When I was a child, life was very predictable. We had the same meals each week, we did errands the same times – day in, day out, week after week. As I got older, I began to see this as unusual. None of my other friends followed such rigid schedules. I’d look at my father and think, “My goodness, the world won’t end if we do groceries on Tuesday afternoon instead of Friday.” Mike and I have always been VERY spontaneous. We’ll get up on a Saturday morning and decide to pack the kids in the car and go out of town for the weekend (or sometimes just hop in the car and end up at a hotel on the other end of the province!….(don’t laugh, Shannon!)), we look in the fridge at 5 o’clock and scrounge up supper out of whatever we have on hand, often trying new and unusual things. However, after reading Simplicity Parenting a few things hit home.
- If everything is spontaneous, then children never learn the value of anticipating things. My mother would start packing for our summer vacation a couple weeks in advance. I’d count down the days and talk to my friends about the adventures I’d have (and even though, they usually didn’t happen the fun was in imagining them!) In contrast, my children have NEVER experienced waiting for a family trip and wondering what it will be like because our trips only happen when either Mike or I wake up one morning and say, “Let’s go somewhere.” This results in a mad dash to find somewhere to go, a cheap hotel and grouchy children who usually end up forgetting one of their lovies at home because we left in such a hurry. Imagine the excitement they’d have if we told them we were going to Halifax in two weeks! I’m sure they’d spend hours discussing it and what they were going to see and do!
- If everything is spontaneous, then children don’t get the high of something out of the ordinary happening as everything is “out of the ordinary.” I remember the joy I’d feel if one Saturday my Mum would decide to make homemade macaroni and cheese instead of our typical chicken soup. It became our special treat that only happened 5 or 6 times per year. The author explains this phenomenon by saying that if children experience a life filled “high notes” then they always need more and more to feel like something special is happening. It takes the routine, everyday stuff to make the high notes high. My husband I did fall into this trap last spring when we started buying the children a Timbit or two almost every time we’d take a drive into Sydney. Instead of being a treat, the kid’s began to feel entitled to Timbits everytime we went in the car, and we’d certainly hear about it if they were denied. Well, one thing we’ve done is to completely stop buying the children Timbits and while Morgaine cried and screamed for about 3 weeks about how unfair we were she no longer asks for Timbits. Just a couple days ago, Mike brought home a 10 pack of Timbits for the children and their eyes just lit up, especially Morgaine’s, as the Timbits had rightfully become a treat again and not just something they have.
In addition to acknowledging the above things, we’ve also added a fair amount of routine to our days with set meals (type of meal, not necessarially exact dishes) and a daily chore.
- crock pot meal (as we have drama and it is lovely to come home to a cooked supper)
- scrub down the kitchen well as it tends to explode over the weekend.
- Soup from left over crockpot meal
- Bake bread for the week
- A vegetarian dish (Indian style chickpeas or lentils, baked beans, etc)
- Dusting and sweeping
- A all over house cleaning for the weekend.
- Homemade version of fast food (usually pizza, occasionally hamburgers)
- Errands in Sydney
- Meat and potatoes (Jigg’s Dinner or some kind of steak or ribs)
We’ve also started a couple nice rituals that I will talk about very shortly……