Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simplicity Parenting

A few months ago, I read the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and attended  a book group/discussion on it.  Since then, the ideas of that concept have been mulling around in my mind. Some of the thoughts below come for the book and some  of them are my own commentary on the concept...that is near and dear to my heart.  I have much to still do in my journey to strive to be more like this in some ways, but in others, I have done this intuitively, perhaps the outcome of some of my experiences of being parented..the best of it.

The basic premise of the philosophy is to steer towards a lifestyle that is to minimize  the over stimulation of our culture in our homes and lives for our children..such as by having just a few precious toys/ ones that they LOVE, ones that are appropriate for their ages and development, ones that are open-ended so that they can become anything, rather than already defined into characters of a movie, or who already talk or stimulate..let the kids bring the the stimulation into them, breathe their imaginations into them, rather than having it done for them.  Limit the choices..Too many choices also, creates stress..even having fewer books out. Let them read the same favorites over and over again so that those stories "mean something to them" rather than having an abundance of so so stories/books  that  can easily be dismissed.  Have a few things in our homes that we LOVE rather than having tons of things that we feel burdened by..reminders of what we don't have time to get to, take care of.  Have  only what we have time to take care of..

Also, let  kids be children for awhile..Minimize the media, news.  They do not have to be burdened by all the fear mongering in the media.  Children need filters so they can be allowed to be children and grow..

Establish rhythms in the home...traditions such as reading every night, or planting gardens in the spring.  Eating meals together when possible. Simplify meals to having a predictable menu each week. 
Simplify activities/structured time. Children need some open-ended time to create their own ideas/play/imagine..If they are always scheduled, they will not know how to deal with boredom or will not know how to create their own "story"..discover for themselves who they are, what they like...
More is not always better..We tend to over parent, and sometimes it is better for them to give them the space to find their own way. We do them a disservice by doing too much for them..plug them into so many activities, into media, television.  We feel a need to give them every benefit so they can be competitive in the world..stand out, be special..but truly, what they need the most is some space to grow and be allowed to discover for themselves. 

We are afraid of the open space that is not filled up with stuff  and noise..  thinking we need to turn on the tv so our children do not experience the pain of boredom..but truly in that painful half hour of boredom, they will find their way if given the chance. 

We think that we need to spend a lot of money on birthday parties, but sometimes the best birthday experiences are those that are quieter and spend with a couple close friends.  We have this idea of being a virtuous parent, that it means we enroll our child in every activity, dress them in name brand clothing(maybe), attend every birthday party, give them the best of what we didn't have, pay attention all the time, savor every moment, have a spotless home, go to every playdate, etc, but really we can relax a little..because what they may need is actually much simpler than that..  what is good for them does not have to cost so much money or involve our every waking hour..We do not need to watch them every moment, or attend to  their every need..Let them figure some of it out for themselves.  It  is okay, to let them be sometimes..  Let them feel some discomfort..Let them figure out how to get that glass of water on their own, solve that problem without our help.  We are not being lazy, we are letting them grow. 

Of course, there is the other extreme, not helping at all, not doing anything, not doing any activities(being uninvolved)...and I do not advocate that either..Everything in moderation..My children have waves of activity..They are learning violin and my son attends Cub Scouts.  I think it is ok to have busy waves so long as there are also waves of quiet and down-time.  The trick can be to recognize when to slow down, and when to be actively involved or out in the community..There is a chapter on Soul Fever..just like a physical fever needs to be treated with rest and TLC, so does a soul fever..when something is going on emotionally with a child (or parent)..when something is not quite right..sometimes it is time to find the medicine for it. 

Simplicity Parenting is not about stopping everything,giving up everything, but it is about moderating the effects of an culture that has too few filters for our youth, too many choices, too much stimulation, too much abundance..and in its place is space..space to "be"  and discover and relate, and have only what we LOVE in our homes, and less of what we feel burdened by.  more of time..to be together, and create..and think, and be outside, and look at the sky..We will still be "filled up"  but with a much more rewarding elixir.. 

What do you think??

Simplicity Parenting in Amazon


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