Life & Community
Back to Basics: A life less complicated
Batool Haydar wonders how far the 'less is more'
maxim can be extended
lmost from the day my daughter was born, I have received friendly emails from various â€˜child-expert' brands educating me about the various stages of growth she would go through. In every one of these informative mails would be a recommendation on what my child would â€˜need' in order to maximise her potential during these phases and of course, the brands conveniently stocked exactly those items, usually at a discounted price. While most of us recognise these commercial gimmicks, we do tend to think that our children need the support of educational aids in order to (eventually) grow into intelligent, successful adults. Creatively-designed, expert-approved toys are a big part of establishing the strong foundation we want to build for our children. If you think you don't subscribe to this thought, try taking a look in your child (ren)'s toy box. I did. I did and discovered I had fallen into the same trap that I was working so hard to avoid. In my attempt to provide a more tactile environment for my child, I had bought things that I thought she needed in order to learn. I had begun to think that each new, thoroughly analysed and researched purchase would provide more excitement and more experiences for her. This, however,
simply isn't true. All children really need is freedom. They will discover and learn from almost anything they can lay their hands on, and giving them less to distract them can actually trigger their imagination and creativity. As I started to work on de-cluttering the material aspect of my parenting, I began to wonder whether this principle would work on the other aspects of my role as a mother in Islam. My initial premise was simple: What areas am I doing too much in as a parent and how would it impact me and my child if I was to use a minimalist approach? My journey led me to the conclusions below. (I cannot stress enough that these worked personally for me and that while the question is a general one, the application of its answers needs to be tailored to each individual's circumstances.)
1. Less Distraction, More Focus Sometimes clichĂŠs work because they are so true. When you reduce the quantity of your material possessions the quality of your experience increases. It's simply the way things are. I used to dread the end of each day because cleaning up felt like a repetitive, fruitless effort. Every evening, I would pick up and arrange all her things and every morning there would be the same disaster zone of discarded toys. Because she had so many options, my daughter moved from one object to another, leaving a brightly-coloured trail of plastic, wood and rubber for me to follow. My reduction strategy started by watching which toys she