Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mindful parenting

As a parent, I feel one of my most important jobs is mindfully choosing what our children are exposed to. This comes in the form of food/diet... media/screen time... social experiences and peer interactions... books.. play and toys... language... The list goes on endlessly. But the process of thinking through each of these avenues of exposure has allowed us to create a home where nothing is off limits. It doesn't feel restricting to the adults - rather it feels freeing as our girls can "free range" their entire natural environment. And it is that very environment that I believe should be the foundation for a A and E's perspective on what is right/wrong, good/bad, happy/sad, boring/entertaining. 

No screen time has virtually eliminated unnecessary desires - without the bombardment of commercials and disney characters and animated action figures, the girls do not see those objects as necessary to play. By being a "maker" and taking so much pride in the things I personally create, the girls already take tremendous pleasure in giving and receiving homemade gifts (I couldn't have been more proud watching the excitement on Abby and Elise's faces when they gave handmade bracelets to two of their cousins for Christmas). I have to believe that listening to John play the piano is an influence in Abby saying just yesterday "Mom, I really am ready for piano lessons to start again". 

As mentioned previously, we're enthralled with the Little House on the Prairie books right now. I cannot stress enough how wonderful I believe these books are for children. It may seem old-fashioned, but it exemplifies a family unit who works and plays together, respects one another, and finds great happiness in the little things life brings. The girls in the book each receive a piece of candy for Christmas one year and our girls' faces lit up while reading that chapter - A and E recognized how amazing that gift was and never once commented on it being nothing more than a simple piece of candy. The picture below speaks to what we are doing - Christmas morning, our girls received books, a new shirt each, and a candy cane (thank you to The Merc, as usual, for supplying candy canes made with real cane sugar and no artificial dyes!). It was sheer happiness over a simple piece of candy. I don't think our girls are deprived; I think their world is rich with everything a child should have and that which they are deprived of are the things we have mindfully left out.

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