Minimalism is a lifestyle choice, often referred to as living intentionally to focus on what is important instead of material pursuits. Being a minimalist may seem at odds with being a parent, as parenting is often associated with buying things and doing more for our children. However, the principles of minimalist parenting extend beyond material things and can improve parenting when you focus on what truly matters.

parenting at child level

#1 Buying less entertainment to be more engaged

If your young child watches Youtube videos, you may find that some of the popular content is on buying a new toy, opening it up and playing with the toy. While even young children seem to be tempted by material stuff, it is a parent’s decision whether to acquiesce to their demands. The minimalist parent would favor not buying something to keep a child engaged but instead focusing on engaging with the child.

What’s good with this minimalist approach?

For one, buying less means that there is less for you to clean up! But more importantly, your child can then focus on the fewer things, and take better care of them.

#2 Be there for the child, but not be everywhere

The minimalist principle also applies to things that we do for our children. Helicopter parenting, or being over-protective of our children and watching over their every move (or even doing things for them) is not what a minimalist parent would practice. Instead, the minimalist parent would allow the child to try out things, be independent and exercise their natural curiosity about the world.

What’s good with this minimalist approach?

Compared to helicopter parenting, this approach is more likely to instill confidence, independence, and responsibility in a child.

Minimalist Parenting

#3 Reduce planned activity and let creativity take over

While fun activities are a good opportunity to learn new skills and for family bonding, sometimes too many activities result in the child always waiting to be entertained. Being constantly fed with activities can deprive children of the chance to take responsibility for their own time and be creative about what to do; you may be surprised with how loss your child is when he is not allowed screen time or has a planned activity.

What’s good with this minimalist approach?

Less planned activities for our children will give them more time to explore what they would like to do. Being constantly hooked on a screen or being “fed” with activities may cause the child not to give thought to doing what they like.

#4 Say no to more classes

Similarly, classes have their benefits, but they may overcrowd a child’s life and increase his anxiety and stress level, especially if it is something that he is not interested in. A minimalist parent will be very careful to first consider if the lesson is necessary, not just whether every other child seems to be taking these lessons.

What’s good with this minimalist approach?

Giving careful thought to what lessons are required based on the child’s needs and talent, and whether it is congruent with your family values, can allow the class that you have decided on to be more purposeful.

#5 Stop interfering

When children play, they take some time to negotiate with each other on the rules of participation. Sometimes the scene may be filled with bickering, some shouting or even heated arguments. You may be tempted to interfere in how they play, but doing so will remove the chance for children to figure it out for themselves.

Minimalist Parent

What’s good with this minimalist approach?

This helps the child to acquire social skills, and learn how to navigate the (sometimes) ambiguous process of negotiation!

4 tips for living a simpler life

It may be overwhelming to figure out what to remove from your child’s life and even your own. Here are four tips for living a simpler life!

1. Sorting out family values

Values are important and key to leading a simpler life – with your spouse, set out the family values and then have your children take part to select the few that the whole family feels more strongly about. For instance, if your family values are to love each other (and others), take responsibility for one’s life and have a sense of adventure, creativity and positivity, spending a lot of time watching slime videos and complaining that there is not enough time to do homework would contradict these family values.

2. Commit to taking responsibility to focus on what’s important

Sometimes it is easier to just do things out of habit and neurologically, we are wired to take the path of least resistance. However, commit to taking responsibility and focusing on what is important instead of giving up that responsibility to others.

3. Think of your values before spending

It may be your money, your time or your energy, and before you spend them, think if they are consistent with your family values. Sometimes, the decision may be easy (not wasting money on another toy) while other times it may be difficult (letting your child work out problems on his own). It is important to communicate to your child that not spending on things is not a punishment, but rather allocating resources to spend on what matters.

4. Enjoy your freedom

There is a freedom to pursue what matters when you let go of what doesn’t. Embrace this freedom and you may just find yourself loving the “minimalist” way of life and parenting!

Try this minimalist approach to parenting and you may find yourself being a more confident parent and having greater control over your time, finances and life.

Written by Mei.

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This article was first published in New Age Pregnancy.

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