It’s August, and it seems like almost everyone is either on vacation or toting their kids to amusement parks, water parks, malls, shows, zoos, movies, and any entertainment venue you can imagine.
Peer pressure, anyone?
We like to have fun as much as the next person, but when you consider what a month of constant going out costs, the sum is staggering. Besides, a day in the car is exhausting and usually saps my strength for the next day or two.
And you know what? It’s never enough, because once kids get in the habit of always being taken somewhere, they lose the taste for simple games and quiet, home-centered activities.
We’ve spent this summer refusing to get pulled into the merry-go-round of “doing something special”, and have passed our time pleasantly enough going to the swimming pool, the library, the local play center, and a few visits to see family.
I also believe it’s entirely possible for people who desire a slower, gentler rhythm to their days, to gradually wean their kids off the habit of always being driven to places, and rediscover the simple old-fashioned pleasures of a quiet neighborhood life. Here are a few ideas:
1. Take full advantage of the free or cheap entertainment options in your area. Are there any parks, museums, or, if you live in a more rural area, farms you haven’t visited yet?
2. Cultivate a home that is conductive to learning, relaxation, and creativity. Start a garden, even if all the space you have available are some pots on the balcony. Get your children to help you and gradually delegate age-appropriate responsibilities. Chickens make great, easy-to-keep livestock/pets combo in areas where they are allowed.
Keep cozy, clutter-free corners for reading and arts and crafts. Encourage your children to explore new hobbies such as painting, sewing, knitting, etc.
Above: the scarf Shira (10) has started crocheting in the past few days. It’s a lot longer now than in this picture!
3. Do fun and unusual stuff such as camping out in your own backyard. Hang up a couple of hammocks and let your children sleep in them from time to time. Take nature walks, ride bikes, set up a bird feeder and waterer.
Above all, don’t let notions of inferiority or deprivation creep in. I know many families that really struggle financially but still give their kids expensive entertainment and brand-name clothes and shoes, stating that they don’t want the kids to “miss out”. Well, I firmly believe that having the family finances together, and working towards a financially secure, debt-free future is FAR more important than any fun trip or impulse purchase of today. I KNOW that even if my kids might sometimes grumble about not getting this, that or the other thing their friends have, I am working for their future greater good by saving money and cultivating the habit of being content with simple, basic things.
So I guess I just wanted to encourage you on your journey to a simple lifestyle in the face of the rampant spending that is going on all around. Don’t worry, you’re doing great!