As Evan and I have talked about our goals/visions/dreams for our family over the years, one of the major themes we always keep coming back to is that we want to give our kids an abundance of unstructured time. Most of it comes from fond memories of our own childhoods. Evan grew up in the country with three brothers, and his favorite memories were playing in the woods from sun up to sun down, riding dirt bikes, making forts, climbing trees. For me, I loved spending my days catching frogs at the creek, making playhouses and playing dolls in the basement for hours on end, meeting up with the neighborhood kids and riding bikes, making up dance/gymnastic routines, and playing until our hearts were content. All of these things are pretty much activities that come from having a lot of unstructured play time at home and numerous opportunities to seize our imaginations. We both strongly agree, as a kid there was just something about waking up in the mornings with little to no formal plans (other than a soccer practice here and there) and feeling like we had the world at our fingertips! It is incredibly important to us to give our kids that same flexibility and freedom that meant so much to us, and to encourage their creativity.
While it may sound like an obvious goal or come very naturally to some families, for us, it was a very conscious decision that we had to make to change our current lifestyle in order to give our kids this lifestyle that we consider ideal. We really had to make big changes to our daily life (see here) and many of our other life goals to make this happen. There are definitely trade-offs, but we feel like this goal is just about at the top of the list, so we made it the priority.
I read this quote yesterday that totally spoke to me. It said "We are so caught up in trying to give our children 'advantages' that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood." Boom. This totally struck a cord with with me as one of the hardest parts of leaving my job was feeling guilty that I was walking away from an income that could help enrich my kids lives. However, I think at this point in life the best thing Evan and I can give our kids is quality time, more peaceful schedules, and our undivided attention. It's only been a month, and I already see the changes. Although we were originally totally focused on doing this for the kids, it is surprising me how much we are ALL benefiting from this lifestyle change. We are all sleeping a lot better and are eating so much healthier. Our house is cleaner and feels like a lot less work to manage. We feel like our quality family time has increased 100x over. Our TV is on significantly less. We spend sooo much more time outside. The most amazing benefit, our "difficult" child suddenly isn't so difficult anymore and is a lot happier, more easy going, and calm. We are all just HAPPIER and it feels like time is moving so much more slowly. It feels so good.
Here are some cherished pictures of my tribe <3
I look forward to sharing more on this topic in the future!