a simple childhood

a simple life

a simple life

Every so often I find myself thinking about the simple things in life which will create lasting memories for my kids, and how I can make them happen. I wonder which adventures will be the ones imprinted in their memories forever, generating those really special feelings about their childhood. It usually crosses my mind when it seems as though we are in the midst of one of those moments, and I feel deeply happy about it.

But I can absolutely guarantee, that although my own parents would have loved the sight of me and my siblings enjoying the simple things in life, that not a whole lot of thought would have gone into the creation of that moment, or into where that moment would end up in the grand scheme of lifelong memories. Why is that? Why do I spend time thinking about family traditions, and ways to create great childhood memories, when it seemed to just happen quite naturally thirty or forty years ago.

I think it’s because life was inherently more simple in the seventies. That’s my memory of it anyway. Those ‘towel over the shoulder, bike riding to the sea’ memories were a dime a dozen. Sunday picnics in the park happened more often than not in the warmer months, and camping was the natural form of most family holidays. Alternatively in our family, we would head across the Nullabor plain to visit relatives on the other side. We would listen to Abba, tear Mintie wrappers into the longest strips possible, and play ‘I spy’ for hours on end, to entertain ourselves during the 36 hour drive. Once there, it would be a total farm life experience. We would feed chickens, shoot guns, ride on harvesters, and do all the stuff city slickers rarely get the opportunity to do. Amazing memories. Nothing fancy. None of us needed to be reminded to ‘stay present’ or to ‘live in the moment’. Simplicity just seemed to happen, and we were there to experience every second of it.

Today it feels as though all of the simple things I crave for my family, need to be sought…and then created. Life has evolved into something so complex, that it needs to be consciously pared back to reveal the basics.

There are probably loads of factors influencing the shift; an obsession with consumerism and overindulgence, our need to be in a permanent state of ‘busy’ to name a few. But in my mind, technology is the greatest threat to a simple, wondrous childhood and life full of sweet memories. Technology, mostly screens, consume us. Our minds and our time is consumed, and our energy and creativity is diverted and sapped like never before. Children role model on screen obsessed parents who are unable to sit for more than a few moments without checking a device or looking for entertainment. There is an entire generation of young people unable to walk around without being physically connected to a device, and essentially disconnected from the world. No-one is denying the problem, I’m pointing a finger directly at myself as I write this…but it’s not something which will change without conscious effort. I would suggest that it’s one of the main reasons that so many of us are seeking lives less influenced by the rush of modern life, and more inspired by the traditions of the past. A life for our kids which somehow reflects the childhoods we remember.

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT

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15 thoughts on “a simple childhood

  1. Very true, I wonder how it would be like for our children’s children. Complicating matters is the busy work life that we have now. someone has to sacrifice and quit their jobs to dedicate proper time for the kids through their foundational years. This is one area where the rest of the world has set a blind eye on. Thanks for the article, it has made it bold and clear.

    • Thank you Edgar. I shudder to think where technology will take this generation and the next. And you are right, the pressure to provide the ‘right’ sort of parenting in those early years is huge. Families can either struggle financially or struggle to share enough time together depending on the decision they have to make.

  2. Hey Mish
    This post strikes a chord with me.
    Thank you for reminding me of the childhood we took for granted but was so great.
    Our family did much the same things and I remember those endless summers down at the beach and farm trips as well.
    I am so grateful we got to spend part of our lives in that carefree place….. as you have said it seems so hard to get back to without a lot of effort but is certainly worth trying for.

    • Absolutely Mish, all I want for my boys is for their lives to be as carefree and uncomplicated as possible. I am a total screen Nazi with them, which will quite possibly backfire on me later on, and I also completely restrict my own screen time in front of them. I try and draw on all of the simple experiences that I loved as a kid, and bring those things into their lives today.

  3. Love this. So true, I often think about this and plan to write a post on my blog soon about what my 3 week break from Facebook taught me (because for me FB and Pinterest are two of my biggest addictions when it comes to screen time). It’s sad that it is also not as safe these days to do what we once did growing up either, I remember being only around 7 and riding up and down our street by myself and wandering through the bush with my 10 year old sister to the park without a second thought. These days you would be far more cautious about the idea.

    Popping over for #IBOT 🙂

    • Yes safety is definitely an external factor that impacts on the freedom we can give our kids today. We were the same as kids, scooting off on bikes into the bush, and just coming home for food! FB and Pinterest obsessions are pretty common these days. I’ll be interested to read about your period of abstinence!

  4. There is a lot of truth in this. I don’t think I actively seek to create memories for my children though, they just seem to happen. And while simplicity is often the best we cannot ignore the fact that technology has become part of our normal lives and you cannot simply delete it. So maybe make it into something that is a simple family memory – make some popcorn and all sit together and watch a movie (no multi tasking), go out on an adventure and snap photos of things (sort of like a treasure hunt), play some music and see who can guess the song fastest.

    • It is probably a good idea to incorporate screens into life and fun things. Definitely no multi-tasking!! I don’t feel like I always have to actively create simple life experiences for my kids, but my thoughts are there enough for me to be aware of it.

  5. Oh how I love this post. You have really nailed so much of my feelings here. I often look back at my childhood with fondness of the most simple of memories. Yet, today, I wonder what memories my own children will cherish. I want to not try too hard to make their childhood memorable. I just want it to happen. I’m sure it will, but why does it feel so hard? And the screen thing, we are managing this okay. I think. We aren’t screen free, but we certainly monitor it. It’s something that we do need be concious of. Hopefully the rest will just happen. x

  6. Love this post, Michelle. So many gorgeous memories from your childhood. I remember tearing the mintie wrappers too. I often wonder about what memories my two will hold dear and if we do enough of the simple outdoorsy stuff with them. I think we do need to make more of a conscious effort these days with all of the other influences in our lives.

    • I love looking back on some of the stuff we used to do as kids. In a way my childhood could have seemed quite boring from the outside, because we didn’t ‘do’ a lot of external stuff. I’m a fairly difficult to bore sort of person now, and I’m not sure if that’s something I learnt through a very simple childhood, or whether it’s just me!

  7. I so appreciate these thoughts. So often the word ‘simple’ equates with easy and lacking complexity, but choosing to live simply and more slowly (especially with children), to put down the phone or walk away from the computer and TV, that is anything but easy in our culture. Choosing a lifestyle that requires more making and doing in many ways is more difficult, but it is also far more rewarding. It trains us to suck the marrow of life, as Thoreau said, to know as we look back on these years that we were present. Thanks for your thoughts. x

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