A Guide to Enjoying Life More by Doing Less
A Guide to Enjoying Life More by Doing Less
Whether you consider yourself a tiger mom, helicopter parent or attachment advocate, one thing is certain: this parenting gig isn’t easy. We are bombarded from every angle with an onslaught of information. Whether it’s over-extending in-laws, well-intentioned friends or always-on social media outlets, parents today feel more pressure than ever to be perfect. But in a world of Stepford parenting, sometimes we need to squelch those outer voices and allow ourselves to do less.
In their new book “Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less,” authors Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest give parents everywhere permission to do less and live happier lives as a result. The book isn’t a how-to manual on reducing earthly possessions. It’s about understanding yourself, your family, your passions and priorities, and saying ‘no’ to the things that don’t matter.
“It’s about becoming a curator of things in your life, including the time slots on the calendar and the items in your home,” Christine explained. “It’s about assigning value by deciding how much you want, need and love something. It’s about assigning value to what’s important to you and editing out the rest, reducing the overall load and leaving time for things you love.”
To accomplish this, Christine and Asha challenge readers to find their guiding voices or, as Asha explains, their inner bus drivers. “The inner bus driver is your gut feeling, but more. It’s really listening to what’s there inside of you. There are so many goofy phrases, like ‘small still voice,’ or ‘truest part of yourself’. It’s what let’s you know if what you’re doing is what you care about or whether you are just responding to external pressure. Understanding what your own values are is the key to de-cluttering your schedule and your home. It’s the only way to start from a place of honesty and authenticity.”
Getting down to your authentic self can be difficult when parents feel pressured by external voices. “There is so much info out there to choose from, including a lot of opinions from experts and access to all these parenting methodologies,” Asha said. “At first it seems great that there is so much to pick and choose from. But the reality is, it’s not only overwhelming and too much to process, it very steadily undermines parents’ confidence in finding their own way. Parenting is a strange thing that is universal and also unique. That’s why it’s so important to be plugged into your own sense of values and what’s fun, especially when so much info and so many things are competing for time.”
Through “Minimalist Parenting,” Christine and Asha give their readers permission to do less, and to say ‘no’ to things and commitments that don’t gel with their inner bus drivers. “The reason we need permission is because parenting is the most important job we’re going to do. We love our children more than anything. Every parenting decision we make is because we want to love our children the best we can,” Asha explained. “The permission we are giving is for parents to find their own ways. We model this by telling our own stories throughout the book, and sharing other parents’ anecdotes to show how different it can look for different families.”
For Christine and Asha, being a minimalist parent means saying ‘no’ to too many extracurricular activities, getting the kids involved in chores and tasks around the house, making time for self-care, scheduling fun time, reducing clutter and realizing that Pinterest-Perfect is not the standard for which we should be aiming.
Christine shared her own example of getting swept away in perfection and losing sight of the real purpose. “In my first daughter’s first few years, her parties were more about me than her. It hurts me to say that out loud. I didn’t have friend parties growing up and I wanted to give her that, but it didn’t fit with her personality. Once I looked at my issues and focused on what she wanted, everyone was happier. The parties were smaller, simpler and easier for me. And, she was happier.”
Now, Christine lives by a different philosophy: “The phrase I keep using is ‘done is better than perfect’.”
Regardless of your parenting style, “Minimalist Parenting” offers advice and encouragement to find your inner bus driver and tune in to what she’s saying. “It’s an ongoing journey,” Asha said. “It’s about discovering what you find joyful and making room for those things.”