|That’s me with Minimalist Parenting authors Asha (AKA “Flat Asha”)
and Christine at their Boston book launch last month.
A few weeks ago, I told you about my experience with #MinCamp, the 14-day “camp” for readers of Minimalist Parenting, a parenting guide from Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, bloggers behind, respectively, Boston Mamas and Parent Hacks.
#MinCamp was, in a word, super-helpful. And, I suspected the book would be even better. It had been sitting on my bedside table for a few weeks now, and thankfully, a long airplane trip gave me the physical–and mental–space to dig in to this practical how to for parenting in our over-scheduled, too-busy, too-much 21st century lives.
The book has an approachable, friendly tone; it’s written as if Asha and Christine are your two girlfriends, wanting to pass along some of the wisdom they’ve gathered from parenting four kids between them. It’s an easy read, though having a notebook in hand to jot down thoughts and ideas for further exploration is a good idea.
Here are my top five take-aways from the book:
1. Reflection – Perhaps you’re like me: way too much to do and not enough time to do it all. With this constant problem, making time for big-picture reflection is a challenge. I can, however, almost always find time for a good book, so Minimalist Parenting, with its initial focus on thinking about values and how they influence my parenting style, offered a great way to get in some of that very necessary reflective thinking.
2. Organization – Now, I consider myself a pretty organized person. But some of the tips in the chapter on time management put me to shame. An app to organize family commitments? An app for my to-do list–with voice activation to add in new items? Where have I been? Before you think I’ve been dazzled by technology, the chapter also had good ideas about building time management skills in children and some helpful every tips I’m considering integrating into my repertoire (such as “swap time” on weekends so my husband and I can get personal time while the other parent is on kid duty).
3. Scaling Back – I find it almost impossible to go to a store like Target and purchase just the one item on my list. Looking for new sneakers for my son? Sure, but what about these note cards that are on sale? Or, some new bins to organize the kids’ toys? Or, don’t I need tissue paper? I normally don’t leave with things that don’t have a purpose in my home (though, if I do, they end up sitting in the closet with the tags on until I go back to return them), but, the truth is, I don’t really need them. What we have is just fine. And, that $50 here and there adds up, and, long-term, holds us back from the things we really want, such as that trip overseas to visit family. This book was a super-helpful (there’s that word again) reminder about staying on goal and letting go of the distractions of modern-day life.
4. Perfection – One of my favorite quotes from the book is “course correction beats perfection” (p. 78).* The idea here is that you can adapt if a decision isn’t working, or if it’s clear a particular way of interacting with your children or spouse isn’t as successful as you would like. It also offers another way of looking at the way we make decisions: make the right choice for you, not necessarily the perfect choice. And, then, tweak if what you’re doing isn’t right anymore.
5. Saying No – One of my pet peeves is when people make excuses. Don’t go on and on about what’s getting in the way of attending that party/going on that school trip/volunteering. And Minimalist Parenting agrees, encouraging parents to say no without excuses (or guilt). “Reserve your energy for the things that make you feel happy and excited,” the authors note (p. 28). Say no to whatever does not support your values and do so with clarity of purpose and freedom.
And, a bonus…
6. Resources – The book includes extensive resources–books and websites on everything from decluttering to money to celebrations–to expand your Minimalist Parenting skills. It’s a great list, and I’m adding many of them to my (neverending) to-read list.
There’s more, of course, that I have taken away from this book (you should see my notes!). The best part, perhaps, is that I’m thinking differently about parenting and the resources available to my family. And, I’m inspired.
*My other favorite quote was “make room for remarkable” (p. 182).