Posts Tagged ‘simplification’

This is one of the most important books I’ve read all year.  Maybe, say, five years.  A friend named LeeAnn tossed it at people at a homeschooling meeting I was not present during, and my friend we call “Rikki” picked it up, and then I swiped it.  I started reading it, but then a mutual friend going to TX for a long trip needed good reading material, so she took it.  She did, by golly, finish it, and gave it back, two days before I left for CA.  And I did not read it.  Not a word.  Why?  Because there were so many wonderful books to read in CA!  But when I got back, I finished it.  In fact, I just did two days ago.  I need, need, NEED to give it back to Rikki, so I have to post this right. now. 

Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross (no not that Lisa, but A Lisa), is a wonderful book about slowing down, and they made a serious case for how the frenetic nature of our present world is the root of so many societal ills, from kids on Ritalin at early ages to marital and parenting difficulties.  Quite honestly, I think they are seriously correct.  Like a frog in a pot of water, we didn’t notice it was boiling til it was causing us real harm.  Like the frog, it’s awfully hard to turn off the heat now that we’re here.  Authors like these can help us start in our homes to bring some sanity back to our lives.

Here are some main points:

What to simplify?  Four things: the environment, the rhythm, schedules and filtering out the adult world. 

Why?  Because our children will often have behavior difficulties related to too much, too fast.  Sometimes too much is a lot less than we’d expect.  Decluttering alone made statistical difference in a study he did, which showed that kids whose homes were simplified made as much progress in their behavior as kids who were on Ritalin.  One difference was that their academics improved, while the kids on just Ritalin stayed the same in that category.  Both groups of children had better behavior, but the simplification process was natural and it helped academics.  Amazing.  It is detailed on pages 27-29. 

Another section that spoke to me was sports.  They are not against sports, they are against too much and spoiling the balance in one’s life.  The quote is on pages 160-161:

Yet on the level of schedules — daily, weekly, monthly — many parents seem to have thrown up their hands, unable or unwilling to impose balance.  “She loves it!” or “He loves it!” are the rallying cries of overscheduling.  With kids and their enthusiasms we seem to feel that interest alone will protect them from the ill effects of too much, too soon, and too fast.  Yet with sports participation peaking at age eleven, clearly some interests are being sacrificed rather than developed by being fostered at too young an age and too heavily. 

 Quite Simply:  A child’s love of an activity is not enough to protect him or her from the effects of pursuing it too much, and too soon. 

What about for older children who want to monitor their own schedules and involvements?  Teens whose energy is more aligned with their interests?  Certainly parental pacing is less important as children reach adolescence.  … Tom was either playing soccer or thinking about it.  And he was quite talented, one of the star players in his traveling league.  At this point in his development, Tom didn’t really need  more free, unscheduled time.  He had a passion.  Joelle relayed this quote, imitating the sarcasm in her son’s voice:  “By the way, Mom… passions aren’t ‘balanced.'”

It turned out that by supporting him, but not indulging him, he had to work for his passion a little more, and that was ultimately better for him.  You’ll just have to read and see what they did.  🙂

Finally, and very possibly the most important chapter was the nearly last one:  Filtering Out the Adult World.  Two things:  one — if you say less, your words mean more.  No really.  I LOVE to talk, but it’s true, and I know it. 

Secondly:  What is said in your home has to pass three hurdles in order to be said out loud:  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  It is worthy noting that necessary doesn’t mean just from your point of view, but also the child’s.  In other words, something you don’t care about is still necessary if the child cares about it a whole bunch.  But nagging is not necessary.  Neither is gossip.  Gossip and sarcasm fail all three, sadly for me, because I enjoy sarcasm.    However, I read it out loud on Sunday to my family (pages 192-194) when we were having a rather unkind day, and it sure did help.  We are working on it as a family.  I’m supposed to make banners all over the house that say true.kind.necessary.  We decided that instead of ironically yelling at each other to be kind, it would help if we could point at the sign.  Interesting.  If you read only three pages of the whole book, read those three.  Maybe you can even find them on Amazon.com.  Wouldn’t we be a better people if we did those three things?




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