“Life can be rich without riches. And it can be full without a cupboard overflowing with toys or a drawer stuffed with computer games.”
Next week marks 10 years since I became a mother. Whilst I was overjoyed at having a healthy baby boy, (followed closely by a beautiful little girl just 16 months later), I recall feeling a crushing sense of responsibility and vulnerability during the early months of their lives. As Elizabeth Stone astutely said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart walk around outside of your body.” My life, in an instant, had shifted from looking after only myself to being responsible for the physical, spiritual and emotional health of two young babies.
The prospect of this seemed positively overwhelming. How on earth could I guide them through the vagaries of life? I then realized simplicity was key. My childhood had been simple. Why shouldn’t theirs be too? As they grew and developed, I learned that there was no need to provide them with every whiz-bang bit of technology or fill their days to bursting with structured activities or toys.
Instead, I decided to steep their formative years in experiences that were simple, honest, loving, mysterious and practical – all coated with a layer of fun. And, of course, who better to help me with this than Mother Nature? She’s a brilliant, patient teacher and children are such willing students. She has an inexhaustible “props” box from which to draw. I began turfing my children outside to find their own fun and learn at their own pace and they rewarded me by doing this in spades.
If children have just one adult in their life who is willing to invest in them a sense of wonder whenever they step outside their front door, they will live an enriched life and enjoy a lifelong connection to nature.
With the rush of life, are we forgetting to teach our children how to do nothing and enjoy it? Are we breeding an expectation that their lives have to be a series of WOW moments? I tend to think so. Life can be rich without riches. And it can be full without a cupboard overflowing with toys or a drawer stuffed with computer games.
Edited version of article written for Family Australia magazine.