Rachael Somerville, a member of ONE’s Strategic Relationships Team, shares her interview with ONE Moms on their strategies for minimalist parenting.
Our ONE advocates continually amaze us with their wisdom, commitment and compassion. Parent bloggers and ONE Moms Christine Koh of Boston Mamas and Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks, are no exception. They just published a book inspired by their blogs, Minimalist Parenting, which serves as a guidebook for today’s parents who are suffering from information overload.
I got a chance to interview these two lovely ladies via video chat about their new book, their work with ONE and the daily challenges of being parents. We discussed the book’s mantra: “make room for remarkable”, the things, people and activities that truly make a family happy.
Despite their busy lives, Asha and Christine still manage to make time to be actively involved in ONE in a variety of advocacy capacities. Most recently, Asha and Christine traveled with ONE to Ethiopia to learn about extreme poverty and the international parenting community.
Can you tell us more about your families and what inspired you to write the book?
Koh: I come from a very large family. I’m one of seven, and now I have two kids and a husband. In my earlier parenting years, I found myself thinking, “Well I should do this because this is what good parents do,” or “I should do this because I didn’t have it as a kid.” I came to a point where I realized that I wasn’t always doing these things with the best interests of my kids in mind..
Dornfest: My experience and my background are very different from Christine’s. I grew up in a very small family and I also have two kids. My experience was also one of being overwhelmed, having a child that acted differently from the way I thought kids acted and the way I was as a kid. It was a real range of self-discovery, and the experience has really taught me about trusting my own instincts and trusting my children as well.
In the introduction, you address the problem of “wrestling with abundance”—parents have too many choices, too many obligations, and too much stuff. Yet they feel like they always need to be doing more for their family. What creates this culture?
Dornfest: I think it’s an ironic problem to have, especially in the context of what we do here at ONE. But abundance can be a problem, even though in many ways, it’s a good problem to have. I think we all have felt that crush of information and opinions that make it difficult to listen to our own instincts. Especially where parenting is concerned- there are a lot of “experts” in the food industry, psychology, child development. It’s not that we should ignore all of that information, but we do need to strengthen our filters and our confidence in our own ability to raise children.
Koh: I agree with Asha there. The information age is wonderful, and we all benefit from quick access to any information we need, but it can create noise and block out what you truly care about and your parenting instincts.
ONE is super excited to have been able to sponsor your guys’ book signing at BlissDom. How does your work with ONE as an organization fit in with your philosophy in Minimalist Parenting?
Koh: That trip to Ethiopia was truly life-changing. In some ways I was very scared before that trip, wondering if we would be able to connect with mothers experiencing very different things than us. But we felt a universal connection with mothers halfway around the world, and it made a huge impact on me.
Dornfest: It was also a very stark contrast, because here we were writing a book about people wrestling with abundance, and very shortly thereafter, we visited people who are certainly not wrestling with abundance. And yet there are incredibly strong cultural norms about parenting, and we saw wonderful parenting happening. It was just that extremely visceral realization that parenting may look different around the world, but that the basic needs are very similar.