Today’s lifestyle urges for busy.It urges for better. We have things like Pinterest (which I love) and Instagram which show these amazingly executed birthday parties, outings and homes. Children in gorgeous matching branded outfits enjoying sensory play, eating picture worthy lunchboxes and doing crafts with their Mom’s. When you think back to your childhood though, what do you remember? None of the above I would imagine. Because you and I grew up in the time of simple. And, there is magic in a simple childhood.

What Was Your Childhood Like?

I grew up in the 90s. It was the cusp of the world changing with technology advances bringing us the internet and mobile phones. But it was still on the cusp of simple: the world was safe enough to go biking after school with my friends, knowing to be home only by the time the street lights switched on, we hung with our friends, without cellphones attached to us and whittled the time away doing goodness knows what. In summer, we swam entire days away at the beach. In winter, we watched cartoons on TV and did drawings or puzzles. Life was simple. And even though life was not perfect – we had our fair share of family dramas – there was magic in the simplicity.

Image shows a young girl in an orange knit jumper looking down into the palm of her hand. Graphic reads: How to simplify your child's life.

Today

Today is busy. And while there are awesome changes (hello cafe scene) there are also many changes which take away from the magic of childhood. Kids are glued to screens more than ever – in cars, at home, getting their own cellphone at a young age, joining social media before they are legally allowed, watching youtube while out for lunch with the family and so on. There is less outdoor messy play and more indoor sedentary time. And it’s busy for the parents too – with expectations of the latest toy / product for birthday’s and Christmas, the pressure of Pinterest worthy cakes for celebrations, and Insta worthy parties. Let’s not forget the social pressure of meeting educational milestones, being ahead, joining in with multiple extra curricular activities as well. It’s a melting pot for stress and tension. 

If our grandmothers and great-grandmothers could see the pressure modern mothers put on themselves, they’d think we were insane.- Bunmi Laditan

Having young children myself, I have seen many a mother busy entertaining her child(ren) – baking, organising activities for when they wake up from their nap, needing to be out the house all day every day doing things. And I’ll say here – this is an each to their own situation as some people thrive off busy, they enjoy doing all the things – so there is no judgement. I am not one of those people though – and this is part of why I write about this – it is okay to say no to being busy. Your children will not miss out on anything by having more of an empty schedule. Because you see, white space on the calendar is the equivalent to more space in your life to be. More space to enjoy those things you love, and to create the life you want.

Benefits to a Simple Childhood

Reduced Overwhelm

As noted before, our society is more complex than ever. And because of this, kids receive a ton of input on a daily basis – from devices, advertising, expectations placed on them from society in terms of education, milestones, development and so on. Our lives are more sedentary which would assume they are outside less doing the things that kids are designed to do – exploring, being curious, getting messy. Simplifying life and reducing the noise creates more space for kids to be kids – less overwhelmed, more calm and relaxed children.

More Room for Exploring Passions

As a teacher, I saw many of my students totally over committed to extra curricular activities – sports, dance groups, cultural groups, languages etc etc. Each day after school they would be going to different groups to practise, then many going home to help with chores and looking after younger siblings before doing their homework. Somehow it’s become a thing that busier = better, and that’s in regards to our kids too. But the question is, do they love doing every single activity? A simple childhood means providing room for them to do what they are truly passionate about.

Increased Creativity and Independence

When children aren’t busy with an abundance of toys, devices, activities, groups and input – they have the time available to create their own fun. Play is the most powerful form of self-directed learning – and it is so important in their little lives. Encouraging play both indoor and outdoors leads to more curious, creative and independent children.

Image shows a preschool aged child in jacket and beanie, on the beach in winter. They are bending down to see something on the sand.
Outdoor play leads to more creative, curious, independent kids.

How to Simplify their Childhood

The answer is simple! (Excuse the pun)

  1. Less Screen Time
  2. More Play
  3. Less Structured Activities
  4. Create a Rhythm
  5. Get Out into Nature

Related:

A Slower Family Rhythm: How to Make Your Own

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