Lessons in Simple Parenting

Simple parenting tips to simplify you and your child's life.

For the last few years (ok, more like six), I’ve been trying to read and finish the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross. It’s about simplifying you and your child’s life for the better. Every time I’ve tried to read it something happens where I stop and am not able to pick it up again, so I’m excited to say that I was finally able to finish it.

Spoiler alert! I’m sharing the best lessons in simple parenting that I learned from this book. That means that if you don’t want to read anything that might be in the book, don’t read on until you have read it yourself. Though I do not include all of the information from the book so if you’re on the fence, read on.

As you simplify life the laws of the universe will become simpler. - Henry David Thoreau | Simple parenting tips to simplify you and your child's life.

Lessons in Simple Parenting:

1. Time is life’s most valuable currency.
It’s said time and time again, and I’ve heard it a million times, that time is the most valuable thing you control. It is the most valuable way you can show love. You devote your time to what you love, so choose wisely. I have to admit that I’m very guilty of getting flustered on the nth bedtime story, but those extra few minutes I can devote to my children will mean little to me and the world to them.

2. Do as I do, lead by example.
Often times children will model our behavior. As parents it is our job to set the example for how we expect our children to behave. In a home full of anxiety and fear, children will become nervous and uneasy. A great quote (cited in book) from Ellen Goodman reads, “The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.” and I completely agree. Our children learn and grow by spreading their wings, and if they aren’t allowed to do that, what kind of progress will they make?

“Time in nature calms and focuses; for most children, it only takes a few minutes for them to begin to explore. Watch as they seek out places that feel particularly right to them, as they gather symbolic objects- leaves, sticks, bits of moss- that they discover.”
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

3. Look for a “Soul Fever”.
When children have a physical fever, we are quick to modify their daily lives to bring them back to health. When a child is physically ok, but resists doing normal activities or seems very overwhelmed or not themselves they may have a soul fever. It is also a good idea to simplify their daily lives for a few quiet days to bring them back to themselves. Often times a weekend of quiet is enough to lower their stress level.

4. Simplify the toy mess.
Rarely do beloved toys actually do anything. The most loved toys tend to be ones that require the use of a child’s imagination. As Marie Kondo says, gifts are meant to be enjoyed by the giver receiving joy from the act of giving. If the toy doesn’t bring joy after it’s received, it’s job is done. Keep this in mind when digging through the mess and simplifying their environment.

“Rhythm builds islands of consistency and security throughout the day.”
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

5. Find their rhythm and set a schedule.
Building regular and expected moments of family connection, times of rest, and giving your children a mental picture of how the day should look. Give them plenty of unscheduled free time to daydream and play. Just because a child loves an activity doesn’t mean that it is enough to protect them from pursuing it too much or too soon. With this free time they will learn to appreciate the ordinary and develop a genuine love for an interest over time.

“This is the lesson they take with them: A small period of downtime is a form of care, a way of being cared for. It’s true you may be the one doing the caring now, and insisting on limitations that they may resist, but you are also beginning a pattern that they can continue for themselves and will serve them throughout their lives.”
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

6. Filter out the adult world.
There are many studies and reasons to limit a child’s screen time, one of which being to protect them from the adult world. There is a reason that the news comes on late at night after children are asleep, it is meant for adults. The issues they talk about are adult issues and should be shared with children in a very protected way, if at all. Children are not meant to carry the burden of an adult society. We very much limit our children’s access to adult information and share it with them in a very ‘need to know’ sort of way. We discuss big issues with our older son in a very lighthearted and non-worrying way, though it is hard to filter information that comes from school and his friends there. We try to avoid talking about adult or work issues at the dinner table and try to share positive information from each other asking the question, “What was your favorite part of today?”.

Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge in Fremont, California

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Do you do anything special to help simplify you or your children’s lives? What do you find works best?

2 thoughts on “Lessons in Simple Parenting

  1. This sounds like such a great read. I definitely agree that time is the most important thing we can give to our children. It’s amazing how my daughter lights up when she gets uninterrupted one-on-one time!

    Fizz and Frosting

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