“The things the child sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul.”
I’ve shared this quote many times before, and I’m sure I will continue to do so! It’s one I come back to time and again, and for me it underlines my desire to give my daughter a beautiful childhood, a space in which to grow, learn, and flourish.
I think that beauty is underrated as a parenting value. Of course childhood is messy – gloriously so at times, with pasta-smeared faces and muddy knees – but it is also a time when we can begin to foster an appreciation and enjoyment for the beauty and goodness that this world has to offer. If we surround our children with beauty their world – and ours – will simply be more beautiful, and this seed of beauty will nestle it’s way deep into their souls where it can grow over the years. Taking the time to put a fresh flower in our child’s room or to share art with them doesn’t take much effort, but it shows them that they are cherished, respected, and valued.
Creating a beautiful environment for your children doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here are some ideas for bringing beauty into your daily life, whatever those days look like:
- Plants. Adding a few plants to a room can make such a difference to the look and feel of the space. As a bonus, young children can water the plants as fun practical life work.
- Fresh flowers or foliage. Ditto. It feels luxurious, but even a small branch from a tree in a vase or a few flowers from the garden can bring so much beauty to a room. We try and buy a bunch of inexpensive fair-trade flowers each week – I’d rather buy flowers and bring my own flask of coffee!
- Books with beautiful illustrations. Seek out picture books with gorgeous illustrations from the library or for your personal collections. There are so many beautiful fiction and non-fiction books out there, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
- Poetry. Your children are never too young for poetry, and it has so many benefits for them. Just one poem a day means you’ll have read 365 in a year – tie it into bedtime or breakfast and make a habit of it.
- Rich language. Use rich language with your children from day one. Teach them beautiful words – ephemeral, mellifluous, lacrimose, translucent, sumptuous. I refuse to believe that young children can learn the names of thirty dinosaurs but cannot learn other rich language.
- Art. Display art in the home low down where children can see it, read about artists, and visit galleries together. Just like poetry, simple art appreciation can be fitted into your daily rhythm. Here are some thoughts about discussing art with young children.
- Time outdoors. You can’t beat nature for beauty. Pots on a balcony, hikes on nature reserves, a trip to the seaside, playing in the local park. Point out the details, the cloud formations, tiny flowers and mosses, or the song of a bird.
- Music. Not just classical! Introduce your children to the music you love. If you’re feeling stuck, my favourite place to start is with Peter and the Wolf. I tend to put music on first thing in the morning whilst I make coffee, and later in the afternoon.
- Toys. You can now buy so many open-ended, beautiful toys made from natural materials such as wood, silk and wool. Not only are these wonderful for children, but they look good when not being played with too. This also applies to the tools your children uses – small, real tools work better and are usually more beautiful than their “toy” equivalents, real ceramics and glass tableware more pleasant than bright plastic.
- Burn candles. Especially on darker days! Nothing can match the magical beauty of a glimmering candle illuminating a bowl of steaming soup on a sombre day.
- Moments of mindfulness. This one is for us as parents. Take a moment to feel the weight of a tiny hand in yours. Breathe in the smell of their hair. Notice how the golden morning light highlights the dust on the windows as you put the kettle on. There is beauty everywhere in the ordinary if you stop to notice it.
No, focusing on beauty won’t stop the inevitable oatmeal spills or sticky handprints on the wall. Vases may get knocked over, books may get drawn on, and your soft music may get drowned out by the cries of a tired baby. But little by little, moment by moment, the beauty adds up, and that little seed will keep growing.
How do you bring beauty into to your family home?
PS. It’s just a few days until membership opens up for The Peaceful Home! I’m so excited to see who will be joining. You can find all the information here: https://fridabemighty.com/courses/the-peaceful-home/