simplicity parenting

the other night I had the pleasure (and I’m not being facetious here) to listen to a talk by Kim John Payne about simplicity parenting.  It was an eye opening experience and has given me so much to think about.  You can order his CD here, and his book is coming out in about 6 months but here are a few of the highlights (courtesy of his web site with my notes in italic)


  • Too much stuff!  Sensory overwhelm in the lives of our families.  The undeclared war on childhood.
  • The ‘D’ Generation.  ADD, ODD, OCD and on it goes…  How simplifying helps ‘labeled’ children regain resiliency.



Step One:  Simplify your environment

This is FlyLady on steroids.  Get rid of your clutter and then get rid of everything that you don’t love and use, then get rid of 50% of the rest of the stuff you’ve got lying around the house.  Take all but five of the books out of your child’s room.  Swap in new ones now and then.  Same with toys, and get rid of all the plastic imitations of real things.  If Johnny wants a gardening set, go to the hardware store and get proper tools in sizes that he can handle.

Step Two:  Simplify food and mealtimes

Don’t let meal times become a time of stress for either the person making it or those eating it.  Schedule it, set a routine and stick to it.  If soccer or music conflcts, reschedule those activities.

Step Three:  Simplify your families schedule

He compared parenting to growing crops.  There are two ways to grow a crop (child).  You can plant it and then add super-phosphates, pour on extra manure, kill everything around it with herbicides and pesticides, control the environment, give it coaching, push it hard all season and genetically modify it.  But the best way to grow a successful crop (child) is to allow it time to lay fallow (do nothing), time for green fertilizer (creativity) and growth (lessons and planned activity).

Children need equal time to be creative (read, write, do imaginative play, draw, play or listen to music), to participate in activities (school, sports, lessons) and to do nothing.  And don’t underestimate the value of nothing. 

Step Four:  Simplify the amount of information and involvement about the adult world

The world can be scary and gloomy for adults, but try not to project this negativity to your children.  Talk about the bad stuff but talk about the good stuff too.  The "What can we do as a family about global warming?" discussion as opposed to the "We’re going to hell in a handbasket" tirade’

Step Five:  Simplify discipline

Visualization and the two by two approach to discipline.  First, visualize what you want the outcome of your discussion with your child to achieve.  Stand two feet in front of her with your two feet planted on the ground.  Look at them, make your request and focus on nothing else but them until they have followed through on your request.  For example, yelling at Johnny from across the house to put on his coat and shoes will likely yield, not much.  But if you stand in front of Johnny and ask him to put on his coat and shoes and stand watching/coaching him until he’s done the task will yield a less stressful and more successful outcome and save you time in the long run.

I can’t possibly capture all the goodness from this talk, he spoke for 2 1/2 hours and every minute was full of great information, anecdotes and caring.  Kim John travels and lectures alot so check his website, if you ever get a chance to hear him, it will give you alot to think about as a parent.

Comments 2

  1. jessica August 28, 2007

    Wow, thanks so much for sharing this! Today this information comes at a time when I\’m trying to simplify so many things. I\’ll have to find the CD now! 

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