So much of our lifestyle feels unnatural. I am home alone; my husband is on a business trip. I am sitting on the floor, trying to spend quality time with my daughter. It should be the highlight of my day. It feels boring instead. We can choose between a boring book or maybe some stickers to stick to the wall. Some markers. She does not like legos. Why am I not enjoying this? The answer is that people have not evolved to enjoy this type of activity. Being alone with a toddler in a flat playing with toddler toys is not what our ancestors did for thousand of years.
It takes a village: In a primitive society, we would be part of a nearly 150- people tribe. All neighbors. Family, friends and colleagues would be close. We would always have adult company and help when we needed to. We could gossip, joke, problem-solve and philosophize whenever we wanted. We were entertained and supported by being around adults. Our kids were familiar with the village. They were cared for and learned from a variety of caregivers besides the primary ones.
Nurtured by nature: In a primitive lifestyle, we would be constantly nurtured and entertained by nature. No wonder why it feels so boring for me and my daughter to be in our flat. In nature we would have thousands of stimuli: movement, wind, sounds, colors, life. Rather than looking at animals in a book, we would look at real animals. Rather than exploring our cupboards we would explore a breathtakingly beautiful natural environment.
Entertained by physical activity: The primitive toddler not only would enjoy nature but would see us and the rest of the ‘tribe’ engaged in physical activity. Working would not mean looking at a screen. Being creative would not mean pressing buttons at a machine. They would see us gather fruit. Farm. Collect water. Build tools. Make clothes. For entertainment, we would tell stories or dance around the campfire. More physical activity means healthier bodies and better mood. Our kids would learn the social and practical skills needed to survive in life by imitation. They would be part of our lives including work, social activities and fun. Right now we remove our kids from life. We work without them. We have fun in theaters, cinemas, restaurants and bars without them. We leave them in artificial environments and keep them most of the time away from us, away from real life.
In the primitive society, we would do physical work chatting with our friends and family. We would feel creative, productive and belonging. Our young children would be on us and older children around us. Feeling safe but also constantly being entertained. Educated by our activity, our chatting with our friends and nature. Parenting would not feel so hard.
In the modern society, we have flipped it. We are alone in flats. Rather than our kids observing us doing productive work and have fun, we observe them play with artificial toys away from nature. Their instincts of exploring and learning are partly satisfied. Our needs for sociability and physical movement are partly satisfied. We are bored. They are bored. We are lonely.
I am not suggesting to go back in time or give up modern-day comforts. What I am suggesting is to make our lifestyle more natural, to be happier. Here are some ideas:
Create a village around you: Strengthen the power of your existing relationships even if they live far. They will give you emotional support. You also need support from people living close to you. After a tiring day at work you cannot prepare the kids, take the tube and commute to have a chat with a friend. It just does not happen. A skype call is not the same as having food together. Build relationships with people in your neighborhood. Don’t be shy. Don’t be alone.
Stay close to nature: Garden, park, and playgrounds are a good start. Dress appropriately and ignore the weather. Make the extra effort to leave the city every once in a while.
Engage in physical activities with your kids: Do practical things with them from cooking and cleaning, to walking and shopping. Do not give up on things you enjoy doing, try doing them with your kids. Roughhouse. Play sports. Go to nature and explore.
I have not exhausted all the ideas we can steal from our primitive ancestors. Real unprocessed food. Sleeping close to our children. Less working hours and more fun. Co-dependence. What are your ideas about how to live a more natural lifestyle?
This article was original published on Medium.