Last week, Elizabeth Byler Younts shared part 1 of Amish Lifestyle, English Life and the first three ways you can emulate the Amish lifestyle without being Amish. Keep reading to find out the two other ways you can incorporate Amish simple living into your everyday life!
Reader Question: How can I live the Amish or at least close enough to it without actually becoming Amish?
I do not advocate an 8th-grade education that the Amish practice. I won’t apologize for my disagreement either (hehe). I just believe that our children should be empowered with a very well-rounded education so they have the ability to truly pursue what God has for their futures.
What I fully advocate, on the other hand, is the at-home education that the children receive. The girls and boys are taught from a young age to help around the house (and farm or business). Their lifestyle is so vastly different, Amish families NEED this help from their children. They don’t have our conveniences. And I don’t mean that children should be over-worked … that’s your decision on what that means.
Children should be taught to help within their family unit and this will also help the community at large. If an elderly woman or someone who recently had a baby needs help with vacuuming or unloading the dishwasher during a visit, an age-appropriate child should be willing and able to help.
This. Is. Education. And, it’s often the education that gets forgotten. It is difficult to build a community and a healthy family unit if as the next generation rises that they don’t have at least a very good competency with basic skills—or the character to follow through.
Along with this we should allow our children to grow in a specialty or two that can serve your community: electronics, car repair, sewing, woodworking, organizing, photography, singing, baking, planning … there are so many! All of these things will take some education, training, practice, experience … but they are skills that can be used universally in many community scenarios … and also professional scenarios—but often can get it’s biggest springboard from their home education regardless of where they study academics.
In an Amish home it seems that both sons and daughters each seem to gravitate toward certain skills. Some of the daughters prefer to do the baking and someone else takes on the sewing and so on.
Providing this as best as your able for your children (library books, YouTube videos, blogs—free learning!) and finding their natural bend is a beautiful gift. This does not mean that at seven years old they will be or should be competent on all the household chores. This is where you are able to see what they can handle as they grow. It’s an ongoing conversation and relationship to see how their home education will enhance their formal education (whether at home or away) and their character.
We talk a lot about the simple life here at Amish Wisdom. But, truly … what does this mean?
I might be alone on this but when I think of the Amish life, there are many things that I simply don’t find simple. I don’t want to use a ringer washer. I don’t want to have kerosene around for lamps. I don’t want to depend on a driver or a buggy to get me places. I don’t want to wear dresses everyday or sew them, for that matter.
These things might not bother you at all … but we have to admit … an average American lifestyle has conveniences we don’t want to give up, right? I don’t believe there’s any reason to.
Conveniences such as a dishwasher or electricity are GIFTS in my world. It provides me with time for other things. In my homeschool life this means more time for my daughters and for us to pursue a well-rounded education. I won’t go into all the reasons I appreciate modern appliances and lifestyle.
But what I see as “simplicity” is the family culture. Have you looked into your child’s eyes today? Amish families don’t have the distractions of so many of our “conveniences” … like googling what to do on a rainy day. Their focus is internal instead of external and I LOVE that.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate simplicity:
- Can your own food and eat what you grow. Eat simple whole-food meals. The whole family can be involved.
- Have a reading time after dinner as a family instead of having the TV on. In our house we take turns on who gets to pick the next read-aloud.
- Family games (made up ones are the best) instead of electronic ones.
- Have each family member (who is old enough) help write thank you notes or encouragements instead of using email or text.
- The funny or sentimental thing that happened over dinner—don’t use it as a Facebook status but share your appreciation and love directly to your family member. Tell THEM how fantastic they are.
- Clean the house together instead of it only being left up to mom.
- Share stories about your own life and the stories you remember from generations before you. Pull out those hold photo albums and share an evening together over memories.
- When rewarding or spending time with your child don’t compare the gesture to the “Jones’”—but let it be simple and from your heart. Write a note. An extra cuddle with a chapter of their favorite book—or tea—or poetry. Make a family member’s favorite meal or dessert.
- The simple act of giving. If you don’t use it at your house—give it to someone who will.
- Here’s a big one: CARE FOR YOUR ELDERLY. We have busy live and this isn’t always easy and often times I fail at this (I’m so convicted right now!), but what joy we bring when we give attention to the elderly. Teach your children to love them, serve them, and to impart joy and generosity.
There are many ways to incorporate the philosophy of “simple” into your home. These are merely suggestions that simplify the mentality of our everyday lifestyle. You’ll come up with your own as you seek out simplicity and live it out with intention.
I’m not going to apologize for this long post (okay, that’s just a bit of a tease). But, truthfully, I took this question very seriously and thought it over for several weeks before writing this post.
Keep in mind: while my knowledge and comfort level with the Amish is high because of my own family being Amish, I’m truly only an expert on my perspective and my own family. I hope that you can take these 5 ways and tweak them to work in your family.
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Elizabeth Byler Younts is a bestselling author and a 2014 Double RITA Finalist for her debut novel Promise to Return. Her latest title, Promise to Keep released October 13th. She is an Air Force Officer’s Wife and a homeschooling mom with two young daughters, living in Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was Amish as a child, and after her parents left the church, she still grew up among her Amish family and continues to speak Pennsylvania Dutch.