936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
It was recently Spring Break here in Northern Colorado, and we were excited to use this time off as an intentional, family centered time for reconnection. We needed it so very badly. I had been working every spare moment to prepare for art shows and complete commissioned pieces, and my husband had spent the last year working on a very time-consuming, stressful project for work.
The toll on the kids could be seen in their angry outbursts, impatience, whining, and overall bad attitudes. They needed their parents back. They needed their family back.
A family getaway was our plan, and it did so much more than heal the fissures created from an overloaded calendar and chaotic season. It made me reconsider two very big aspects of our family life. Space and technology. The over abundance of both could be slowly killing us.
The move toward minimalistic living, and striving to reduce one’s footprint on our planet through tiny home living, have been becoming more and more popular. Hollywood makes it look very enchanting. I watch various shows featuring 200 square-foot adorable homes and think…”Man, that would be awesome, but…” There is always a but.
I need space to work as an artist.
What if people want to come and visit?
We have two boys who aren’t leaving the house anytime soon.
These are just a few of the very real considerations that have pushed the idea of tiny home living from my realm of possibility.
Can this even be a reality for a family?
We stayed in a cabin at the YMCA of the Rockies for four nights and five days. 600 square feet. One small bathroom, a small kitchen, one living area that doubled as an eating area. A bedroom for me and my husband, and one for the boys to share. And you know what? It was more than enough space for us. We figured out how to live in that amount of space, and we did it well. We had four forks in the drawer and six plates, so when a meal was done, dishes were immediately cleaned, because there were no extras upon which to rely. The simplicity of this kind of life… doing because there isn’t another option, was life-giving in a way. Sometimes when I have so many extra things at my disposal, including space, I use it as an excuse not to do maintenance tasks that would make me feel so much better.
The same goes with toys. We brought various items for the kids to play with, but not nearly the amount they normally have available. Yet it was sufficient, and I saw, for the first time in a long time, their little imaginations light up… pretend play, problem solving, and outdoor play increased drastically because it was necessary. Necessity is the mother of invention.
Another thing that we decided to do was to get rid of technology for those five days. Each of our boys have a kindle fire and they have become very attached to them. I noticed the unhealthy attachment when their time would be up for the day. The eruption of whining, pleading for more time, and general funk that took over for the next two hours was telling. I’ve been on my phone far too much, and my husband is more than often seen with his chromebook on his lap. We all needed a technology time out.
The results were encouraging. We became a more engaged, emotionally healthy family unit. Our boys were forced to come up with their own fun and even, dare I say it? Play with each other! I saw their relationship grow substantially in those five days. There was more patience, respect, and care. No, it certainly wasn’t perfect and we still had to break up several fights a day, but I could see a big difference.
The lack of space and technology caused my husband and me to become more engaged with our boys. Since Amazon Freetime wasn’t our on-call babysitter for five days, and we couldn’t send them to their individual rooms for time outs, Tim and I needed to actively come up with ideas for the boys, engage in play with them, and supervise. Our children didn’t necessarily need us to entertain them, but they did need some direction… that’s what we are here for, right?
It grieves me when I think that it took losing all our devices, and reducing our home size to less than half, to remind us of the importance of our time together. And perhaps, some families can figure out how to do that while still plugged in and with 2000+ square feet. That’s awesome, but I’m one of those folks that need things taken away in order to make the better choice (this is precisely why you will not find ice cream in my freezer…I have NO self-control!).
Ok, so we are not going to go completely off-the-grid or buy a tiny home (yet), but here are four big changes we are making in order to live out the valuable lessons we learned over this trip.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!