Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simplicity Parenting

A few months ago I picked up a book at our local library, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. I found it thoughtful and refreshing. Kim John Payne, a Waldorf educator, writes of the "too much, too fast, too soon" attitude towards childhood. And as parenting becomes more of a competitive sport, we begin to view childhood as an ongoing enrichment opportunity, not an unfolding experience. He speaks throughout the book about the concept of less. Less toys, less stress, even less books (gasp!) and a general decluttering of our children's lives and spaces.

"Balance is what we’re after for in simplifying our family’s schedules. And once we cross our kid’s names off the “Race of Childhood” sign-up form, time opens right up. Time for rest and activity; time for contemplation and stimulation, moments of calm in busy days, energies conserved and expended; time for free, unscheduled play, for ordinary days, for interests that deepen over time; time for boredom; and time for the joy and infinite passion of anticipation."

This book has made me take second look at my children's surroundings and schedules. Are they overwhelmed with stuff? Do the toys they have invite creative play or are they fixed in what they can do? Is fun an idol in our home? Are my children experiencing the surprising benefits of occasional boredom? Do they know the thrill of anticipation? Am I guarding them enough against the too much, too fast, too soon in this overachieving society that tells me the more activities a child has early on the more opportunities for success? And how do I show them the value of open time in our lives in a place that translates busyness as importance even among children?

Following along those same thought lines, lately on my bedside table sits The Hurried Child by David Elkind. Much to think about...


  1. I totally resonate with all that! I so want that simplicity on our home, but am not sure how to attain it- I'm not very good at the back stroke!

  2. well said. 'is fun an idol?' I believe it is in our culture at large. and our kids reap the repercussions of that belief.
    I like the unfolding instead of a sign-up sheet.

  3. Jennifer,

    Sounds like you found yourself some great books. So many great things to ponder. Moving from Orlando to Whitefish MT where things move slower and the beauty of the mountains is all around you has been refreshing, but a transition for me for sure. Working in a fast paced recreation setting was super busy and now I am out in MT just soaking in this beauty and my days are not nearly as harried. By the way - I love your blog.


  4. We are thinking about the same things in our home esp. as it relates to finding a new home. My heart desires to move farther out from the 'burbs, but then my mind (and friends) remind me that we wouldn't have easy access to as many activities, co-op, etc. Which do I want more for my children and our family? Which is more important? Why am I holding on to certain things/ideas (physically and emotionally) instead of simplifying? Hmmm...

    BTW...LOVING BFB Early American History. Tried it on your glowing recommendation!!! Thanks!

  5. Sounds like a great book. I've read just about everything Elkind has written and have appreciated the reminders to slow down and resist the parental peer-pressure out there. It has been nice to preserve a childhood for my children.



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