Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris
This is an excerpt from my 8 year-old daughter’s blog post, titled “Useful and Beautiful – Love and Peace.”
“Today our mom asked please go through your things and put in a pile what you want to give to the crisis nursery and good will. We already have a pile of covers so the babys could stay warm. Anna cleaned her closet so she went from a wardrobe of clothes to three drawers of clothes. Henry made his bed and I cleaned out our toys down to what is useful, what we use and beautiful. We went down to one doll and our build-a-bears.” ~Emily
This is my 6 year-old daughter with two bags of clothes that she no longer wears or likes, or more accurately stated, never wore. Anna is the embodiment of beauty and simplicity. She only wears her favorites, which are usually soft, never tight, and colorful. Her wardrobe matches her heart - honest and authentic. She knows what she likes, and only does what she likes. She will not be bullied, bribed, shamed, or guilted into being anyone else. I remind myself often to celebrate her authenticity, and not squelch it.
This is everything Anna finds useful and beautiful. Anna is my teacher of order and simplicity, and reminds me daily she blooms best with less.
This is Anna’s closet, and the dresser in it. She is scarcely using 3 drawers – one for socks and underwear, one for pajamas and strappies, and one for her 2 pair of school pants. I do not power struggle about clothes with Anna; I just taught her to do laundry. Every night she makes sure she has a favorite shirt, pants, and socks for school.
Henry is very proud of his bed-making skills. He doesn’t care that his wall is purple. He chose to move-in with his sister and decorated his wall, too.
If you are committed to the simplified life, here are a few parenting tools to get your children involved in the simplifying process.
- Attitude of Abundance. It is never a punishment or threat, but a privilege to share. And that is the thought that creates the action, that gets the result. My conversation with my children is Recycle, Reuse, and Regive. It has served its purpose for us, now let’s offer it for someone else to use. It is this resourceful spirit of attitude that lays the way for a life of plenty.
- Second-hand love and kindness. When you practice love and kindness, your children will know love and kindness. Let them witness your random acts of kindness and have conversations about love and kindness. Just this week, I saw a homeless man sitting at a stop light in the snow. I rolled down my window and gave him a granola bar. When I picked up the children from school, I was a granola bar short for after-school snack. I asked my oldest daughter if she could wait until we got home for a snack because I gave one away to a homeless man, and she responded, “Did you give him a blanket too?” These are the moments that melt my heart. Thank you God for sending me Emily – she is my teacher of unconditional, whole-hearted love.
- Create Space. Creating space is holistic well-being. It is as a physical, mental, and spiritual experience. Physical space allows mental order and spiritual evolvement. If you do not have a current use or know its future use, do not save because your future self might like it, need it, or use it. That future self can deal with it! Is it empowering you today?
- Invite them to share. Sounds simple; it is simple. Children love projects, especially useful and purposeful ones. Just remember, it’s the process, not the product. Start small – socks, books, race cars – and before you know, you create a habit of continually looking at your things through the lens of useful and beautiful. And if it isn’t, why do you want it?
Spread the Love,
♣ As you assess your home – ask yourself these two questions: Is this useful or beautiful? Is this empowering me? You know what to do with the No’s…Recycle, Reuse, Regive.