A recent article at Mothering.com by Laura Grace Weldon talks us through a very compelling five reasons why forgoing expensive life and child-raising bells and whistles is good for our families, namely their littlest members. Her article Five Ways Frugal Living Benefits Kids asserts among other things that living “with less” simply makes us and our children happier.
“How? We recognize that a sense of well-being depends on intangible qualities like warm interpersonal relationships, reasonable autonomy in one’s choices, exactly those things that money can’t buy… Studies show that happiness has much more to do with experiences than with possessions.”
I loved reading this entire article, feeling that the choices my partner and I are making for our new arrival (our first baby is due in July) both incidentally and purposefully support a frugal parenting model. We both independently chose to leave our good-paying full-time corporate jobs to live simpler, more fulfilling lives and the rewards we are reaping by way of more time with each other and for our artistic pursuits, as well as flexibility in where we live and how we travel, will be a blessing to our child, as well. These benefits make the financial challenges worth it to us, challenges that are minimized by our own chosen minimalistic lives.
Additionally, we are both committed to keeping our child’s experience as natural, simple and inspiration-led as possible. So in lieu of big bright whirly-gig toys, beeping buzzing electronics, and the latest baby bling, we’re opting for natural handmade clothes and toys, looking for previously-loved goods of the same nature, and reminding each other step by step that our family has and will have all we need, in fact, more than enough.
Weldon’s article references a few published books and studies on topics like the value of delayed gratification, how creativity at a young age shapes positive character, why constant exposure to commercialism through marketing is harmful to our kids, and more. I appreciate the way she documents and offers direct examples of the benefits of frugal parenting, and also how she warns of the dangers of the opposite.
As a mother, I want nothing more than to shelter my dear ones (and myself) from the trappings of materialistic living. There’s a lot that I am trying to move away from with my own choices, and subsequently help my children steer clear of, too. But more than that, there is a lot that I’m moving towards by living a simpler life that naturally costs less; like… knowing the joy of growing and eating our own tomatoes (thanks mom for giving me this experience)… delighting in making holiday gifts with our own hands… smiling through relaxed walks under big trees and through coastal sand… enjoying the smell of bread baking in our own oven… loving how locally spun yarn in natural colors looks in the sun after we’ve turned it into something functional with our own hands… having lunch as a family at our own table. My list is endless.
What’s on yours? How do you and your family enjoy the simple things and spend less in the process? How do you see the benefits of this in your children?