Simplicity Parenting


These two have a special bond. They don’t always get along perfectly, but for the most part, they play well together and love being in the others’ company. I hope they are always close.

If you have talked to me fairly recently, there is a good chance that I have brought up the book “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. This is the thing about parenting books…. I usually like them because they validate at least some of what I am doing or feel intuitively as a parent, or I hate them because they are telling me that I am doing everything wrong. I am pretty good at taking the info that I think is beneficial and leaving the rest and not getting worked up, even if I don’t agree, but this parenting book was different than the others. I loved it because it did validate some parts of my parenting. Parts of my parenting that seemed insignificant, but the author talks abou their importance. I also loved the book, because it challenged the way I (we all) do things or don’t do things but…. instead of finishing the book feeling incompetent and like I am failing, I felt thankful for some new information and ideas that I can start implementing in our own family. I really hope that you will all go and read this book. It made me reevaluate what is important to our family and the importance of letting my kids have the childhood that they deserve.  Here are a few of my random thoughts about the book and actions I have taken since reading the book:

*The book focuses a lot on getting rid of stuff. Kids have so much stuff, and I have been working to get rid a bunch of stuff in ou house. I still have a ways to go, but with the help of my friend Audra, I have already gotten rid of a big chunk of my wardrobe, and I have been getting rid of kid stuff as well. The book goes into more detail about what kinds of things to consider getting rid of. Books are the hardest thing for me to get rid of. I love children’s literature so much, and although I didn’t get rid of as many books as the author recommended, I put probably 1/3 of our books in the garage so that they can be rotated.

*This book has made me think even more about technology in our home. Exceptions were made over spring break, and we will be less strict on the weekend, but the new rule in our house is that the kids get no shows or computer time during the school week. I am sure that there will be occasional exceptions, but during the last few school weeks, we were pretty consistent. Gabe’s tantrums have gone down dramatically  already.

*The importance of routines and rhythm were explained in the book. It is important that children feel consistency and safety in their lives, and one way to help with that is through routines and rhythm.

*I hear more and more about the slow parenting movement, but this book was a good reminder that my kids do not need to be involved in too much, and that is important at their ages that they have plenty of time to play. Payne talks about the concept of mapping your weeks out with “A” active days and “C” calm days. If you know that you are going to have a couple of crazy “A” days in the week, it is important to immediately schedule 1 or 2 “C” calm days with no playdates, no serious commitments so that your child can regroup. I love this concept , and it has made me think about how I plan my week.

*Payne talks about how boredom is one of the best gifts that we can give our children. Often when kids whine that they are bored, if you just push through and force them to be bored a little longer, that is when some of their most brilliant creativity comes out. I have seen this in my own kids, and I loved the reminder that I am not here to constantly entertain my kids and that I am doing them a service by letting them think of ways to play on their own.

*I love love the concept of “soul fever” in the book. When a child has a fever, we drop everything from our routines (when at all possible) to make sure that they can rest, drink lots of water, take cool baths, naps etc…. whatever they need to feel better. Payne suggests that we do the same thing when a kid has a “soul fever.” When a child is overwhelmed, stressed, and/or acting out ,it is time for a regrouping. Often times when our kids are driving us crazy with their behavior, that is when they need us more than ever to hold them close and give the time and calmness that they need to reenergize.

I know that this all doesn’t sound like totally new information for most of us, but it was just good for me to rethink and be more thoughtful about how I parent. I am a slow learner sometimes, so making little steps is important for me.  Have I made leaps and bounds in the right direction? No, but I am trying to improve, and hopefully that will count for something. Have any of you read this book? What do you think about the whole idea of simplicity parenting?

adrienne w - April 2, 2012 - 9:29 am

Oooooh, sounds good. I agree that it makes me feel good about some of the things I’m doing that I feel outside pressure about. Like scheduling things. My kids are not in any extra-curricular activities at this point. That is for financial reasons, but in the future, we plan to keep it to a minimum. Something like one physical activity/sport and one music lesson. Even that will make things hectic, I’m sure. I will have to check this book out!

kara - April 2, 2012 - 7:36 pm

Oh Adrienne,
I always love your comments. I think you are one of the few readers left of my blog since I am MIA from facebook, and I love our little blog conversations. Thanks for you support and effort to keep in touch, and let me know what you think about the book!!

Shawnde - April 2, 2012 - 9:46 pm

I completely agree about this book. I took the class with Alice & Jessica last Fall and watched our family calm down in the process. I remember one afternoon of coming home and pulling apart Eddie’s room, removing half the toys and organizing what was left. The change in him was dramatic and instant. But we can’t seem to sustain it! It seems like a constant battle to stay simple!
I highly recommend the local class as well as the book.
Thanks for posting about this, Kara!

Adrienne W - April 3, 2012 - 10:16 pm

I have a follow up question: How do you keep the kids occupied when they want to play computer or watch TV? I use technology time to get things done, but sometimes it’s too much. So what do you do to help engage the kids in something? That sounds bad, but obviously with 4 kids I’m often looking for ways to keep them occupied. Any suggestions?

Rachel - April 5, 2012 - 10:41 pm

I’m still here! Keep posting! I’ve been feeling pressure (that I put on myself) when I see friends who have their kids involved in lessons, classes, and activities. Seamus doesn’t do much. But, I need to remind myself that I didn’t do anything as a preschooler except be a preschooler. In fact, I didn’t even go to preschool. I turned out okay. I’m sure he will, too. I do have to disagree about books, though. I don’t think kids can ever have too many books. It’s the only thing that I buy without guilt.

Kara - April 6, 2012 - 9:18 pm

The nice thing now is that they have stopped asking (just in the last week). They have a Movie night on Friday, so they will talk during the week about which movie they want to watch, but I can’t believe that they are hardly asking at all anymore. A few more thoughts:
*You live in a much colder climate, and that makes things trickier. It is mild enough here that we can get outside pretty often during the winter. You are probably in need of more things to do indoors with your kiddos.
*LIke I said before, the longer my kids go without tv, the more creative they get together.
*This is random, but one thing that made making the decrease easier is that I have a crazy one year old who has to be watched anyways and wouldn’t watch tv even if I showed it to her. I figure if the most time consuming child doesn’t get tv, then it doesn’t really help that much if the other kids are watching tv when I am trying to get stuff done.
I hear that you are having a baby soon!! You are totally fine without Seamus in a bunch of activities. He is too busy counting with his mama at home :)
In regards to book Rachel, I was and partially am totally with you. I love children’ books. I have a ridiculous amount. The only difference now is that I have a lot of them in my garage. I mentioned that I still have way more in my house than the author would approve of :), but I scaled back as much as far as I could go. The cool thing now is that my kids can take an inside book and trade it for a garage book. They love going to the garage to pick out a new book. The idea behind not having as many books inside is that kids will actually focus on and enjoy the books that they do have more if they don’t have too many choices. When I was going through books with my kids to decide which ones to put in the garage, they said things like “Oh, here’s that book, we haven’t seen that book in a long time. I love it. Mommy, will you read it.” We have so many books, that they couldn’t even find their favorites, because there were too many.
Keep me up to date with baby news Rachel!!