Minimalism – How my kids benefit from spending their weekends off the grid
In a previous post I talked about my family’s intention to spend more time in nature, living off the grid. Since then, we’ve spent a lot of time at our small piece of paradise and I’ve observed a number of developments in my two daughters since they’ve had ‘more of less.’
The ability to make your own fun without power and only your sister to play with
Initially it took the kids awhile and a bit of encouragement to start making their own fun with what was around them. Here are some of the things they occupy themselves with these days:
- Paddling in the river
- Shell collecting
- Making bird hotels (these are the first things that are inspected when we arrive each time)
- Starting worm hospitals (needed due to the high level of casualties from our tree planting activities)
- Looking at the sheep a few fields over
- Learning to knit (for the older one)
- Discovering all the things you can do with branches, leaves and bark
- Endlessly playing ball with the dog (the dog doesn’t mind this at all, firstly because she never gets this much attention at home and secondly, when she gets worn out she just takes the ball under the caravan)
To kids, the mundane can become an exciting adventure as my husband discovered when planting shrubs around the boundary of our property. Our younger daughter followed him around ‘helping’ and just about drove him to distraction. She was having the time of her life. Threading a rope through some fence palings became so popular that we had to split up the tasks so the kids could have equal shares of what their parents consider to be drudgery.
Learning to do your part and gaining new skills
There’s a lot to do when you live in one room without few modern conveniences. The kids have been helping out a lot more at the section for two reasons.
- We want them to do more and learn to take care of themselves and others
- Keeping them occupied with useful tasks stops them from going crazy at each other when they get tired.
My older daughter is the chief dish dryer after every meal. At nine, she finds it difficult and challenging but gets better every time. Because we have a dishwasher at home she hasn’t had anywhere near as much dish-washing experience at her age than we did when we were kids.
My almost five year old is my chief helper for making up the beds each night. She enjoys having an important job to do at a time when she’s generally too tired to do anything but be silly. We enjoy it too!
The girls are getting pretty good at packing their overnight bag, which they share. The older one helps the younger one and they are learning to minimise what they take with them as there isn’t any room for more. They work out what activities, like drawing or small games they want to take with them and make sure their bed friends are packed. We’ve only had one occasion where underwear was forgotten but that was a learning experience in itself for the kid that had to reuse and recycle! It hasn’t happened since.
Accepting life when it’s less perfect
The best lesson my kids can learn from our lifestyle of less is to be more resilient and accepting of when things aren’t as perfect or easy as they are at home.
They are learning to live with earwigs and spiders on their outdoor chairs and soot on their marshmallows. They eat everything we put in front of them because they can see how much work goes into a meal and know that there’s nothing else on offer. They generally have good appetites from being outdoors so much as well. They’re learning to accept that when you’re living and sleeping in a room with three other people you have to be more conscientious and less intolerant about noise, moving around and how much light you need to go to sleep by. You have to accept that your big fluffy robe has to stay at home because there just isn’t enough room for it so you make do with your jacket instead.
These things are easy to accept when the rewards include milk powder milo, smores over a campfire and as much open space to run around in as any kid (or dog) could possibly want.