Blessings Off the Beaten Path

Too many kids today are so overburdened with parental, peer and societal pressures to succeed in both academic and extracurricular activities that they have little opportunity and perhaps insufficient energy to experience the active joys of just being kids. When we were growing up, children enthusiastically plunged into daily unstructured time to play outside, invent creative games and daydream—especially in summer. Being out-of-doors naturally prompted healthy exercise and lots of laughter!

Some of my fondest memories are from home-unschooling my four children. This educational approach advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for expanding young people’s innate curiosity and opportunities to explore topics that interest them. Most days you could find us outside engaged with nature, a superb place for cross-disciplinary learning about relevant subjects in ways that are meaningful and practical.

One of our favorite places was the beach at Independence Lake, in Dexter. With a portable microscope in hand, we examined the biodiversity of marine and other life in and around the water while hiking, swimming, picnicking and playing. I cherished being free of TV and cell phones and just relaxing together. Learning and moving at our own pace fed us on many levels and drew us close in our happy cocoon.

This month’s feature story, “Simplified Parenting: Why Less Means More Happiness,” by Deborah Shouse, makes a good case for less worried hurry in our days combined with clear communications of love as a cure to the stressors experienced by today’s overstimulated and overscheduled families. From learning and practicing each child’s love language to appreciating them for the just being the individuals they are, we discover the power of trusting our intuition. Creating rituals and de-cluttering every facet of life, too, can bring more peace and balance to the household.

As summer sizzles along, let’s indulge in its more relaxed schedule as we put busy agendas aside to be more present with our children, making the most of the summer holidays before they bump into the school year. Slowing down and living simply empowers families to better handle daily challenges and feel more affectionately authentic and playful. It’s often the simple things in life that bring us the greatest joy. How wonderful it is to discover the many miracles of our children.

To daily hugs,

Trina & John Voell, Publishers

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