Here are 5 tips to live simply with kids. As a parent I am constantly thinking about my kids in regards to everything like, “What should they be eating, how should I be teaching them, how much Bible teaching should I do, and how much screen time?” It is not an easy task when we are bombarded by all the parenting tips we can possibly handle.
My parents raised me in a Christian home in the 90s. I grew up without much screen time, read a lot of books, went to Christian school, spent a lot of time outdoors, and on my Grandparents farm in summer. We grew up in a small town in West Virginia. We were not wealthy, and were considered poor, if you go by the average salary in the United States. My sister and I did not feel poor at all, we were loved, and content.
I think a lot about how I grew up, and how my parents grew up, when I raise my children. My husband and I grew up very different. He was a military brat, and traveled all over the world with his family. It was vastly different than my childhood. He grew up learning about different cultures, and languages. I grew up in a small town in one location for the majority of my childhood, where everyone knew everyone. While my husband grew up always moving, and never living in one place for more than 3 years. So now that you know where I am coming from, I will give you the tips I have.
Tip #1- Limit Screen Time
Limiting screen time is something recently that we have learned more about. Growing up we did not really have screen time rules, because we just did not have much access to it. Cell phones and tablets that everyone seems to have today were just not a thing when I was a kid. I have realized that the less screen time my kids have the better they behave, and their attitudes are better. Then immediately when my kids screens are taken away they want to be outside.
One day when we did not have access to internet for several days due to an outage, the kids played together so much. They spent time outdoors, and played board games. They got along better, and were less irritated when I asked them to do something. There are lots of studies about how too much screen time causes issue with mental health, and development. I learned a lot about this from the book, “Simplicity Parenting”.https://amzn.to/37kKTxl
It is up to you as parent how much screen time a day you want to limit. Some people do no screens at all. There are also some that do an hour a day, or only a couple days a week. The less screen time the better really, but in our home we feel that with the growing technology age we want them to have access to some of it. We also do not want to be too extreme in any area. We have certain times of day they are allowed to be on. I love the feeling of having a peaceful, and quiet house during the day without the TV blaring in the background.
Tip #2-Be Outside As Much As Possible
We live on 5 acres surrounded by woods. It is so nice that the kids have tons of places to play. So often times we tell them to go outside, especially when they have too much energy. Kids learn so much from playing outdoors. There is always something for them to do, a tree to climb, a bug to catch, jumping on our trampoline, playing on a swing set, running, and playing ball. The more time your children spend outdoors the better.
We follow the 1000hoursoutside instagram account, and she has so many ideas of what you can do in any season. She challenges parents each year to be outside 1000 hours, and to track it. She also has a website, and I got this quote from there, “Angela Hanscom, pediatric occupational therapist, author of Balanced and Barefoot and founder of Timbernook also touches on the time component. She states, “Ideally, kids of all ages should get at least three hours of free play outdoors a day.” A childhood that is filled with nature moments seems to be backed time and again by research. There are astronomical health, social, and developmental benefits that accompany time in nature.”https://www.1000hoursoutside.com/blog/why-1000-hours
I love that she encourages outside time. She often talks about that children spend an average of a few minutes outside a day, and they should be spending hours of time outside each day according to studies. The younger the child the longer they should be outside. Not to mention the benefits of getting Vitamin D from the sun.
Tip #3-Spend Time Reading Especially The Bible
Reading the Bible, and books in general is so good for your children. Often children learn more from books than lots of things. There is so much knowledge to be learned from books. I am so grateful to my mother, and to the christian school I went to that encouraged lots of reading. Now that I am an adult I enjoy reading still. This has allowed me to continue to learn all kinds of things into adulthood.
Doctors recommend that you read as well. “Reading at home boosts school performance later on. It also increases vocabulary, raises self-esteem, builds good communication skills, and strengthens the prediction engine that is the human brain.” I got quote from an article on healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books#strengthens-the-brain
I highly recommend researching the importance of reading, but also reading the Bible is important. It is so good for your children to hear the actual word of God. I realized, reading through the Bible in a year this year, that some of the stories we are told as children, or watched a movie about, are not very accurate. They paint a picture of what happened but often leave out events and details, which leads us to a wrong view. It is so good for your children to hear the actual stories, and how they were told.
Tip #4-Teach Them Daily Household Tasks
My Grandparents were so good at teaching us household tasks. My sister and I stayed with our Grandparents two summers in a row when I was in middle school. We learned so much, and I am super grateful to my parents that they allowed us to do that. It was a period of time I will forever cherish. They taught us as they did their household tasks. They would take us along. If Grandma was washing dishes she would encourage us to help her dry, or rinse. Then when she was baking she would have us help her push the cup into the dough to make biscuits.
My Grandfather would have us follow him as he fed the cows, and made hay. We would ride the wagon while my uncles and their sons loaded the hay bales on the back. We were too weak to help much, but they showed us how anyways. We helped them pick things from the garden, and snap hundreds of green beans. We would run around outside as my Grandma swept the porch, and hung the laundry to dry. These kinds of things showed me a lot about how to do things I did not do at my house. Learning household tasks teach character, discipline, and hard work to a child. These are all of the things I hope to teach to our kids.
Tip #5-Teach Them Gratitude For Things
The more you are thankful for what you have the more content you will become. I know when we stopped giving our kids very many gifts at their birthdays or Christmas they became more grateful. They were so thankful for what they got, because they did not get things throughout the year anymore. Its so counterintuitive to our culture, but the less you give you children the more they become grateful for the things they do get.
My kids are also learning that things cost money, and when they want to buy something we tell them how much things are, and ask if they would like to use their money they have saved to pay for it? One of our sons has been saving his birthday money for several years, because he realizes the value of it. Every time he asks for something we ask him if he wants to use his money to buy it, and he often says no and that he will wait for his birthday to ask for it.
I hope these 5 tips to live simply with kids is helpful
We are not perfect at any of these things, but I do know that as we have incorporated them, they have helped our children so much. Their attitudes improved, and they are so excited to learn things. These are the things we are trying to focus on as we move forward with educating them. Our job as parents is to help them to be good adults, and I hope to help them to glorify God, and to learn that things are not important.