Nature is the best gift for your child
Last year I read a book that I really loved. It was called “Thrive” and it was written by The Huffington Post’s Ariana Huffington. It spoke about disconnecting from technology and the importance of being present in the moment. Decluttering my life has been one area that I have really concentrated on, from downsizing my friend list to using my time effectively. I have also removed all the clutter from my home (especially as its tiny!) and donated everything we do not use. This is called “minimalism” and it has been the best decision I have ever made since becoming a mother. These are my suggestions to becoming a Minimalist Mother but in no way am I telling you how to raise your child!!
Guide to Becoming a Minimalist Mother
1) Do not be lured into the “must buy” trap and instead try borrowing before you buy.
2) Buy second hand everything! From breastpump to bassinet, everything for Emilio was used except for a new mattress for the bassinet.
3) Throw the baby books out the window. Watch only calm birth videos (no One Born Every Minute) before the big day as preparation for how not-scary labour is, or read the work of renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin. All the books, all the conflicting advice … it all made me feel terrified!
4) Toys and books – are they really interested? Don’t buy alot, and don’t buy anything with gadgets. Keep it simple and let their imaginaton grow. All those black and white special books for newborns was a waste of time.
5) Special bags for nappies? Special toys for brain development? Special clothes? Don’t overcomplicate something that we have been doing for generations. These are all things that companies pitch you to buy their product. Just use a normal bag you know?!
6) Don’t automatically give your child a dummy for no reason because you start a habit that they may be perfectly capable of working out on their own.
7) We co-slept for the first three weeks and then Emilio moved into a bassinet beside me. He began sleeping in a full-size bed at 9 months, and sleeping in his own room in a bed at 1 year and 2 months. He never used a cot and the only reason he now has a toddler bed is because his room is about the same size as most walk-in wardrobes. What I’m saying is work out what works for you, and don’t do things just because everyone else is.
8) Feeding. We say in NZ “food before one is just for fun.” Don’t stress if they don’t like potatoes or if their tastes change – that’s normal. Just lead by example and eat your veges and soon they will follow suit – especially if you don’t offer other choices and limit snacking between meals.
9) Donate all toys and books that your child is not interested in. There are plenty of organizations that will put them to better use. Plus kids are not interested clutter
10) Do not feel bad about requesting what you need as presents
12) Rotating toys and books is a great idea to keep toys interesting.
13) Buy what is age-appropriate for your child unless they show an interest. So don’t buy toys for big kids if your child is a tot unless you want it to collect dust.
14) Designate certain areas for toys or reading. This helps keep areas tidy and children love order (deep down – you will be surprised).
15) Try making your own toys! Emilio had no interest at all in toys with lots of lights and buttons, but he did enjoy a bowl of pegs and my keys. When he got older I made him a busy board with locks and latches, and I attached two wheels on something so that he could spin them to his hearts content (he was obsessed!). I also liked looking up Montessori Busy Basket ideas. Other ideas: a bowl of rice or pasta, water and ice cubes (supervise), water bottle or container filled with things they can push inside.
16) We did reusable cloths as baby wipes and just washed them when they were dirty. We had no changing table, just a mat on the floor.
17) Lay your baby under a tree – they will be amazed by the leaves and branches.
18) Stick to a routine especially at night time but don’t freak out if it breaks from time to time.
19) Enjoy time away from your child regularly for sanity of mind
20) Do not overwhelm your child with toys. We do one special present for Christmas and birthdays, and a special Family Fun Day.
21) Same goes with clothes. Just what they need. Especially when they are babies – who really cares about the label or what the tshirt says when its covered with food or saliva or spit? Or worse?!
22) Emilio loved chewing on watermelon when he was teething and wasn’t much interested in any other remedy. Think outside the box if nothing else is working!
23) We never really used a highchair! He ate on a mat on the floor and when he was older he sat on his own little table, and now he sits at the big table with us. We also only used the sling until Emilio was 9 months, when we got our first pushchair.
24) Make your baby food! Put aside a day to do lots of cooking then freeze. When they get older, just make sure there are always leftovers so you are always prepared in an emergency!
My Must Buys for Baby:
- play mat
- Moby wrap
- Bibs that cover as much as possible
- reusable cloths
- Toys: blocks, a wooden walker, a rattle
- Books: Dear Zoo, Hungry Caterpillar
For the Toddler:
- Giraffes Can’t Dance
- Train Set
- Shape sorters
- Thomas the Tank soundtrack (a choir of children singing lovely songs)
- A special mug or plate – helps them
- Anything that makes music – Emilio LOVES the harmonica
- Paper and pencils!
Read: In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore
Different play areas I made for Emilio with everything easy for him to reach, and roated toys in his tray.