One of the greatest pleasures in living in a small town is seeing your children grow up in a more natural, simple environment. There really is nothing like it. My hometown, Stanthorpe was idyllic and the rich memories and slow start have given me a very solid foundation. Why do I consider this way of living unique? Surely a happy childhood can be achieved everywhere? Yes, for sure, but these are things my kids experience every day:
1. The Main Street.
When you live in a small town, you get to experience the Main Street phenomenom. We can’t walk down the street without stopping to chat to at least 5 people. I can’t even sit down at the hairdresser without seeing someone I know, and hearing ALL the goss on what’s happening in town. My three little ones are learning to naturally trust and feel safe in society. I can see them viewing the world as a safe place, full of opportunity and new friends. Plus there is nothing like that mad dash to the shops at 11:30am on a Saturday before they shut. Yep, in the country, there are limits on how much you can consume, and what options you have. Healthy in my opinion!
2. It’s easy to get close to nature.
I often block out a morning to just slow down and play with my youngest two after school drop off. We headed to the nearby lake with a butterfly net, and I showed my daughter how to catch little fish, while trying not to let the baby get too muddy. The simple act of slipping off my flats and walking on the grass slowed my breathing, let me connect with the kids and experience the ‘nature effect’. We didn’t need to leave anywhere and go for a day trip to do this, living in the country means living in nature. I often ride my bike with my eldest to a nearby forest and explore, becoming little botanists for an afternoon, and bringing home treasures to show his Dad.
3. Skills are handed down.
This really is the whole point of Shop My Town. We don’t have mega business run by offshore companies, and manned by teens without knowledge. We have the local butcher, baker and boutique. You can walk in and talk to the owner, and receive advice and service that’s built on years and years of experience. When these businesses employ our youth, they build up the skills of the next generation. And when we lose these shops, there is a huge hole in society, that has long term consequences for the whole community.
4. Community Spirit is a living force.
Until you go through the worst of tragedies, you don’t know how strong a small town’s spirit is. Gathering on the sidewalk after our pub burnt down in Gatton, the feeling of being a local and having a community to connect to was overwhelming. Life is pretty tough, and I’ve found the smaller the community, the tighter people have to connect. It’s not possible to thrive in tough conditions when you do it alone. Country kids see love in action, as they also see immense hardship and difficulty, great lessons for a solid start in life.
5. Life scaled down.
Schools are smaller, mortgages lower, and yes, there are less options. It’s part of the package in small town life. I remember my mother in law talking about her move from Sydney to the Lockyer Valley “You get used to the simple, slower way of life, and you have to take the good with the bad”. Country kids grow up used to some limitations. Yep, the local shoe shop only stocks one in every size, and you have to wait a bit longer for a cup of coffee, and sometimes, you just can’t get what you need. I like to live within that, and learn to be happy with what’s on offer in my town. There’s a whole world online, I know that, but something magic exists in enjoying what’s on offer in my town. And half the time – if you ask, they can get it in for you!