How to be a Fulltime Minimalist Mum
Why be a Minimalist Mum?
Before having children, even though parents-to-be expect to be sleep-deprived and change dirty diapers, they can never be fully prepared. When a child comes into the picture, their sleep schedule and pretty much every other aspect of their life goes through a roller-coaster ride.
- Working from home: Can be stressful. Juggling between caring for your little one and working is a battle that can tire you beyond what you were prepared for. In this case, you’ll have to make adjustments and plan your work around childcare.
- Relationship with your husband: Even though having children can make it less likely that you will divorce, your relationship with your spouse will be affected forever. For example, as housework skyrockets, mothers, being better at multitasking may get more done at home and may feel like fathers (who aren’t that great at multitasking) aren’t doing enough.
- Time for friends and socializing: No comment.
You’re not alone in your parenting struggles and worries. Even though modern parenting inventions like fancy strollers and baby monitors have made our lives easier, it still doesn’t seem to be enough. When things get easier, we tend to make things harder for ourselves.
We also feel guilty about taking care of ourselves and push ourselves to be the ‘perfect’ parent. And many of us are plagued by trying to keep up with the Mumdarshians.
Even though globalization has exposed us to more hobbies and sports practised in different parts of the world, do we really need to be a tiger mom who over-schedules, controls and forces her children to take up an astonishing quantity of hobbies and educational activities (like extra language lessons, sports practice, etc)? Some parents tend to do this so that their children can secure a better job in the future or to compete with other parents. They just don’t want your children to miss out. Even though this is understandable, it can be chaotic. How can you enjoy motherhood when you’re always in an emergency state of rushing from one task to the other?
This is where minimalist parenting comes in.
Being a minimalist mum is not about living like a monk. It begins with you listing down the values you set for your family without comparing yourself with what all your friends, relatives and neighbours are doing with their children. It’s about forgetting perfectionism, reprioritizing and following your values and what you think is important for your family. It’s about starting small, improving bit by bit and remembering that there is no perfect parent.
You don’t need to act on every piece of advice you read and hear. You need to decide and pick whatever aligns with your goals for your family. Your life is unique and you are on your unique path.
Don’t lose yourself in trying to be a great parent. Self-care is not selfish; wear clothes and do things that make you feel great. Prioritise yourself and your activities, treat yourself well, and be happy. Remember to nurture the relationship with your husband and have fun with him. Maintain your relationship with your friends and connect with them too.
You don’t have unlimited time. The time we have needs to be prioritized and managed. You won’t ever have the time to do everything you want to do. Just because you can’t make breakfast every day doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You need to get picky and fit in what’s most important. To better manage time:
- Encourage your children to sleep on time. (I kind of had no life until my kids started sleeping on time.)
- Don’t donate the time you have set aside for your children to someone else.
- Give children chores to do. Chores help with time management, can be done together for fun and make children feel useful.
Declutter. Only have things that you absolutely love. If you don’t love something, there’s no point in giving it space in your precious home and life. There’s no point in spending time managing it. If you lost something in a fire and you wouldn’t pay to replace the same, it isn’t important enough and can go. (Bye-bye!)
- Be careful when you shop and only bring home things that you need. Buying less can save you more money. Instead of thinking about whether you have enough money to buy something, ask yourself whether you truly need it or whether you want it just because others have it. This will give you insight into distinguishing between your needs and your wants.
- Plan your spending and saving in advance and stick to your plan.
- Educate children about money management and how much things cost.
Educating children is not the same as schooling. Children need to be continually learning at home too.
- Prioritize their Islamic education.
- Try to live close to the masjid and take the boys to attend congregational prayer often.
- Don’t help kids with homework; instead, train them to do them on their own. This is very important if you want to feel the freedom of a minimalist mum.
- Encourage them to be responsible and make them understand that their decisions are valued. When you go grocery shopping, if you can handle the stress, take the kids with you and let them pick what they want to eat. It’s a superb opportunity to educate them.
Playtime and activities are important but take it easy. Minimalist mums keep an open mind regarding playtime. You don’t have to play with them all the time; train them to play independently and with fewer toys.
- Chores too can be done as a means of having fun.
- Gadgets can be used as well, but it would be great if kids can develop their own games using them. Make sure to set screentime limits.
- Wooden toys and outdoor play can also stimulate children and teach them to play without store-bought toys. When outside, teach them to play games like hide-and-seek, to read or to do some gardening independently without you having to play with them. Children who play and do activities outside are healthier and learn to play more creatively.
- Take them to the library and read together, go on a holiday and so on. Even while travelling, be a minimalist mum and don’t overschedule. Just go with the flow and do whatever fits your goals and values and how you want to be remembered by your children.
Use mealtimes to connect with children. The actual preparation and presentation of food don’t matter as much as the connection that happens during mealtime.
- Let everyone pitch in during weekend meals and don’t expect perfection. (Yes, yes, Mr Husband can help too!)
- If cooking isn’t your thing, it’s ok; just stick to something simple. (In this case, teach your family ‘the positives of simplicity’ and ‘the importance of being grateful’ or something.)
There are so many other ways to be a minimalist mum. It’s up to you to sit down, think and finalize what the priorities and goals of your family are going to be.
It’s amazing how children can be one of the greatest tests, yet one of the greatest sources of fun and joy. They expand our ummah and can be a means of earning rewards even after we pass away. Though they can seem to complicate your life at times, children can brighten/activate our dull routine, add a sense of personal fulfilment and enrich your life.
Parenting these lovely things doesn’t need to be difficult and overburdening. Never feel like a failure. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Stick to the goals and values of your family while parenting. Don’t compare yourself with other mums, carve out your own minimalist mum journey and create some awesome memories with the kids.
Make duaa, raise them the best you can and leave the rest to Allaah. Remember that every small step you take is counted.