As I have been SIMPLIFYING my life this summer--chucking out more than half the kids' toys, culling down our schedules into more predictable routines--my California friend, Anita, gave gleaming reviews of a book that I simply had to sink my teeth into: SIMPLICITY PARENTING, by Kim John Payne, M. Ed.
I'm only through the intro and deep into the first chapter, but you can see from my irreverent dog-ears that I am literally TEARING up this book! The author caught my attention from the very first page:
"You can see what a family holds dear from the pattern of their everyday lives. I've been trained to do so as a counselor and educator, but children need no such fancy training. They pick up the clues naturally. They see the golden overlay on all of our comings and goings, all of our tasks and busyness.
THIS IS WHAT THEY SEE: With our TIME and PRESENCE we GIVE LOVE. Simple."
Yes, Yes, YES!! Can I get an AMEN?!
Simplicity Parenting speaks to the importance of preserving margin in our children's lives, and specifically cultivating a
"REVERENCE FOR CHILDHOOD" by:
1. Decluttering our ENVIRONMENT, minimizing toys and sensory overload
2. Establishing RHYTHM and rituals (here I go, getting all giddy--rituals!)
3. Scheduling breaks into the SCHEDULE--"islands" of sanctuary in the stormy seas of life's stressors
4. FILTERING OUT the adult world, including the "endless deluge of information and stimulation"
The author points to how these four elements, when out of whack, create cumulative stress in our children's lives that magnify their quirks and cause them to slide along the spectrum to disorder:
Wistful children with a disposition for dreaminess + accumulated stress = Attention-type ADHD
Physically active children ("doers") + accumulated stress = ADHD/Hyperactivity
A courageous child who feels things intensely and is senstive to fairness + stress = ODD
Detail-oriented children + accumulated stress = OCD
The author's premise, based upon years of therapy with families, is that "This sliding along the spectrum is really quite normal. Just as stress can push children in one direction, the reverse is also true. When you really SIMPLIFY a child's life on a number of levels, back they come."
I'm already convicted of several things reading this book, especially of how much I need to filter out more of the adult world and the amount of "screen time" in our home (we're especially suckers for movies, which I'd never do away with entirely, but definitely cut down on, and the kids have watched a few rather violent kid's movies that I'm sure are inappropriate for their age). I also feel I need to do more to guard their schedules, and give them plenty of time to be bored--I swear that being a "bored" only-child bolstered my imagination and creativity such that I define myself in part by these traits, even as an adult.
Simply put, only 27 pages in, Simplicity Parenting is hands-down the BEST parenting book I've ever read.
(Now if I can convince my dear editor to let me interview the author...)