Anyway, what does simple living mean to me NOW - how do we keep things easy and simple? Things just seem more hustle & bustle, don't they? There is soo much to do - how do scale it back and pretend we're living 40 years ago?
I don't think there really is much merit in pretending it IS 40 years ago...we have to be present in our current age to have any effectiveness in it, but that doesn't mean we have to give way to every whim of materialism and stretch our selves thin with busyness that doesn't even give us the result we want, in the end.
Get priorities straight - Kids need...nothing. Honestly, and truly, they need nothing aside from the basics. Which is something, granted. What kids need is love, food, caring, education - the normal stuff of life. What they don't need is ballet, gymnastics, violin, piano, drums, tap dancing, xbox, Wii, Playstation, Leap Frog...the list goes on. Pare it all back, and see what you are left with. It might be really bored kids, since you took away all the activities:-)
So, for us - personal decisions alone, based on what we can handle, afford, and still keep ourselves simply...sane.
These are not hard and fast rules - but the generalization has rarely, if ever, found it's exception in our home.
We prioritize 4 activities outside the home - Church, Sports, Education & Music. - within those activities, I have boundaries set - nobody does an activity that everyone can't do. While I realize boys "can do" ballet...yah, no. So yes, that means it's a bummer for Kenna - she'll never be a ballerina. And actually, I've known countless girls who have gone to ballet, tirelessly, and NONE of them are ballerinas either. So that tells me...she'll live, and quiet happily, without the experience. We keep EVERY EVENING of the week OPEN except for Wednesday night. Bedtime is strictly at 7pm, always has been, and will continue to be so for a looooong time. So if something encroaches upon that "unwritten rule" chances are, it's a no-go as a consistent activity.
SPORTS: I never took tap dancing, and wouldn't you know it - it's never come up. I did, however, learn how to play baseball, and that has proved more than useful over the years. So my rule is this: If everyone can't do it, no one does. This frees us up quite a bit in both time & money- in our area, we do 1 sport per season (soccer = fall, basketball = winter, baseball = spring, swimming = summer). Please don't get me wrong, I have nothing against dancing or activities of that nature. But for us, we 1) don't have the time without getting stressed, and 2) can't afford it.
CHURCH - we do the Wednesday night Awana program, and this is the only "late night" the kids have in the week.
EDUCATION - We participate in a homeschool co-op that meats every other Friday/14 times per year. They teach science, art and do P.E. As the kids age and we have the opportunities available to us, I am sure we will be pursuing more things of this nature - day time classes, field trips, etc.
MUSIC - The kids take music lessons once per week.
We have a few pieces of technology - a Wii, a Kindle Fire, a laptop, and a TV (& Dvd player). No one has their own anything. They must play together and watch together. Sometimes everyone is bummed that the "babies" want to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse again, or that the boys want to play Wii sports instead of watch a show. (Sometimes Moms are bummed that football is on *again* and sometimes Dads are bummed that the "feel good Canadian dramas" are on *again* too). But it's good for a kid (or a Mom, or a Dad:-) to not get what they want. It really is. It's also good for them to "give up" to others, take turns, share, and be gracious. I like how easy it is to foster proper attitudes with regards to those things, when there are no options otherwise. There is no choice not to share. So sharing it is. We make it work out, and lovingly so. My kids are enthralled with things like Nintendo DS, and play them while at friends houses. I don't mind that one bit...while I should think we'll never own any, as I don't see those types of toys fitting in well with our family dynamic, though it bears repeating, I have nothing against these items. I feel like with the children I've been given (which are really the only ones I am concerned about, largely), and the way they are wired, those types of toys don't appear to easily encourage the attitude of togetherness.
Maybe that's where it's at...togetherness. Things are simple when we are together. God put us all together, and we like each other. Maybe not naturally. What is that expression? You can't choose your family...:-D
But you know what does wonders for your soul and gives you all kinds of confidence? Knowing that there are people in your corner, who like you. Who would give up something they love for you, even if they really don't want to - they'll do it because you belong to them. I think we are very blessed to have been given hearts of love toward each other, by God. So in our family, liking each other does not come too hard at all, but that might not always be the case in families, though I think it not an excuse. Love is always a choice, and sometimes it's a hard one, even in loving families. But God is able to love. God is love. So guess what? In Him, we are able to make that choice too.
I'm happy to see that my kids enjoy each other, easily. I think they've come to realize they will putting others wishes ahead of their own for years to come, and they're getting used to that idea, with joy.
I'm glad they play out side a lot. I'm glad they have inside jokes, stories, and vivid imaginations. I hope that they remain a bit different in this society, and can pursue their dreams knowing a whole herd of people have their backs. That they can be stress free, in a world that frets over everything. That they can live simply, while still being relevant. My thoughts for the evening. Blessings.