Aiming to raise conscious humans who appreciate the value of nature, this outstanding couple are teaching their children about environmental issues from a very young age. They are not typical consumers and they found true happiness in minimalism.
The social media has become a prominent part of our daily lives. We follow people we don’t know and probably have never met in real life. The temptation to scroll down and get a glimpse of what other people are posting can be literally addictive. I personally see numerous pictures daily and I end up forgetting most of them. But one couple’s story was beyond inspiring for me. With a lifestyle that just doesn’t seek to fit in, they are wild, unique and most importantly they are being unapologetically themselves. This is the ultimate role model you can be for your children. Join with me the world of Norshek Fawzy and Nabil Rostom. I have met with those social media superstars to hear more their approach to life.
How did the idea moving to live in Gouna emerge?
Norshek: Before living in Gouna, we tried to move to San Francisco and Los Angeles. We wanted to move away from Cairo. At first, we were not looking to be closer to nature but we were seeking a better quality of life … a better city. We stayed a while in San Francisco but we couldn’t stay longer. I gave birth to Taj there. We returned to Cairo with two kids, with an age gap of one year and a half, and I was working. It was very hard. Regardless of how much support I had, if I couldn’t do it myself I wouldn’t let someone else do it. I cannot be dependent on someone to fulfill my children’s constant needs. Getting to accomplish anything in Cairo took ages and being dependent couldn’t be part of my routine. Life in Cairo was very stressful. I get easily affected by the environment around me. This meant I was going to raise stressed kids. Therefore, the decision to move to Gouna came instantly. Me and Nabil we work together and our work is very mobile. Meanwhile he always had a dream of building a place by the beach. He is an engineer. So he started digging around and got investors and they founded a company. They got a land in Sahl Hasheesh and they are building it now, he is the project manager.
Wow …Very interesting
Norshek: This was the financial exit of us being able to come.
Many of your posts show how you both share responsibilities together. Tell us more about it.
Norshek: We have been like that since the start of our marriage. We started our work together so we shared financial responsibilities, work responsibilities and consequently responsibilities at home. If you are both fair people, you have to divide all responsibilities. We cannot be both working and then the kids would be my duty on my own. It was never a decision. It this is just our personalities.
Nabil: Its only natural. It is my duty to be equally involved in our children’s life. I am their father like she is their mother. Back in the days, men were responsible for providing money and women were responsible for the house and kids. Now luckily things are changing and women are finally experiencing more equality.
And how does this lifestyle affect the way you bond with your kids?
Norshek: You have the gift of time. You can do whatever you want to do. I drop off the children to nursery, go to the gym. I let them play in the sand for a while before going to nursery if they want to. I don’t believe in perfection, so if they are a little late for nursery, it’s ok. For me, education comes from experience, from creativity and character development way more than just learning ABC or 123. They will learn these things anyways because they are curious. Having plenty of time lets each of us bond with every member of the family. Quality time gets created on its own. It’s a daily habit. Choosing to do things together whenever possible.
I noticed from your posts that you have a tendency to create handmade stuff, which is not the typical consumer’s behavior we are used to. Making a costume yourself instead of just buying one, makes it much more worthy and unique.
Norshek: That’s what I learnt from my mother. Whenever she used to see something nice she’d say ‘ I can do it and will do it better’. So that’s how I was brought up. I usually use materials I already have at home. I did a Superman costume for Taj from T-shirts we already had. I also did Tala’s Christmas tiara from an old headband I had and used the lace from a T-shirt I had and some seashells I collected on the beach. I did a wind-chime at home as well and the kids collected the shells for it.
For one of your kids’ birthday you asked your guests not to bring plastic gifts. I couldn’t be more thrilled when I saw this post. Please tell me more about it.
Norshek: It’s been a year we have been teaching them why plastic is harmful for the environment. We want them to have awareness regarding environmental issues, so we keep reminding them that we shouldn’t waste water.
How to you explain these concepts to Taj who is still a toddler?
Norshek: I don’t always explain, I just keep stating the facts and it just sinks in. When they are ready they will start to ask questions. He knows that we shouldn’t keep the tap on for a long time. He believes that we will run out of water in the bathroom. He may not grasp that the magnitude of the issue but that’s the start. The same things goes with energy. They learnt to close the light of the room when they are leaving it. It is easier to develop the habit from an early age. Sometimes I forget but they don’t. We try to use every chance possible to encourage them to think of those issues. Last time we were one the beach and a beanbag was torn spreading around those little white foam balls. All the kids went crazy playing with them so we kept telling them that if those tiny balls go in the sea and a fish eats them it will die… if a bird eats the balls, they would get stuck in its throat. “Would you like this to happen to you?”, we asked them. They decided to stop playing with them. ‘So let’s think of a way to clean it up’, we suggested and that’s what they did. Plastic toys are not biodegradable, so we discuss what will happen to the fish when exposed to huge amounts of plastic. Unlike wooden toys that are biodegradable. Also we pinpoint how bacteria lives on the surface of plastic more than wood.
You expressed a very meaning concept when you painted on the wall of you house ‘ Enjoy what we have’, what inspired you to do that?
Nabil: At a certain point, I felt that I should let go of a lot of material things. I tried to minimize my consumption in a lot of aspects. I reduced the amount of food that I eat. I defined what are my ‘wants’ and what are my ‘needs’ then I started working on minimizing my wants. I felt much more satisfied. I realized that I dress for functionality, I don’t care about the brand that I am wearing. I realized how privileged I am and the abundance of materials that I have, so I decided to share what I have because I want everyone around me to be happy. This is how the concept of ‘enjoy what we have’ started.
This is an amazing sense of gratitude. How do you teach it to your children ?
Norshek: when it comes to gratitude, we have two ways of integrating this concept into our life. The first is ‘gratitude rocks’, there is this place near the lighthouse where we go and collect rocks and we keep them with us, and whenever we see it or touch it we state something we are grateful for. The kids now when they see beautiful rocks they collect them and call them gratitude rocks.
Nabil: One of the things we were keen on doing with the kids, was to associate happiness with gratitude.
Norshek: The second thing we do is that each night before their bedtime, each one of us states three things we are grateful for. It could be anything but the concept is important.
Nabil: We are also starting to set intentions for the day with Talia. You can start to do from age 5. We sometimes do a visual board with images of the things she wants to do. Intentions can include being loving and peaceful.
How do you help your children develop confidence and a positive self-image?
Nabil: It is important to learn that satisfaction comes from within. It’s too draining to see yourself through the eyes of others. I shouldn’t need to appeal to anyone.
Norshek: Sometimes people used to comment about Tala’s curls and some would say ‘why don’t you just brush her hair’. So we try to change the comment from negative to positive , we would say ‘This is how it naturally is and natural is beautiful’. Sometimes I can seem rude but I wouldn’t let other people bring my children down. Also whom the children look up to defines how they want to be.
Nabil: What I love most about Norshek’s parenting approach is that she always teaches our children that ‘Natural is healthy and healthy is beautiful’. If you keep doing this on a daily basis, they learn it. It’s all about consistency.
Norshek: How you speak about yourself affects their own self image. I would never say in front of the kids that I want to workout to lose weight. I will say that I workout to be healthy. We constantly pinpoint the importance of being ‘strong’ and ‘healthy’.