I have just finished reading a book that I found reassuring, inspiring and thought provoking. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne was a book that I kept seeing mentioned on blogs and a forum that I visit. It was always praised and being recommended as a book to read. As someone who is trying to simplify our lives I wanted to read a book that promotes less is more.
It was reassuring to read about things that I am trying to implement in my family's life. I have been going steadily through our stuff over the past year, decluttering and reducing. I have introduced a rhythm into our week, we like the predictability and order it brings. We live without a TV and try to limit our screen time to a minimum. I try to be as mindful as possible in the way I speak to my children. I have reduced the amount of audio we have in our house. These are all covered in the book.
I am inspired to continue with my decluttering process, to continue to reduce the stuff we have in the house. I have always felt that if my children were bored that I was not quite sure how I should respond, I wanted it to something that they dealt with themselves but I was not totally comfortable with it. I am going to try and find comfort with leaving them to deal with it. As part of my rhythm in my week I am going to ensure that I always include ordinary days as the author calls them, days when we are not busy to restore calm and balance in the week. I know my children need these days in the week but I need to remember to ensure that they are included.
There are three areas in particular that have drawn me in and made me pause for thought. The first is advice on how to react when a child is out of sorts for an extended period. When things are not right and the disquiet extends beyond a bad mood. The author suggests 'treating' this as you would a physical illness such as a fever. He takes you through the steps you would go through for a physical illness and then apply them to a soul fever as he calls them. You notice, you quieten things down, you stay at home, you let it run its course and hope for a strong return. This seems so obvious to me when I read it and I will attempt to apply this the next time I feel one of my children is out of sorts.
When talking you through simplifying a child's toys he mentions fixed toys, those that only do one thing, he describes them as being too finished. I have been looking at the toys we now have, trying to decide whether they are fixed or not and where you draw the line. Are toy cars fixed, they do allow imaginary play but is that enough. How about a marble run with pieces that you fit together? I am looking at all our stuff through a new pair of eyes.
The last is how I talk to my children. The author advocates talking less, making the words you do say matter, not bathing our children in words. The more we talk the less they listen. A child cannot play deeply and thoughtfully if we are talking through their every move. He suggests that in certain situations if we must talk make it an observation without judgement or praise. Talking less is a way of decluttering it gives a child more space for their own thoughts and feelings to develop. The words we do use are so important, I do try to be mindful about speaking to anyone, to speak to others as I wish to be spoken to myself. I often forget. So before I speak I am going to try to remember is it true, is it kind, is it necessary. The necessary meaning are your words more important than silence. I am going to try to make this my pause before speaking.