How to Embrace Minimalist Parenting

This podcast will focus on minimalist parenting- getting more out of life by doing less. Are you finding life seems to be about acquiring more, doing more, overscheduling and overparenting? It’s time to stop the madness! This podcast episode helps us to declutter, pair-down and pull back from the hamster-wheel of life so we no longer feel overwhelmed and our kids learn to see the bigger picture! We are all part of a family system and we can all get more out of family life…by doing less! This week’s guest is Dr. Christine Koh.

Guest Expert: Dr. Christine Koh

This podcast will focus on minimalist parenting- getting more out of life by doing less. Are you finding life seems to be about acquiring more, doing more, overscheduling and overparenting? It’s time to stop the madness! This podcast episode helps us to declutter, pair-down and pull back from the hamster-wheel of life so we no longer feel overwhelmed and our kids learn to see the bigger picture! We are all part of a family system and we can all get more out of family life…by doing less! This week’s guest is Dr. Christine Koh.

Intro:

If some is good, more must be better, right? Of course, that is often not the truth. But we have to admit that our culture—and therefore our parenting climate feeds on a bigger, better, faster more mentality. More tech, more toys, more gear, more gadgets, more fear about competition and safety, and more choices to make about education, nutrition and even entertainment. The result is often less time, more anxiety—not to mention overwhelmed, confused parents and overscheduled, overparented kids. How can we enjoy modern family life more by doing less? For this, we will be turning to Dr. Christine Koh.

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned multimedia creative who creates content to help people reduce the emotional, physical, and logistical stressors from their lives. This way, they have more room to pursue what they care about and enjoy. She is the co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, founder/editor of BostonMamas.com, designer of Brave New World Designs, and creative director at Women Online. Christine lives in the Boston area with her husband Jonathan, daughters Laurel and Violet, and a standard poodle named James. 

Important Messages:

  • Pulling back, doing less, opting out- people are interested parenting this way! What could that journey look like?
  • How do we get rid of items? Pair down? Kids will be different. Strategy: Give them a box. Constrained space. What do you REALLY want to keep? What’s worth going in this box?
  • Declutter: Break it down. Just handle “short sleeve shirts.” Or “Shorts.” That way it’s not overwhelming.
  • Recycle, pass along- books, clothes.
  • Leave on a high not on an exhausted low.
  • Know where the stuff is going when you take it out of the room.
  • Talking about privilege- race conversation- use your privilege in a positive way.
  • Relative privilege. You have things to pair down. Talk about this. Everything doesn’t revolve around you. Developmentally appropriate to be self-centered. BUT- They are part of a system. Their decisions impact people!
  • Tiny touch points: For example, when you are giving things away and you want to talk about privilege. “I feel so great that we get to pass all this stuff along because there are some families that don’t have as many options.” The more these little conversations stack up, the more they are thinking outside of themselves and that’s a good thing.
  • Overscheduling- how do you talk to kids about not getting everything theywant when it comes to activities? For example, each kid only gets one activity per season. Up to the family. Involves driving. (1) Acknowledgement of what’s involved (2) “I really hear that you want to do these 3 activities this Fall AND each of these activities involve time, money, figuring out, how we are going to juggle with other family members?
    (3) Rank order the activities. “Let’s see what we can make work so you can at least do the thing you most care about.” (4) Touch point conversation. (5) Kid feels heard. “AND” statement. Points to privilege with time and money- encourages kid to think about what’s truly important while considering the needs of others.
  • Think hard when ramping up- huge shock to go back to things.
  • Sometimes it’s not the kids- it’s the parents. Who really wants to do the activities?
  • Why are we doing this? Does it align with our values?
  • Moments of pause. To ensure the family is in tune with what is authentic for them.
  • You are equipping children to become good humans- not just great students. Mental reframing.
  • “Every day- you need to do one thing for your brain, one thing for your body and one thing for the house.”
  • Know- it may be done differently than the way you have done it- but it gets done. Remember- don’t make the bar too high or too narrow!
  • How do you refrain getting sucked into the Pinterest rabbit hole? (1) Have a budget- cash in there and there’s nothing else. (2) Highlight and rank order most fun and what would feel best and let the rest go (3) Choices- a party out at a venue with no favors or gifts or smaller at home with favors and gifts. Awareness about cost.
  • Tech rules: Some are more strict than others. Make sure you get outside! Brain, body, house. “You need some time outside!” Give them the space and don’t try to solve all of their problems.
  • Feel agency. Don’t need to get swept away by what others are saying. Customize what works for you. Put more intention around what you are choosing to do.

Notable Quotables:

  • “Each of my kids have a box and that’s where nostalgic things go. When the box is full, they have to look through the box and get rid of some stuff if they want to add more. I am all about limiting the space- constraining it- so that it helps kids really think through, ‘what is it worth? What’s worth going in this box?”
  • “There’s something to constraining space. I know we live in this era of ‘let’s upgrade and upsize’ but I am very into ‘let’s constrain it.’”
  • “I think kids have an easier time letting go when they know that their stuff is going to ‘somebody,’ even if it’s a donation box.”
  • “Kids need gentle reminders that they are part of a system. They are part of a family system and their decisions and their actions impact others most immediately. They are part of a community in their town or in their school. The more these little conversations stack up, the more they are thinking outside of themselves—and that’s a good thing.”
  • “We need so many moments of pause in our lives to make sure we are authentic about the experience that we are creating for ourselves and our kids.”
  • “By having your children do chores, these are life skills, you are equipping them to become a functional human being in this world. This is as important as having them do their homework, their extracurricular or the thing they really care about outside of school.”
  • “Every day, you need to do one thing for your brain, one thing for your body and one thing for the house.”
  • “Give your kids some space and don’t try to solve all of their problems.”
  • “You can say no to things. You can set limits. It’s crucial for our kids to know they can’t have everything they want– and they will survive!”

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