First things first, I’m no expert on kids, but I am a mom to a wild 1 year old and sweet 3 year old. I’m half graciously, half stumbling my way through this new kid world and figuring things out as I go. What I didn’t expect was that I would be figuring myself out too. Being a new mom has opened me to see the world differently and guided me to go deeper within myself to bring out the light within. This light shined on a new perspective on life: to live simply and to simply love. This would transfer to how we raise our kids.
I remember being pregnant and asking myself the big questions like ‘what kind of mother do I want to be?’, ‘what kind of home do I want him to grow up in?’, and ‘what activities do I want to do with my son?’ I thought of these all the time and read everything I could find on the subject. But like everything, the answer is always inside. I knew in my heart I wanted him to experience the beauty of the world, nature, art and people. I wished for him to explore his senses in an environment that was safe and comforting but also vibrant and curious. It was important that he realized he can create things, art, and music with his own little hands using his creativity and talents. And it was especially important that we spent good times in nature. If he learned to appreciate the environment, then there’s hope that he would love and care for it and want to preserve it.
With these core wishes in mind I felt I had a good foundation for parenthood. Once I started maternity leave (a good eight weeks before my due date thanks to the amazing German system) I had plenty of time to get our home ready. And this is when I experienced nesting. I must have missed this notion of nesting in all the books and blogs I read. All of a sudden the urges to clean our home like a mad woman, sort out all the closets, make crafts, knit (which I’ve never done before, ever!) and a bunch of other things I thought only grandmas do started making a whole lot of sense. I proudly embraced this nesting phase and would use it as an excuse for just about everything. Like when my husband would annoyingly ask why I really needed those boxes from the basement for the third time and my response was simply “because I’m nesting!” So here I am, nesting away thinking how do I adapt our home for our little one soon to come. I would recall walking into kids rooms and baby stores thinking ‘do they really need all this stuff?’
Setting up a home for a baby can be overwhelming. Especially when you have everyone telling you what to do, what you need, what to buy, etc. For me, it seemed like a baby bump was also a magnet for baby advice, even from random strangers on the street. My advice: toss out that 5+ page long baby registry list!
Yes, all good parents want it all for their babies, but is that really good for baby or you? Is overloading yourself and your baby with everything they could possibly need one day the best approach? If you’re expecting your first, you can relax in knowing that a baby’s needs are simple. Plus, when have you ever heard a 2 month old complain that she wanted her nursery with an animal theme not princesses?! The hard truth is that we as parents are the ones that impose all these demands upon ourselves and somehow along the way transfer it to our children.
I propose a change in thinking which in turn will result in a change in being and doing. I propose simplicity, in how we live and how we raise our children. What does that mean exactly? I think it starts off by realizing life is to be lived, not bought. I believe the best of life are experiences, not things. However, I totally get that kids like stuff (and mamas like shopping!), but us as parents get to choose what that stuff is. Let it be things that encourage experiences. When I sought to create UpUp Baby, I knew that whatever I did offer had to allow a child to experience life, through the elements of simple play. More on that in a later post.
As I mentioned, I was a studious mother-to-be. I read a lot! But the absolute best book I read was Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. Thanks sis for gifting me this book. All those aspirations and ideas for how I wanted to parent were clearly written out right under my nose.
Kim writes “Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their worlds”. That made a lot of sense to me and so I committed to providing my soon to arrive bundle of joy with a simple and loving environment. Now that made things a whole lot easier to prepare! Less stuff also meant less time wasted meandering around shops and more money in my pocket.
However, contrary to our simple approach, we had two baby showers for our first, but with good reason. We travelled back to Miami for a visit and had a shower there to celebrate with family and one back home in Germany with close friends. However, we opted for no baby registry. We knew that if we went down that path, we would be loaded with stuff since it’s quite easy to just check, check, check on all things baby at a baby store. We knew our family wanted to chip in in some way so we asked them to contribute with spending money. This allowed us to get the things we really needed and wanted. So I focused on the important things, the essentials of course (crib, changing area for example), and then a few fun pieces like simple play gym, a handful of plush and wooden toys. Then for our friends in Germany we asked to stock up our kids book shelf. This worked out perfectly.
Soon enough, we were ready and right on time too. Andreas came three weeks earlier than expected! We welcomed him into a clean, simple, nurturing and loving home. He had us and that was the most important. The rest was simply nice.
Check out UpUp Baby on Pinterest under upupbabyshop where I’ve created a board with wonderful examples of simple baby nurseries. I’ll be frequently adding more inspiration so make sure to follow us.
What was your experience like? I’d love to hear your story on what worked well to prepare your home for the baby. Or if you are expecting now, where do you see you can apply and benefit from simple living? Write your comments below.