Limit your Options

In Waldorf literature and blogs, the writers are critical of the popular parenting practice of offering children a myriad of choices about everything. They feel that children should be directing their energy toward growing and learning and playing, and not deciding what to eat and wear and do all the time. The rhythm of the day (routine) is supposed to carry them along without them having to think about every little thing.

Carrie, of The Parenting Passageway blog (my favorite Waldorf blog), is always going on about this. I agree with her, to a point. I also agree with the unschooling philosophy that treats children and their desires respectfully.

But this post isn’t about your kids. It’s about you. The same idea that works well for smoothing transitions and eliminating conflict throughout the day with your kids, can work wonders for you.

How many times per day are we stymied by what to eat, what to wear, what to do, when to go to bed, and so on? If you have to decide these things from scratch every day, at some point your resolve to make good choices will begin to break down.

It’s hard to fight against the tide all day long, but there are lots of ways that you can use to narrow your options, and thus save your will for more important things than what to eat for breakfast.

I got tired of trying to decide what to eat for breakfast and lunch every day, so I decided that I would just eat the same thing every day. For breakfast I have a smoothie. I put different things in it every day, so I still have some variety. For lunch I have a salad with beans or a salad with fruit and leftover soup.

You can also limit your options by making penalties for yourself. I’ve been doing a no-sugar month with my cousin where we have to pay each other $5 for every sugary item we eat. That’s called putting your money where your mouth is. Limiting your options for food begins and ends at the grocery store. Don’t buy junk, and you can’t eat junk (at least at home).

I don’t have trouble deciding what to wear. I just grab something, but if you do, try simplifying your wardrobe. Have less clothing. Or try wearing the same thing every Monday, Tuesday, etc. plus or minus a sweater or tights or something to bend with the weather.

As far as deciding what to do, you can limit your TV watching by not having cable or a tv at all. Or you can use the same tactic of owing money every time you watch TV outside the time you have allowed.

You can motivate yourself to workout more by joining a running group. I recently started a group, and since I’m “hosting” it, I have to go twice a week even if no one else shows up. Make a commitment to a friend. Sign up for a race. Once you put money down for a race, you probably won’t want to waste the money by not training.

Building routines are a great way to limit your options. Every day when you wake up, you empty the dishwasher (drain board in my case) and start a load of laundry. Every night before bed you pick up the living room. Every morning you go down to the basement to work before your son wakes up. Every summer morning you walk out the door, breathe in the fresh air, and water your garden.

You don’t think about what to do—you just do it. This eliminates all the tiresome whining by your traitor mind about “ugh, what to do now, I think I’ll just go on my computer and read blogs until Caleb starts bugging me.” Or “I can’t decide what to eat, so I’ll just have chips and salsa.” I don’t think about what to have for lunch, I just start making my salad.

Daily Rundown

Breakfast-Smoothie with spinach and berries

Lunch-salad with black beans and guac (I swear I don’t have this every day. I haven’t had it in 3 days! It’s totally my favorite though.)

Snack-strawberries and dates (while Caleb was using his own money to have a McDonald’s milkshake-which I admit to have a weakness for, but I can’t have any sugar, so it was natural sugars for me.)

Dinner-I’m about to have a burrito bowl (all the stuff of a burrito, without the tortilla). I’m going to have a couple of tortilla chips with it, but no more than a serving. We have chili (with veggies in it), veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms), raw brocccoli, raw shredded carrots, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce. I might make banana whip for dessert…not sure yet.

Workout-just played around in the gym with Caleb and shot baskets for 30-45 minutes. I had a hard run yesterday, so I decided to take a rest. I also lifted-legs.

Work done-finished up buses and planes and dremeled story animals, finished keys, worked on bulldozers-might finish those up tonight

tv-none…I did watch a nature video with Caleb on Wednesday, but we agreed that doesn’t count against my no-TV month, since it was for his benefit and not mine. I’m starting to feel antsy to watch something though for my own enjoyment (not that I don’t enjoy David Attenborough).

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