personal experience as well) in your home so your children are not overwhelmed and can use the things they have imaginatively, and care for them. The process is to gather up all your toys and get rid of half of them. Keep only toys that you know can hold your child's interest for multiple play sessions. Fixed toys (items that only do one specific kind of play) get chucked. Toys that encourage corrosive play--in the garbage, toys that are broken and unfixible...garbage. When you are down to half your toys, divide that pile in half again. Those are probably all the more toys a child needs. At this point you can take the second half of the toys and create a toy lending library, so that your child can periodically swap out a toy for one in the library which is like getting a new toy with no net gain. I would also like to make sure that for the most part, the toys we do have our made out of natural materials like wood, wool, and other things that aren't ridden with chemicals that are toxic to youngun's body's (and souls.)
Reduce the amount of plastic in our lives:
I don't think there is much more to say about this. The only true way to reduce the amount of plastic in your home is to step back from the consumreistic rush of buy, buy, buy. If we absolutely need something and it contains plastic then we will get it--but it needs to be essential to the functionality of our household.
So there it is. I read somewhere once that by writing it down (or saying it out loud) you make it so. Well this is my manifesto for 32--it seems like it should be simple enough;)