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...