14 Ways to Parent Lite

It’s easy to simplify and be less acquisitive when you make the choice.

5 Ways to Be Mindful with a Baby

1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine

Help your baby feel relaxed and secure with a regular and enjoyable nighttime routine—for example, a bath followed by a feed, then put your baby to bed. Encourage healthy sleeping habits by putting your baby to bed on his back in a crib when tired but before being fully asleep. Say goodnight and leave the room. Don’t rock the baby to sleep all the time. Babies have to learn to fall asleep unaided. No need for crib mobiles and nightlights.

2. Keep nighttime interaction very, very low-key

Most new parents know they will be sleep-deprived for at least awhile. Just accept this fact and sleep when your baby sleeps. Put all other concerns aside.

However, if your baby requires attention during the night, make sure you keep the interaction to a minimum. Your baby needs to learn that nighttime is not for having fun—it’s for sleep. If your infant is a little older and still habitually cries after you leave the room or during the night: Wait a while before going to your baby. Say goodnight again, reassure your child, but make it clear that he is expected to stay in bed. Be firm; do not pick your baby up. Repeat this process, for however long it takes.

3. Play with your baby

Playing Peek-a-boo, Patty Cake, or Where’s Your Nose; reciting nursery rhymes; crawling around the room with your baby; and any other fun activities that you can invent enriches the bond between the two of you and helps baby to develop self-confidence.

4. Let babies discover the world on their own

Create a safe space on the floor in a room where anything potentially dangerous is secured and protected, add a few soft toys, then plop baby down and let him or her move.

5. Dance with your baby

If your baby is crying for attention, take your baby in your arms and waltz around the room. The more exaggerated and smooth your movement, the better. The movement will give your baby new sights to focus on and can soothe crying.

How to Connect with Growing Children

1. Organize a playgroup

Get together with other parents and children in your area and organize a playgroup. As the kids play, parents can develop friendships.

2. Walk your children to and from school

By walking with them, you not only get peace of mind that they’re safe but you also get to hear about their upcoming day on the way there and how their day went on the way home.

3. Give your children responsibilities to ensure they understand the value of hard work

Children like to feel helpful and will enjoy doing a few household chores. Ask them to help you make beds, dust, fold laundry and put it away, and set and clear the table.

4. Talk to your children about setting goals

Help them to identify a goal and then help them to achieve it. A good way to do this with a young child is to have them select something they want, such as a toy, then tell them the cost, and what efforts they will have to make in order to secure the item.

5. If you own a car, everyone in the family should wash it together

Washing, drying, and polishing the car (or bicycles) with earth-friendly products is good exercise and everyone getting wet and soapy is the best part for kids. It’s also better for the planet as well as your bank account.

6. Throw wild, silly dance parties with your kids

Hold a fun weekly dance session. Blast some favorite family tunes—the sillier the better—and dance vigorously. Children love it.

7. Play outdoors with your children whenever possible

Fill your backyard with inexpensive toys that challenge your children to stay physically fit. Here’s a list of inexpensive items that should be available at your local dollar store, or try to find them at garage sales. These items will provide a lifetime of family fun:

  • Frisbees. Anyone at any age can throw a Frisbee. Even the family dog can join in.
  • Tent for camping out. It doesn’t have to be a real tent—could be strung-up blankets for a camp out in the yard or on the balcony. Tell ghost stories, read by flashlight, and put on a shadow puppet show.
  • Hula hoop. Is there any toy more enduring? Keep a few around your yard and challenge guests to a Hula hoop contest.
  • Moveable seating for instant theatre. Be ready with inexpensive collapsible or stackable garden chairs, the next time your child decides to perform an impressive display of acrobatics, magic or karaoke. Five or six chairs lets you have a party—or a theatre—in an instant.
  • Tire swing. If you have a big, healthy tree in your yard, lucky you! You can create your own tire swing using an old tire and your DIY abilities—it’s tough work installing, but oh, so worth it. And it will last a lifetime.
  • Skipping ropes. Kids can skip by themselves using a short rope or with others using a longer one. Brush up on a few jump-rope rhymes and learn the rules to “Double Dutch.”
  • Hammock. Best if it comfortably holds a few people. A basic rope hammock costs about $20 and can be hung between two sturdy trees—but running, jumping, and everyone piling on the hammock on top of each other—priceless!
  • Flashlight and starchart to gaze at the stars. It’s amazing that a galaxy 2.5 million light years away can still be seen by the naked eye. Wait until dark, then lie back and look up at the sky. Download a star chart for the month (available for free online) and use the flashlight to read the chart. Star charts can be a bit confusing, but once you pick out a few distinctive constellations, the galaxies fall into place.
This web extra provides additional information related to an article titled, “Joining the Modern Minimalist Family,” which appeared in the October 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.