One of the Holistic Moms mentioned "Simplicity Parenting" as a possible meeting topic for the fall. That suggestion could not have come at a better time. I'd read Voluntary Simplicity and Your Money or Your Life some time ago, and felt like we had done a decent job decreasing the amount of "stuff" we had (although with kids that is a never ending task) but we never got past that part. So I picked up the book (Simplicity Parenting) at the library and did some searching online for resources.
As I read, much of it was familiar territory. Many suggestions in the book are ones I have given many times over - decrease the toys, limit or remove all of the toys that "work too hard", create routines and spots for kids to release pent up energy... I knew all this. What resonated with me though, were the discussions about schedules and about limiting "adult" conversation.
I listen to NPR in the car most days, and while it often doesn't strike me as being inappropriate for small ears, I have had moments where I was surprised by what Peanut picked up on and some where I clearly needed to turn it off. Beyond that though, the discussions we have in front of the kids about our worries and concerns are liable to make more of an impact than I had really considered, and if you know me at all, you know I have considered that.
The schedule discussion though was what I needed most right now. I have twice visited the most incredible nature based Reggio Emilia inspired school (pre-k through second grade or so) that I have ever seen in my life. My children truly deserve to receive that kind of education. So as I am thinking about this, wanting this for my kids, I found myself considering the ways we can make it happen. It's a 40 minute drive without traffic. The day starts at 8:30am and ends at 3:30. Peanut would need to be enrolled for 4 days a week, full time, and Pumpkin could go half days, but that wouldn't make sense to drive twice a day to pick the kids up at different times so he would go full time four days as well. So two kids, full tuition. I need to go back to work full time then. And I need to be close enough to the school that I am not driving hours to and from school and to and from work. And of course all of this means that we have to rush out the door by 7:30am, when we are currently slowly and leisurely eating breakfast. I'd have tired, dirty kids in the car for another hour in the afternoon, get home in enough time to give them a bath, make and feed them dinner and get them to bed. Yeah, we'd get an hour or so to play, but compare that to what we have now.
Yes. I was actually thinking that this was all doable for about 24 hours, until I thought it through some more and realized all that I would be giving up. I realized how complicated I'd be making everything. I'd be creating chaos every morning, all to go play outside. Yes, the teacher facilitation of activities is second to none at the school, but hell, we can learn to do at least some of that here. And I really don't want to go back to work full time. I love my work, but I love the flexibility it provides me, and giving all of that up seems crazy.
So I am back on the path of simplicity. We are on spring break this week, and all I can think about is how great it will be when preschool is over and all of our weeks can be like this. We took a walk this morning, had our playgroup outside, and made nest baskets for the birds. We'll probably do a little more art, head over to the library, and maybe back out to the garden this afternoon. I'm loving it, and so are the kids.