One of the chief causes of stress for many is what’s involved these days in raising kids. The onslaught of media and advertisements from all sides is creating in parents a perception that they need to give their children more stuff than the children actually need or want. In suburban or affluent communities, the amount of activities and money invested in children is staggering. And a lot of it is unnecessary. Children need love, rots, and wings. They don’t need to be use booked up twenty-four/seven with “play dates,” various lesson, and endless string of lavish birthday parties hosted by parents trying to outdo one another in themes, gifts, or entertainment. The more stuff you involve your children in, the more running around you have to do, and the more stressed and tired the child gets (not to mention you!). In the end, you have less time to spend with your children. Here are a few tips I’ve minded from parents who have downshifted their children:
Limit the lesions
Your child does not need to be occupied with a different sport or art from every night of the week. If you want to expose the child to variety, try one different thing each shool term until something sticks. On team sport or activity during the week is just fine. This will greatly reduce the amount of running around your family does, and the change will pay off in more quality family time.
Stop the birthday insanity
Some of these birthday survival tips are more doable or practical for some parent than others. But take a look:
When your child reaches an age of understanding, consider the gift of charity for the next birthday party he or she attends. Donate an affordable amount (say, ten dollars) to a children’s charity in the name of the birthday child. That’s your gift. No more last-minute gift-shopping madness for a kid you don’t know, who already has everything! When it’s your turn to host a birthday party, request no gifts, but donations to your child’s charity of choice are welcome. This will reduce the toy clutter, the greed factor, and the inequality factor (when some children give lavish presents and other children give cheaper presents, social dynamics can become nightmarish all around). Reserve gift giving for the family party you have for your child, and impress upon your child that the kids’ party is designed for enjoying friends, not collecting material possessions.
Limit the party’s size. Most parents agree, “Eight is enough.” Eight children or fewer is a manageable size. By limiting the amount of guests, you can limit your cost and the number of gifts your child receives. Entertain 1970s style with hot clogs or pizza, a cake, and some creative party games. Don’t feel pressured to take the kids on a lavish outing.
Reduce and reuse party gifts. Allow your child to choose a few gifts to keep and few gifts to donate. You can use gifts from the “donate” pile for other parties, or give them all away to children’s charities.
If you’re delaying having children until your career is more settled or you feel more financially secure, have you considered the option of not having a child at all? In the past, a child-free lifestyle was a political decision for many couples. During the 1950s and 1960s, many couples chose this because they feared a nuclear holocaust. By the 1970s, the issue of overpopulation became the motivating factor for the choice. Yet by the 1980s, the option became unpopular. This is a pity, considering what a liberating lifestyle option it can be. Obviously, you’ll need to review your original reasons for waiting children before you make this choice. You might want talk to child-free people to see if they regret the choice.
Having and raising children are one for the most stressful experiences in life. As an author of many women’s health books, I can tell you that several women have said to me, “if I know how hard raising children would be, I wouldn’t have chosen it.” Parenting is a selfless, largely self-scarifying job. Choosing a child-free lifestyle may be an appealing option in an economically turbulent and difficult world.
Some of the traditional reason for having children was purely economic. Children, many people thought, guaranteed financial security in old age. Today, with no many college-educated adults living at home because they cannot get jobs, the economic benefits of progeny are no longer as visible.
Another traditional reason for having children was fear of loneliness in one’s old age. Fifteen years fron now, the majority of the population will be over sixty-five; you won’t be lonely.
Child-free living offer the following benefits:
- Freedom. You may have a time and extra money down the road to do all this you’ve dreamed of: going back to school for that second degree, buying a vacation home, traveling, talking early retirement, or whatever you what.
- Control of your life. When you have children, you lose a certain control over you own life, as you become entangled in the precarious nature of parenting a child who lives on planet Earth. Children can have lots of problems: they may have difficulty at school, get sick, have accidents, get in trouble, and so on. Being a parent never stops.
- Self-expansion. You’ll have the time to explore parts of yourself that you never knew existed, because you’ll have time to yourself. You can explorer insights about your life, your gifts, your talents, your desires, and your interests.
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