Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review: Simplicity Parenting

I've just returned from a 5-day hiatus to the beach. The kids and I cleared out so that dh could finish (with help!) some big--and not-so-big, but messy!--household projects. While I try to ignore the smell of paint in the air, I'd like to share a bit about a book I read this week...all while living an extremely simple (cold, rainy) beach life.

The subtitle of Simplicity Parenting immediate grabbed my attention: "Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids." I'm all for CALMER. HAPPIER. MORE SECURE. And, while I would have loved to have had the information with my first few stints in parenting (my kids range in age from 5 to almost 21!), this book is especially helpful for my youngest two children who have had more than their share of stress in their young lives. (The book really resonates with recommendations that Patty Cogen gives in her book, Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child.)

Because of our Mennonite heritage, we do live a relatively simple life; I was happily surprised to note how many of the suggestions are already part of our daily lives. So here are some of the things we do, some things we hope to implement, and some of the excerpts that wowed me. (The book contains much, much more!)

Some WOW moments:

*they studied kids with ADD, devising a simplification regime "with a particular emphasis on simplifying environment (including dietary changes), screen media and schedules." Result? "68 percent of the children whose parents and teachers adhered to the protocol went from clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional in four months." Wow.
*I love this..."Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?"

Currently part of our lives:

*we don't do a lot of outside activities with our youngest kiddos, ages 5 & 8. Currently, they have no outside sports, clubs, music lessons, etc.
*when our kids are overwhelmed, we try to slow life down and pull them closer.
*we try to only keep toys around that we really use. I rotate toys from storage areas rather than having everything out and available at once.
*predictability--we have a pretty regular schedule. Occasionally it gets high-jacked by the older kids' busy lives, but generally it's smooth for the little guys.
*we eat nourishing, homecooked, seasonal meals together as a family. Very little processed stuff. Virtually no eating out. (Except for date nights, which the little guys don't go on!)
*my little boys have lots of "unscheduled free time" each day to "daydream and play." That's one of the best things about homeschooling.

Wish List:

*despite rotating toys, we still have too many around than we really don't need. And I won't even TOUCH the book issue. It's definitely time to purge the shelves of outgrown or little read books. (Hello. My name is ____. I am a bookaholic.)
*I desperately need to decrease the amount of clothing accessible to my youngest two. The number of choices they have is overwhelming, overstimulating, and a source of constant stress for me and them. My problem actually stems from my Mennonite heritage. Most of what we have has been gifted to us. So getting rid of it means that I might later have to spend money. (What if I NEED a red t-shirt one time this year? What if the white button-down gets a stain? I might need that second--or third, or fourth--shirt.) Or something may end up in the landfill because no one will take away stained, holey clothing even for free at a garage sale. (I know. I'm pathetic.)
*An entire chapter is dedicated to "filtering out the adult world." It's something I need to work on. While I avoid having the news on when my little guys are in the room, they definitely overhear news as well as adult or bigger-kid conversations about things that they could find stressful.
*I have a new resolve to keep the television off during daytime hours. At night, they go to bed before evening shows are turned on. While my little guys watch very little television, zero would be best.

I loved this book and highly recommend reading it. Whether you already "simplicity parent" or not. :)


  1. I think not eating out is the biggest challenge for us as we love to eat out and don't enjoy cooking very much. But we'll have to work on that.

    I've been decluttering and I feel lighter. But I know there's more we can do in that department too. Good news is that more I declutter, it becomes easier to let go. Now, I ask myself, "Have I used it within the last year?" If not, it's taking up valuable space and needs to be thrown out.

  2. Thanks for sharing this.
    By the way, I'm also a bookaholic and I also keep all the clothes we get in case we might need a red t-shirt for the end of term music exhibition....

    I even have another problem. When I get some of the things finally out of the house, like books or toys or any other stuff, I suddenly get the feeling that: oh, I have space now for this and that sooooo interesting special offer!!!!
    So in the end I just fill up the empty space again LOL! So now I have started wondering if it isn't better just to keep things so that when I see something interesting I just think: anyway, I don't have the space for it. So I don't buy it!

    I'm not sure now which is the best to do LOL. But, you are not alone!!!

  3. Lovely thoughts. I'll keep that book in mind.

    When my son was younger, I didn't have any storage place to keep toys out of sight. And now he wants access to all of his toys. He's wanting a loft bed, and I'm hoping I can convince him to get rid of some stuff so there's space in his room for it.

    I wish we had less screen time at our house, but I'm online (working, but he sees it's fun work) so much, I can't bring myself to ban it for him. We have no TV and no game systems, but he watches cartoons online and plays video games online.

    Books are my biggest downfall too. ;^)

  4. This book looks great...because you know how much I need to collect more books...right? Great to talk yesterday. Working on the "ways to hang things on the wall post" :)


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