5 Benefits Families Will Achieve by Doing Less
Minimalism for families also means focusing on what matters. Imagine you are playing a board game with your kids. Everyone is engaged and having fun. Then, you remember you need to put the laundry in the dryer and gather a new load, and your mind fixates on the piles of laundry building up. You excuse yourself and tell your kids you will be *right* back. Minutes later, laundry attended to, you try to rejoin the game but everyone has scattered and are now off doing something else…game over. What happened?
Our behavior as well-meaning parents impacts our children’s behavior. If I get up in the middle of movie night, my kids follow. When I consciously sit through the urge to get up and do something else during family time, my kids see the activity through too, at least for longer than they would have. When considering minimalism for families, identify what activities are most important to you and how you can streamline to doing less at one time.
This isn’t to say kids will sit and trim a bonsai tree with you for an hour. Kids are not wired to sit still for long stretches but we can help maximize what they are capable of doing and model paying attention.
It’s no wonder our kids’ attention spans have gone down the tubes. They are watching multi-tasking adults and assuming that’s the way it’s done. We are conditioned to always be “doing” to feel productive, multi-tasking is the norm. But, is it healthy? Most of us would answer that we prefer to feel calm, focused, and connected. How can we align our actions with our intentions?
Consider writing your to-do’s down each week and have “doing” time each day. Set a timer. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, once time is up, stop doing and get back to the life you want to live.
Benefits of doing less:
- Improved connection with loved ones – Relationships improve as you are able to fully listen and engage, and you will appreciate each other more.
- Modeling attentiveness for kids – Believe it or not, they are watching you. If they see you fully engaged with activities, conversations and tasks, they will pick up on it. This is a life skill that takes constant practice but one that will serve them well.
- More enjoyment when completing tasks – How can you make “tasks” more fun? Pick out a dish soap you actually enjoy the smell of and play music while doing the dishes, making dinner, or cleaning the house. We spend so much time doing non-preferred activities. How can you make your tasks more enjoyable so you actually want to be present?
- Reduced overwhelm – Have you ever felt like you had so much on your mind that your brain was about to blow a fuse? Consider writing it down to get it out of your head and tackle one thing at a time during “doing” time.
- Increased buy-in from kids to help during “doing” time – Kids are more likely to be cooperative if they know there is a start and end time to tasks. Try switching to “doing time” as opposed to asking for their help sprinkled throughout the day. You might be asking that the same tasks be completed but it will seem more manageable for kids and reduces grumbling.
One of the easiest ways to get started with mindfulness is to do one thing at a time and pay attention to what you are doing. When you think of something else you need to do, bring your attention back into the moment. It is easier said than done, but worth the effort to experience the benefits of getting back into the flow of life. Minimalism for families is about more than having less stuff. It’s also about paying attention to what really matters, and that can get lost when we are trying to do too much.
What is your family doing to practice minimalism and what benefits have you noticed?