Being a Minimalist Mummy in Chile

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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:

  1. Co-sleeper
  2. play mat
  3. Moby wrap
  4. Bibs that cover as much as possible
  5. reusable cloths
  6. Toys: blocks, a wooden walker, a rattle
  7. Books: Dear Zoo, Hungry Caterpillar

For the Toddler:

  1. Giraffes Can’t Dance
  2. Train Set
  3. Shape sorters
  4. Ball
  5. Thomas the Tank soundtrack (a choir of children singing lovely songs)
  6. A special mug or plate – helps them
  7. Anything that makes music – Emilio LOVES the harmonica
  8. Paper and pencils!
  9. Pushchair

More Information

Read: In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore

Stores: Donde Estas Pudu (handmade and organic supplies), Kindertop (Hape and wooden toys in Chile)

 

Different play areas I made for Emilio with everything easy for him to reach, and roated toys in his tray.

 

 

Mummy Diaries: The Rules (Part Two)

  1. You will never pee in silence again.
  2. During said action always be prepared for the door to open.
  3. Just when you think they are asleep … “mama?”
  4. Sex becomes quickies
  5. During said endeavour expect your mind to be otherwise occupied: will we wake him up?  Is there meat out for tomorrow? Did I organize a babysitter?
  6. The floor is now a suitable resting place for food. Just walked through banana? Oh fudge it – have a cup of tea. They will eat it anyway.
  7. Leaving a crying toddler with a babysitter? They will forget you in 5 minutes. Sorry!
  8. TV  the ENEMY … until you have a child! Or a second one.
  9. Boys love anything with wheels. It’s in their genes.
  10. That beautiful nursery you admire? It NEVER looks like that. Trust me.
  11. Everything you don’t want your kid to eat, they will eat.
  12. Brushing teeth and brushing hair – is it really worth the battle? I feel like I’m at the Wall every bedtime (GoT reference!)
  13. Those wonderful perky boobs you have always taken for granted will disappear after breastfeeding. Make the most of their symmetrical shape while you can!
  14. You will never feel shame showing your body in public again once you’ve popped out a baby and then spent a few months popping out your boob.
  15. When baby is asleep its party time!  That means a bar of chocolate and an hour of reading mummy blogs/How I Met Your Mother
  16. You know they say you always have one ear listening for baby at night? Yeah nah, once they start sleeping through you will stop that pretty quickly … SLEEP how I love you!
  17. Pooz is always interesting.  Hello Quinoa!
  18. “Kaka” “poopoo” “peepee” “weewee” during potty-training you will be unable to utter a single other word.
  19. When your child begins solids you will develop an overwhelming interest in nutrition.  Until they become a toddler, at which point you are just happy they eat at all. Even biscuits – oh the horror!
  20. Your bed will become the ultimate playground for your wee churab. That expensive toy you just bought? It will be collecting dust after 5 minutes, or broken.
  21. Playdates will bring out the mamabear. Who will hit your angel child? Wait – he hit your baby? Emilio, Emilio – EMILIO COME BACK HERE NOW!
  22. You will suddenly lose control of your child when all other mums are watching. It will play out a little bit like “Say sorry to the baby Emilio. EMILIO STOP PLAYING WITH THE CAT POOP NOW! Emiliooooooo!!!!!!”
  23. Do not put THAT in your mouth!
  24. Never leave your child unattended with pens, crayons or paints unless you are in want of a new mural.
  25. Alone time with the husband? You’re never really alone. You will spend the whole time talking about the baby.
  26. Babysitters will never match up to your parenting skills. Nor the knowledge of other mums.  Or even the husband, for that matter.
  27. People who offer you advice and do NOT have children will receive an eyebrow raise and a look of disdain. Sorry, did you push a baby out your vag? No? Then shuddup.
  28. In Chile, you will live at the doctors. Or (in our case) hospital ER.
  29. Your child is never quite enough. They are always too: regalon, mamon, big, small, light, heavy, not eating enough greens, not enough junk, breastfeeding, NOT breastfeeding, not sleeping enough, sleeping too much, not talking, talking too much … the list is endless.
  30. They will never look at the camera when you want them too.
  31. They will never have enough woollen layers. Even in summer.
  32. Christmas. You will either be so excited and put the tree up early only to find they aren’t the slightest bit interested, or they like it too much and pull it down *sigh*
  33. Summer in Santiago means only two things: overcrowded swimming pools and SUNBLOCK.  Ahahaha good luck with that!

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