Let’s Read: “Simplicity Parenting”

 

“I worry that we’ll increasingly understand the “purpose” of childhood by seeing, increasingly, what people are like when they’ve been rushed through theirs.  And I don’t think that will be a pretty picture.” – From Simplicity Parenting

 

I totally agree.  It is hard and challenging work to keep our children at a normal pace of development in this day and age.  But it is important, and necessary work.  The work you are doing will help your child grow up to be a well-adjusted, resilient adult.  The goal of parenting is to lead toward a healthy, whole human being.

To this point, Kim John Payne recommends simplification.  He talks about doing a home visit with families and poises the question, “Imagine just such an average day for your family, and what it might look like to an observer.  What are the difficulties that might arise?  What periods of the day are consistently stressful?”

“We didn’t think it would be like this” is a phrase Kim John Payne heard over and over from parents.  Sometimes what we remember most is from our teenaged years, and we expect challenges during those years.  What we often are surprised by is the challenges of raising small children, and children that are in the grades.   Kim John Payne asks people, “What do you need to move forward, in a way that reclaims your hopes and dreams for your family?”

The four levels of simplification outlined here include environment, rhythm, schedules and filtering out the adult world.  Kim John Payne recommends starting with the environment because that seems doable for many people.  He relates the story of “Marie”, a little five-year-old whose room was significantly pared down to include a small mix of dolls, building toys, cherished toys, etc plus some fabric and ropes and clothespins, a child sized table with art supplies and some dress up clothes in a basket.

 

Very simple changes can lead toward other changes in a family’s emotional life.

Please share your experiences with paring down, and how that affected your family life.  I would love to hear from you!

Blessings and peace,

Carrie

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14 thoughts on “Let’s Read: “Simplicity Parenting”

  1. After reading this book, we decided to pare down. Luckily, we didn’t have a lot of toys already, as our only child at the time was only a year. Sometimes I think the hardest thing is to keep it down. We’re trying by only getting one or two toys per child per birthday/Christmas. We’ve also stopped getting presents for every single little holiday that comes along. We celebrate them, but that doesn’t mean we all need presents. Even doing this, stuff accumulates and we need to do another purge to get rid of the extra.

  2. The second time I read the book, I put a bunch of my son’s books in the garage and then I change them out. This has worked well. I also have significantly cut back on outside activities. He is 9 now and it is getting increasingly more difficult as most of his same age friends are accumulating music, dance, art, and sports activities. It has become more of a competition between parents than among the kids. Now to attack the toys. I was thinking of gathering all of them and putting them in a big pile in the spare room, then eliminate. Should he participate or would it be better to do it by myself?

    • Mary Lynn,
      I think that so depends upon the temperament of the child. My almost thirteen year old really likes me to do it. My almost ten year old can go either way – I have done it with her and without her. So, think temperament!
      Blessings,
      Carrie

    • Thanks, Carrie. Mine will have a tough time, i think, as he tends to melancholic like me. He has daycamp next week. Now i know what my project will be!!!

  3. Carrie,
    ThankYou for introducing me to such a wonderful book. I’m reading at my own pace but look forward to your comments always!
    One of the key challenges I see is a different style of parenting each of the two parents want to follow (mostly coming from each’s own upbringing) and the conflict that comes in..
    Which simplification level would that fall under and what change can one bring in?
    Thx, Minal (m/o 2 very gentle boys – 7 yrs n 7 months)

    • Minal,
      I think part of building your own family culture, though, is to take the backgrounds of both of you and forge a new family culture. This takes work and dialogue. Sometimes writing a family mission statement can help – check the back posts on here by using that term in the search engine box and also check the posts under adult development (if you click the development header in the bar at the top).
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  4. We’ve cut back and simplified before but somehow its all become cluttered again – especially with the accumulation of treasures over the years, moving house to a smaller house with less bedrooms and closet space etc. I just went away for the weekend to my sisters in another town. She is brilliant at decluttering. Her house was so comfortable, with space, and little collections of artfully placed decorations. When I came home, my own clutter and mess was very clear to me. Unbearable really. Its tiring just to look at it. I think my children also have a positive response to space and clarity. When their rooms are tidy every thing runs more smoothly. I just cleaned out the garage to see if I can put away a few ‘treasures’ and create our own toy library, as Kim suggests.

  5. I am in the process of paring down toys and can already see a huge difference in how the children play- and best of all, they love to help tidy up now, as everything has a place! I think my biggest challenge is in wanting to offer every type of experience to my kids, therefore every type of (beautiful, Waldorf) toy – as a Waldorf family ok so we dont have many closed ended toys, and they are all beatiful, natural and open ended: but they are still too many!! I think that’s an important point I’m just beginning to fully appreciate. Even beautiful, thoughtful toys can be too many in number.

  6. I am in the process of paring down toys and can already see a huge difference in how the children play- and best of all, they love to help tidy up now, as everything has a place! I think my biggest challenge is in wanting to offer every type of experience to my kids, therefore every type of (beautiful, Waldorf) toy – as a Waldorf family ok so we dont have many closed ended toys, and they are all beatiful, natural and open ended: but they are still too many!! I think that’s an important point I’m just beginning to fully appreciate. Even beautiful, thoughtful toys can be too many in number.

  7. There a few books that have changed my parenting and this was one of them. We simplified toys, books, our environment and even follow a weekly dinner schedule. It made writing shopping lists so much simpler. I feel better about not putting my toddler into organised sports or classes already and I bought some baskets and put toys out for my kids to see instead of all in one big box where the bottom toys got forgotten anyway. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and it means we can keep it simply instead of loads of new toys. We’re more picky in the toys and books we get now and if their even needed. My daughter has some art material she can always get to and I keep the really messy stuff away for when I can do it with her or at least devote my time to her in the same room. The chapter on keeping the adult world away from them like conversations or the news I think is so important. I loved this book.

  8. i read that book long before i knew it was a “waldorf” book or that i would find myself so interested in waldorf homeschooling! i loved it and read it again just a few months later! we live in a small house (maybe ~900 sq ft of living space for four of us?), and i work hard to keep our things to a minimum because it can get very overwhelming very quickly in here! i am grateful for having a small space actually, for this very reason.

    i thought i had things simple, and then i read another book that pushed me to look at things even harder (including my own belongings). i highly recommend “clear your clutter with feng shui.” she talks a lot about the energetics of the things in our spaces and how “clutter” steals a ton of our energy. clutter being things like: things that need to be put away, things that are not actually used, unfinished projects, etc. she also talks about how holding onto things we’re not using suggests that we don’t trust the universe to provide when we need it. i really loved that book. i’ve seen it transform many of my friends from semi-hoarders to declutter fanatics. and the results in their spaces are so profound! room to breathe! and live!

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