If ever there was a time to in your life to simplify, this is it! You are embarking on a wonderful, sacred journey that could potentially bury you alive – in stuff, activities, chores and so much else. So much else. As a mom with three grown kids, and plenty of hindsight, here are my simplifying tips to take or leave as you see fit:
#1 The stuff:
* Every gadget known to man and mommy is on the market, and you simply do not need them all. Not even close. In addition, every toy, including the huge plastic ones that take over your living room are for sale. Your child does not need all of these. Fewer toys means using more imagination. Instead of accumulating too much stuff, just let them play with what’s there. Better yet, play with them once in a while. Not always, but sometimes.
#2 The activities:
*Consider all activities carefully; the amount of enjoyment has to outweigh the resources it consumes. I remember reading an article many years ago – I think it was called ‘chasing mommy’ or something like that. The author wrote about how her mom was constantly running around, from morning ‘til night. The busyness was well intended. Many of the activities were meant to benefit the child, such as leading her Girl Scout troop and volunteering at her school. But what the author really wanted was just to have her mother’s undivided attention at home for a little while each day. It’s often in the quiet moments, the unstructured time, the extra minutes lingered while saying goodnight that a child will speak what’s on her mind or in her heart. This time is precious, but there has to be room for it.
*Mommy and Me classes are clever ideas, and if you choose to attend one of these to be in the company of the other moms, then enjoy! But at least be conscious of the fact that you do not need to enroll in a class and pay money to roll your child across your belly, or clap in unison.
*Choose birthday and holiday celebrations, and other events carefully because often what you do once will be expected again and again. Do you want to bake 200 cookies every year or throw the party that leaves everyone overstimulated and cranky? Or allow weekly sleepovers for your tween or even allow the sleepover habit at all? More than likely, these choices are going to be yours to make, so wear your leadership hat mindfully and consistently. Do what brings all of you joy, and nothing more.
#3 The resources:
*When you’re deciding how many kids to have, consider your resources carefully. Children require time, energy, patience and money. With each new child, those resources get divided again. If you and your partner don’t have plenty of all of these, at least make sure you have a huge amount of one of them.
*Speaking of money, you will often hear people say kids are so expensive and there is some truth to that. But it’s not always as expensive as some people make it out to be. Your baby doesn’t need the nursery set up from Ethan Allen. Nor does she need designer clothes, trips to Disney, or the most expensive college education available. Planning and saving is smart, but the most important resources your child will get from you are free.
#4 The work:
*Don’t waste your time or energy in debate over who has it harder, or better, working moms or stay-at -home moms. There’s just no right or wrong answer. Besides, some moms work part time. What category do we place them in? Everyone is doing what they feel is necessary or best in their given situation, which can change over the course of motherhood. I think the bottom line is, generally, a happy mom has the best chance at having happy kids. So make it your job to be happy. Keeping it simple where you can is bound to make that easier.