Thursday, September 16, 2010
I feel like I'm the last person in my (blog) circle to read this book! But I'm glad I finally did, because while I thought we had a pretty simple lifestyle and attitude regarding childrearing, I got a fresh perspective on several issues that had never even occurred to me. Additionally, some principles we know intuitively, but may have neglected to consider consciously. Sometimes, too, we just need a kick in the pants to take action and make some things happen in our own households. Simplicity Parenting gave me something at each level.
In a nutshell, Simplicity Parenting is about why and how we should de-toxify the atmosphere in which our children grow and develop. Frankly, I was expecting some warmed-over version of decluttering advice I'd heard before. But for someone who picked up the book with an attitude of "I already know this", it was a nice surprise to be challenged to think in terms of much more than clearing out the toybox.
Many parents may already sense that kids are overwhelmed with "stuff" and over-scheduled with too many activities for healthy development. These ideas aren't really new, but the way Simplicity Parenting addresses the causes and effects is uniquely compelling. The author's section on environment focuses on physical surroundings, with wonderful tips for reducing not only toys, but clothes. books and other good things that are simply lost in the shuffle. The chapter on scheduling offers anecdotes from real families who creatively tailored a balance of outside or family activities to nurture, instead of drain, their childrens' reserves.
The most eye-opening, thought-provoking chapters for me touch on the need for rhythm and filtering the adult world. Many parents may not think of ways they might reduce the choices children need to make, or the conversations dealing with adult topics which might be overheard. We are wise to ponder what media input our kids are experiencing, even indirectly, or how much predictable, comfortable routine they can depend on. So many small things go into the overload of today's childhood, resulting in needless anxiety and its associated disorders. The key for parents is making conscious decisions on these issues for the good of our children, with an eye toward life-long security and confidence. Giving them the tools to create this balance for themselves as they mature is icing on the cake.
If I thought I had nothing to learn from this book, since we don't have many outside commitments or a typically stressful two-income household, I was wrong! Every paragraph was loaded with food for thought. There are many areas of family life which I had not consciously considered before, and it was a blessing to have them brought to my attention. Kim John Payne writes in an extremely inoffensive, refreshing style. No matter how far I might be from the ideals offered in his pages, I didn't feel guilty - just inspired to work harder to make some changes. So many of his methods allow for "baby steps" that anyone might implement in family life. He stresses the importance of adjusting for the particular circumstances of the individual family, noting that even small changes are a step towards more peace in our children's lives. As a slightly unorthodox family in terms of schedules and habits, it was nice to be offered such flexibility, and not to be pigeon-holed into a one-size-fits-all solution.
It's my belief that any family will find Simplicity Parenting thought-provoking and genuinely refreshing. I'm so glad I finally took the time to request it from the library and see what all the buzz was about. It was definitely worth my time!