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Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,544 ratings  ·  525 reviews
Today’s busier, faster, supersized society is waging an undeclared war . . . on childhood. As the pace of life accelerates to hyperspeed–with too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time–children feel the pressure. They can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now, in defense of the extraordinary powe ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 2009)
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Katie
I have mixed feelings about this one. I think overall it deserves the four star rating because it makes many very important points and has a lot of helpful ideas for parents who want to protect their kids' childhood. It is well-written and not at all dry or a difficult read. On the other hand, I'm not sure how to articulate this...I felt smothered by the authors, by the growing list of shalls and shalt nots, by the overwhelming number of things that I ought to be changing and not doing anymore a ...more
Alison
I am feeling extremely ambivalent about this book.

On the one hand, I agree with most of his thesis. I think we all could do with simplifying. I think clutter, mental and physical, is distracting, and I can imagine it would be even moreso for children, since they are going through so much growth and development.

That being said, I think the author makes simplifying seem superficial. Like, if you clean up your house, turn off the TV, and do things in a lovely rhythm, your life will just magically
...more
Adrienne
This is probably among my top ten favorite parenting books, which isnt TOO shabby. It's obviously all about simplifying parenting and your kids' lives. I have to admit that I may have gone into this with the dirty motive of confirming my current beliefs regarding parenting and childhood (because, let's be honest, isn't that why most of us read parenting books?). The first several chapters did in fact just reaffirm my beliefs and validate our current lifestyle--we literally have none of the kinds ...more
Rebecca
Admittedly I didn't read every word (or chapter) in this book. The basic premise being that kids are experiencing stress in small doses often enough that they behave similarly to kids that suffer from one big stress and have post-traumatic stress disorder. And so we simplify. I guess I was already sold on the "simplify" idea and mostly just read looking for a few ideas. We implemented the "half the toys, then half them again" to eliminate superfluous toys, while putting a few more imaginative, c ...more
Ensiform
A how-to book on relieving stress from families, kids and parents alike. The key to Payne’s approach is simplifying, or filtering: less stuff, fewer toys, limited electronics, limited or no television, less news and adult drama in children’s lives, a greatly reduced schedule (one competitive sport, or one musical instrument, not everything at once). Payne argues that open, unstructured time is best for kids – time for them to be in charge of creative projects, time for them to discover themselve ...more
Sanz
November 10, 2014
Just finished this for the second time and I loved it just as much as the first time. I bought my own copy this time so I could highlight, which I did like crazy. Will read again!


September 8, 2012
Outstanding! This book covers four areas for simplifying home and family.

1. Environment.
The average American child receives 70 toys a year. "Kids don't need many toys to play, or any particular one. What they need most of all is unstructured time."

2. Rhythm:
"A ten year study found t
...more
Sheridan
OK, I would put this in one of my top parenting books. It can be applied to any age kids. It covers a lot of different areas of parenting.

I have followed a few of his suggestions and made changes in our family over the last few months. I have seen some positive results.

I love it so much I may start making it my gift to my doula clients! I wish I had read it when Thing 1 was a baby.

One of my other favorite parenting books is also Parenting Well in a Media Age. But most people won't take the ti
...more
Amy
I really enjoyed this book. I liked its focus on simplifying by streamlining environment, creating family rhythm, modifying schedules, and filtering out the adult world. Some techniques we already employ pretty well. Others we could be improved. Content in this book is very common sense. Interesting references to how simplifying provides a calming effect to children's behavior......particularly those with attention/focus issues. In my opinion, a worthwhile read and a good reminder for a family l ...more
Phoebe
I like "Simplicity Parenting" because it gives me a justification for my bohemian cheapskate impulses. When my grown children tell me they need therapy because I denied them television and crappy plastic toys, I'll be able to place the blame squarely on Kim John Payne.


Four stars may have been a bit too heavy praise. "Simplicity Parenting" isn't well-written and could have used a lot of pruning. But I like the concepts, and he makes some really difficult choices seem easy and incremental.
Laura
This book appeals to me for a couple of reasons. Paring down the kids' toys is consistent with my overall attempt to declutter my house. Also, my kids seem to need a lot of down time and this serves as a good reminder that that time has an important function at this age. I'm also very committed to open ended free play and this is gives me good fodder for that. As with Last Child in the Woods, this didn't so much change my thinking as give me more of an academic backup for my own inclination.
fMh Artemis
This was such a refreshing read! Payne does a great job of making the case for simplifying our kids' lives in a variety of ways. He's also very careful to come off as a counselor rather than a preacher and suggests that parents regard his ideas as a sort of menu, from which they can choose the things they want to implement in their lives and their kids lives.

Payne is a certified Waldorf teacher, as well as a counselor for parents and kids, and he acknowledges up front that a number of his ideas
...more
Jessica
While I agree fundamentally with almost all of the ideas expressed in this book, I cannot get over how poorly it is written. The structure is too loose. The tone is grating. The over use of inverted comas to highlight words or phrases is maddening. Still, I soldiered through because the information contained therein was worth getting.

The only other concern I had about it is it is written for people who are already having problems raising their children. The book is a fix-it book, not a preparati
...more
Patriciahoperose
"Somewhere between the dreams and the concerns is the answer . . . the place to bring imagination, the place to start simplifying."

"I do not mean that the home and everything done in it are oriented toward the child, but I absolutely mean that the home and everything in in are not exclusively oriented toward adults. A certain pace or volume of 'stuff' may be tolerable for adults, while it is intolerable, or problematic, for the kids."

"Children are such tactile beings. They live so fully by their
...more
Jennifer
Read in a few sittings, had been on my list for a while. Part one: eliminate mental clutter in children's lives by paring down the sheer numbers of toys and books lying around. This simple, but powerful message was helpful in my own family, though probably could have been communicated more directly via an essay than the several chapters I remember it taking. Part two: electronic media, helicopter parenting, overscheduling, children running the household, etc. The tempo picked up, and the authors ...more
Josephine
3.5 stars. In some ways I think this is the best parenting book I've read. I agreed with pretty much all of his ideas and I think a lot of people could really benefit from reading and implementing some of these strategies.
That being said, this book was really long winded! He spent the whole first chapter (35 pages) trying to sell you on the idea of simplifying. I was already sold on it before I picked up the book. However, there was some interesting research in that part that was worth reading,
...more
Devin
Feb 05, 2014 Devin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Every parent and grandparent, aunt and uncle. Powerful in its call to create margin in family life.
Recommended to Devin by: A NYTimes article touched on it; then a Waldorf School flyer...
Shelves: brookline-2014
I *just* put down Simplicity Parenting--nearly regretting that this remarkably readable and relatively short book was complete and that there wasn't another book by this author. (Where is his TED talk?! Why did I miss his live presentation at a local Waldorf School recently?! I want more!)

From practice micro-steps to create "space and grace" in our homes and relationships, to penetrating meta-insights about our consumer-driven and frenetic-paced culture... Finally an author wove in words somethi
...more
Mary Mulliken
I know I'm fast becoming a parenting book junkie, but this book was AWESOME! I loved it. So many things about the world of status quo parenting don't work or don't look right to me, on a gut level, but I don't always know why. I just know that I see lots of obedience training and entitlement training going on, and, simultaneously, tons and tons of kids diagnosed with ADHD, etc. This book does a beautiful job of explaining that all [most] kids really need is a simpler life -- less stuff, just a f ...more
Shae
5 stars for ideas, but 3 stars for writing, so a total of 4 stars in the parenting category. The title of this book says it all and by the end of the first chapter (with one exception -- Ch.3) I think I got the meatiest part of what Dr. Payne had to say and could have skipped the rest. Actually, I take that back -- depending on the complexity of your life you may find the chapters on simplifying environment, rhythm, schedules, or filtering out the adult world to be helpful. As an introvert I am ...more
Bobbie Greene
I was lead to this book through quite a few of the blogs I follow and books I've read, and it was worth reading certain parts (although I felt like I'd already heard the same information from the other sources). The two most important bits of information I gained from Simplicity Parenting were: a) the most elemental toys are the ones that will last and will inspire the most creative use of imagination, and b) communication is key when it comes to respecting a child and engaging with them (no sur ...more
Jenn
One of the best parenting books I've read. I was surprised that the writing was actually very good, especially for a parenting book! Most parenting books I've read are infuriatingly redundant. This one may have been a little bit guilty of wordiness, too, but it was so much better than most.

Felt like a blend of Zero Waste Home (which I loved, loved, loved) and Free Range Kids."

Key points I liked:

Toys:
Get rid of overstimulating toys or "fixed" toys (those that can only do one thing and don't allo
...more
Hafidha
This is a straightforward and enjoyably simple read. The author, Kim John Payne, is a member of the Waldorf movement, and his background is as a social worker, and counselor for children and families in Asia, the UK, and the US. His basic premise is that today's children are often subjected to a family life built on "the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too much speed."

To clarify, "too much information" is specifically in reference to adult in
...more
Becky
This book solidified much of what I already instiinctually believed about parenting, and explained why these guidelines are so important to a child's development. I call them guidelines because I think they are things to keep in mind rather than get too intense about them, as some of his suggestions (such as not talking at children too much) if taken too literally I think can prevent a parent from acting naturally with his or her child. I would also add that many of these ideas about a more bala ...more
Amy
This book was pretty interesting....the topic is one I am trying to embrace, so I was pretty excited to read it. The author is a researcher and has spent many years working with kids in many cultures. He includes lots of interesting facts about why kids need simple lives, and he includes stories of his real life patients. The first half of the book was great, but then it seemed a bit repetitive to me. It is worth it to check it out of the library, but I don't think I'll purchase this one. I did ...more
Amy
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne is about simplifying the life surrounding your children - their environment, daily rhythms, schedules, and filtering out the adult oriented world (news, mature topics, etc). Payne is a Waldorf educator and parent counselor, and I can really see the "Waldorf way" shine through this entire book. I think it is an excellent book for a non-Waldorf parent to learn how to reduce the amount of toys, books, and activities surrounding your child(ren) - however, if yo ...more
Shellie
While reading this book I hauled away broken and barely-used toys, excess books and unnecessary clothes. I simplified our environment, changed t.v. time, and then I examined our weekly schedule to be sure we were getting enough family meals and downtime. I also revisited an earlier attempt at having a “Pasta Night”, “Soup Night”, and “Pizza Night” on designated days of every week. I know my children crave predictability and this book only reinforced the importance of eliminating clutter and buil ...more
Marci
Oh man, best parenting book I've read in YEARS and I've read quite a few. The suggestions in this book made an immediate impact on my family. I still have a ways to go in implementing (particularly clearing out the stuff!) but the impact on our schedules, pace of life, etc. has been so meaningful. Highly recommend this book.
Angela
Loved this book. I think it's really the only parenting book anyone needs to read. It gets right down to the basics of what you ideally always wanted to do as a parent, but didn't end up doing because you get caught up in the world around you. It explains how to reclaim the basics and why you should.
Lindsey
I really loved this book, probably because so many parts of it simply validated my gut feelings about being a mother. I love the idea of having less stuff, scheduled commitments and stresses to allow kids to do their work of growing and developing in peace. I've also learned that I feel more peaceful and have more patience when there is less clutter (literal and figurative). This book gives some good ideas on how to simplify. I especially loved the chapter on toys. Even if you don't agree with a ...more
Little
"Simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life."

The tone of this book is lovely. Warm and relaxed, it conveys not just thoughts about simplicity or suggestions for how to achieve it but also a felt rhythm of simplicity through the text. In a nutshell, you can summarize the book fairly easily: Have less stuff, stress, and noise, have more space, time, and connection. But I think the process of reading and digesting the book is helpful in
...more
Smpaetz
This was an insightful book for people who have never come across this idea. I personally am beyond this book and it's message. I was looking for a lot more meat and this book is more on the why to simplify. This also seems like a message being sold to small one or two child families who are financially well off. People who have six kids have already simplified their lives greatly out of necessity. I would probably recommend this to my friends who only have one or two kids and say they can't aff ...more
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