(This is one of the parenting books recommending by a reader and friend after my last spell of parenting book reviews. Also, we’re working on finding a place to live up here in New England, so blog posts may be sporadic in the next month, just to forewarn you.)
Simplicity Parenting:Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne, M. Ed.
Summary: Payne is a child psychologist with experience working with children in war-torn countries and noticed symptoms similar to that of PTSD in kids from well-to-do areas of England (commonly diagnosed as ADD and other disorders). He concluded that the lack of simplicity in their lives was stressing them out, and went about helping parents to simplify the child’s life in four areas which he says resulted in noticeable improvement.
The four areas he addresses are “Environment,” “Rhythms,” “Schedules,” and “Filtering Out the Adult world.”
Simplifying the environment involved paring down toys, books, and clothes to the more basic, and keeping scents and lighting as natural as possible.
Establishing rhythm in your day gave the child more predictability, potentially connection with you, and “pressure valves” throughout the day. He especially liked family mealtimes and bedtime stories.
Simplifying schedules meant not overscheduling, but making sure kids have plenty of free time to come up with their own activities and learn creativity. Payne also appreciated the idea of a day or even moments of Sabbath–quiet, restful family time.
Filtering out the adult world involved keeping the television and internet off limits for kids under seven. [Interestingly, this was also what another secular psychologist recommended in a different book I read.] It involves limiting what you say around your kids to that that is “true, kind, and necessary,” and not discussing adult concerns (including crime, environmental concerns [he had one example of a kid stressed about global warming], or workplace negatives).
Pros: I felt like this book echoed a lot of Biblical principles that secular psychology had found to work–go figure. (E.g. Being content with what you have [Phil 4:11], Sabbath rest, thinking on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely…[Phil 4:8]) I also could see how simplifying in the way the book suggested made the parents’ lives more restful (as opposed to adding things to do), and the principles espoused help toward my goal of being strategic with money, because you basically are cutting down on things that require spending lots of money.
Cons: I didn’t agree with this guy’s idea that kids shouldn’t be “racing through ‘Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series'” because well, I was one of those kids who really liked to read books, including series books, and I still don’t see anything wrong with it. I also was not going to do his suggestion to have a specific type of dinner for each day of the week, such as Soup Sunday. Not my thing.
Overall: I really liked this book. I felt it described the way I want my home to feel–A place of peace rather than hectic stress. TSH and I generally have sought to simplify in the first three areas already, but the place we felt like we needed more work was “filtering out the adult world.” not just from our kid’s life, but from ours as well, haha :).