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

A chapter by chapter discussion of Simplicity Parenting - CHAPTER ONE

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Dayna Lets get this discussion rolling!

This thread is started by three moms who read the book together and wanted to discuss the ideas. We will most likely take the discussion chapter by chapter.

Feel free to join in with us.

Dayna I was thinking with the amount of topics that may come up we should create a different discussion thread for each chapter. The title of this discussion has been renamed CHAPTER ONE>

Ok - Here are my notes, thoughts, and comments on Chapter One.

The first part that resonated with me was "What are the flash-points of the day? What are the parts well aligned with our intentions and why do they work?" This part got me to thinking about dissecting my days and considering digging deeper to find why the most pleasurable parenting moments are that way. I think my results will prove that not only does my child need a reliable schedule but so do I. When I over plan our days - there are more of those "flash-point" moments.
What things have you added or removed from your day to day to make more flow in your life?
Here are two points that I loved and think I will write out and keep on a note in my purse or pocket or somewhere easily accessible. These are points I want to keep revisiting through my lifetime of parenting. Now in rereading them I think they were also deep held believes that I formed before my child was even born.
1. "The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for them outweigh our fears for them"
(as a parent of an only child I think I will struggle the most with this. I am a worry wart and really do not want my fears to rule my child's life. I am thankful that my husband, through his laid back style helped me to adjust to releasing some of my fears)
2. "Children come to us with a destiny that needs to be honored"
I once had the honor of reading a chapter of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophetat a couples wedding. I was so moved that I read the whole book and refer to it often when I need a spiritual boost. I was pregnant at the time and the chapter on children and parenting really held deep meaning for me - and this quote is a wonderful condensed version of Gibran's piece. You can read the whole piece here:
What parenting ideals did you have before your children were even born?
I really liked the two antidotes in this chapter.
1. The one about the parents who were politically savvy and were very in tune with the news. I have often found myself finding ways to explain adult “stuff” to my child on 4 year old terms…and now I am taking a step back in that – thinking at first that I was making her more worldly…now considering that there will be time to be worldly down the road – but only now to be a child.
2. I related to the tale of the man who stopped to pick up the “5-Minute” bedtime stories for his child. I have seen these books – and right away was put off by them and put some that were given to us in a donation bin…but what I saw in myself was that some nights I was picking a book to read at bedtime based on its length. This is not how I want bedtime to be at all…nor is it how I want any sort of reading together time to be remembered. Sometimes in my fatigue I read too quickly or don’t stop to really enjoy the illustrations or allow my child to ask the full gambit of questions a book may create. When I sit and think of the amount of family jokes or traditions we have based on beloved books or characters it makes me really want to slow down this shared time. It is so much more then just the small time spent together reading that one book – it is the memories created, deep ideas thought about, connections drawn and more.

These two pieces hooked me into this book. I feel that there is a lot of the book that validates the way in which my husband and I already parent – but at the same time these two examples show that I have areas where I want to improve as well.
I was nodding my head in affirmation while reading the section that discussed “is there anything we don’t feel the need to hurry?” The book states that we can’t speed up gestation but after birth we are off and running. I find I have to even disagree on that gestation part…I have overheard numerous woman talk about scheduling c-sections prior to a full 40 week gestation or wishing that the baby would come early.

I really loved the comparison of childhood to sleep…that they both allow for critical development – that neither is simply a way to pass time to either waking or adulthood. “childhood does more then mark time between now and is a slow development of identity, well being, and resiliency.”

These reasons and the end of chapter recap “IMAGINE your home…” were what propelled me into the other chapters knowing I would find great ideas and thoughts on a simpler way to parent.

Jess Gill i really liked the idea of dissecting our days to determine what parts work, and what parts don't... i recently read a review of a book about a woman who approached parenting in the same way she did in her previous work in the business world - that she analyzed what was working, continually refined it, and changed things as needed... she put a significant amount of critical thought into her parenting on a regular basis. i find that structure is definately needed for successful days in our house - that predictability is needed not only for my children, but also for the adults. this isn't to say that every minute is planned out, and that we stick to the plans/schedule at all times, but that life seems to work best when there's a good flow to our days, and each family member knows what to expect/do.

we've recently moved up our dinner time to 5:30 in order to have some time after dinner, from 6:00 - 7:00 to enjoy each others company/relax before starting the bedtime routine. this is usually imaginative play/building legos/blocks, etc... right now, but i imagine as our children get older, we'll do things like a family game. in warmer weather it's a walk after dinner. the time is just focused on being with each other - not checking email, watching the news, etc... - and it's seemed to make for a dedicated time, and a smoother transition between one activity (mealtime) and another (bedtime), whereas in the past this could sometimes be more challenging.

i love the Kahlil Gibran piece - thanks for sharing it! i'm thinking about printing it out to put someplace that i can reflect back on it. i had a great number of theories and ideas about parenting before i ever had kids, like i imagine so many others did as well. i'd say generally most of my ideals have remained the same in terms of who i'd like to be as a parent, and what type of children i'd like to raise... i think i never anticipated just how much work it would be to parent, though. not that i thought it would be in any way easy, just that it's the day to day work that can be tiring, and make it easy to want to find quick solutions to parenting or approach situations in parenting in ways that you might not have thought you would (TV is a perfect example of this - i'm not completely opposed to TV viewing, i just know that at different times, depending upon what's going on, i've let Ben watch TV more than i would have ever wanted him to before i had kids, which was one 1/2 hour show a day, max).

i think it's hard to figure out the right balance between creating awareness of the world around us for our children, and robbing them of the innocence of childhood - i'm not sure where the line is for this either, although i do know that we conciously don't watch the news when our kids are awake just because of how overwhelming it can be (i get overwhelmed occasionally when watching as an adult).

life does seem like it's hurried, and yes, even gestation now, whereas elective c-sections for reasons of convienence (not medical reasons, of course) weren't even a possibility not that long ago. childhood is such a fleeting time, and in terms of an entire lifespan it's so short. i have friends/aquantiences who seem in such a rush to get their children to the point where they're to the next step, even as young babies, that it feels like they're always missing what's currently happening. i know that someday i'll have grown children and think back with nostalgia to when they were so small, and miss them at age 1, 2, 3, etc... and i think that perhaps not wanting to rush through xxx stage to get to yyy stage, and really soaking in each stage they're at just might help in not feeling so sad that they've moved on. and of course this is hard, really hard, sometimes.

i have some more thoughts on chapter 1 that i'll post soon - just wanted to respond to all the great comments you made, Dayna!

Jess Gill i found chapter 1 to be a great set-up for the rest of the book - it was interested to go back & reread chapter 1 after reading through the entire book already, as i found myself picking up on things i didn't the first time around, or thinking about them differently in response to what i'd already thought about while reading the book.

one thing that we've added to our dinner conversation each night is "best part/hardest part"... while my husband and I don't bring into the conversation adult issues from work, we do try to relate something good and something difficult about our day. i'm pleasantly surprised at just how excited my son gets about sharing this each day... he actually asks everyone, even his 6-month-old sister (and i laugh when he answers for her "Oh, Sophie, the best part of your day was..."). i'd like to develop more routine questions for our dinner conversation, as well as a list of those that we could ask occasionally - more thought-provoking/discussion oriented ones than just a recap of our individual days (not that this isn't valuable/important, of course). i think being purposeful about this time will create a really meaningful experience for everyone in the family.

something that i struggle with, and feel as though i'm continually working on, is being mindful of the specific task at hand - it's hard to put thoughts of "adult matters" aside, particularly if they're troubling. i feel as though it's often a challenge to not let my mind wander to the to-do list i have made for after bedtime, or a work email i need to send, and really be present in the moment when it comes to my children especially. i think kids are very perceptive in knowing if they have undivided attention from adults, even at a young age.

i like that the book sets itself up as providing a number of ways to protect the environment of childhood - that this is "in danger" of being eroded away, so to speak, by any number of things. the thoughts that "nothing happens unless first a dream" & "your dreams for your family will be your motivation..." just solidify how important it is to keep a mental picture of what you want family life/your home/the way in which you raise your children to be like.

i like the question about imagining an average day for your family, and what it might look like to an observer. What are the difficulties that might arise? What periods of the day are consistently stressful? i'm thinking really hard about this question, and working to continually tweak things so that the reality - the environment/way we spend time/expectations/experiences all match up with the dream. i love the quote "as parents, we're the architects of our family's daily lives" that's the 1st line of the book.

I think as parents, it crucial that we model simplicity/calmness for our children - of course not at all times, but on a regular basis, and conciously. i like the task that is given in the chapter to create a mental picture of what you want life to be like, and start there... i love the image that is set up of "your home as a place where time moves a little slower, with space, and time, for children - and with time for one another every day".

Dayna wow - so many great points. I can't wait for some quite time to pop back in here and reread these comments and post again.

Dayna I really agree about the flow and structure or a day...I look forward to reading the upcoming chapters as they discuss that very topic. Just today for the first time I plotted my day on a day calendar, much like I do with my work days...things were so much more pleasant. I would like to say that I don't need to spend the time plotting and planning in that way - but think that in realizing I do - we will all be better off. Not to say that there is no room for becomes quite the opposite. I can rearrange the day based on our changing needs and priorities. It is far better then stumbling through the day with little rhyme or reason - hoping that come 10pm it all worked out as I hoped. It led to less stress in when I would get to something...every task had its time and when the time came I could give my full attention - as opposed to half participation while I worried and or thought of other things that needed some of my time in the day.

Jess, when you speak of this time between dinner and bed... are you all participating in something together as a family? Or is it more like everyone is engaged in an activity but all in proximity of one another and without TV? We struggle with this time mostly because our dinner time is often late due to some work schedules that just are what they are. Dinner is all about our time together and sharing a meal and tales of our day. You can see how this lets our daughter download and process her day with the security and structure of mom and dad around to help her with that process.

I too LOVE the Gibran piece - you should definitely check out the whole book - it is amazing. If you find a clever way of displaying it - let me know :)

Being present in time and place while parenting can be one of the biggest lessons I learn from this whole thing called life. I try to have a deep appreciation for the moment and not while away this time in anticipation of what is to come. Each step has really been amazing...and fleeting!

I love the idea of a mental image of your family dreams...and knowing you can always touch base with that image. No matter what is going on around you can keep your eye on that dream and touching base with it as though it were a metaphorical horizon to keep your eyes on. There will be times when it is harder to fathom and spot - but knowing it is there is sometimes the biggest hurdle. I love thinking of our home as a place that moves a little slower - it is a place completely custom to our needs and wants - not those of the rest of the world.

Jess Gill we are usually participating in something together as a whole family, although sometimes it's individually/in pairs, in close proximity. sometimes it's playing a game or drawing a picture/writing a letter, or if needed cleaning up from the day. it's hard right now to all be engaged in the same activity since the time right after dinner until bedtime for Sophie is a hard/fussy time of day. i do struggle with making this time meaningful, though, when Harry is traveling just because the needs of both kids are so different right now, and it usually ends up that Ben is in his room playing independantly while i'm taking care of Sophie. i do feel like at least we're right in close proximity, though, during this time. i love when the weather turns warm enough to eat outside, and there's just a natural progression from eating to playing in the yard to coming back inside and starting the bedtime routine. i think what's most important, though, for this time, is that the TV is off, because that just seemed to create issues in transitioning to bedtime. i know different things work for different family's though, and that watching a show together after dinner might be something that works. Dayna - what does this time look like for you guys? i'm assuming that Tim sees patients until later in the day/early evening to accomodate people's work schedules?

message 8: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris Nelson I am loving reading your comments Dayna and Jess! Just peeking in from time to time as I slowly do my reading. I'm not having as much free time as I would have liked to participate in this discussion, but I wanted to let you know I'm here and grateful to your beautiful shared thoughts.

Jess Gill No rush, Chris... the beauty of online discussions is that we can each post and respond at our own pace.

message 10: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris Nelson “By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood’s slow, essential unfolding of self”

I am reminded of all the learning and adventures and true unfolding of self that I experienced in my own life. This occurred in summer, when life truly did feel simple and slow. My parents moved us to a summer cottage June through August where there was no TV and very little in the way of structure. Simply put, we were free to roam the woods, comb the beach and play, play, play. I think my own love for creativity and learning came from those summers!

And now that I am a mom it is so important for me to remember what is really important, and let the other “stuff” fall by the way side. I think already one of my jobs as a parent to Myra is to be a “filter”. Maybe that’s not the best word, but somehow I am the bridge between her little existence and the rest of the outside world.

The anecdote about the little boy who was so well versed in the issue of global warming is a good one! As parents we have a fine line to walk – between wanting our children to experience and have an understanding of the entire world out there and protecting them in their childhood so they just “be”. Total exposure is one extreme, and total protectionism is the other. There are faults with both extremes, is a middle road possible? From both of you experienced moms, I think Yes!

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