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Has anyone read the book Simplicity Parenting? What did you think of it?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Because of its focus on decluttering, simplifying, and routine, I feel it is appropriate to keep this question in this forum.


I am very curious to hear about others' thoughts on this book.  I have not read it yet, but I was given a copy and wonder what others think of it.  At first glance, it certainly seems in line with the ideas of simplifying home and habits to create a calmer, healthier environment for kids and parents.  Can anyone tell me more?

post #2 of 20

Read it!  I found it to be more of a parenting book than a decluttering guide, but he certainly does address the benefits to the family of having a simplified home.

post #3 of 20

I'm re-reading it now and adore it just as much as the first time. It's the only parenting book besides Sears' that I actually bought and keep in the house.


Payne's compassion for children and respect for childhood emanate throughout and his steps for simplifying are doable. He discusses at length how a calm physical environment (i.e. organized and uncluttered) helps to protect children from becoming overwhelmed, allows them to play more creatively and cooperatively and helps to avoid developing consumerist tendencies. He then breaks down what to look for in a toy to know if it's worth keeping and how to begin clearing the rest out. Very inspiring; I read through this section when I feel like "stuff" is starting to creep in again.


Other parts I like: recognizing and treating "soul fevers" (emotional upheavals); providing "pressure valves" for emotional release; and doing something each day by candlelight. Dd now loves to bathe by candlelight each night and it really is soothing. 

post #4 of 20

I just finished this book and I absolutely loved.  Definitely read it.  The simplifying/decluttering component I found very helpful.  Also he talks about using the filters "is it true?  is it kind? and is it necessary?" in our relationships (with our children, partners, etc..).  I try to keep this in my mind now and I feel like it has really helped me to communicate better.  I borrowed this book from the library but I actually think I am going to buy it now.

post #5 of 20

Can you talk a little about how to know whether or not to keep a toy?  I am definitely interested in this book for that topic alone!

post #6 of 20
Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post

Can you talk a little about how to know whether or not to keep a toy?  I am definitely interested in this book for that topic alone!

Me too.
post #7 of 20

I really liked it, though I found some bits repetitive (but I'm impatient 2whistle.gif).  I bought after I read a thread about it on here for the decluttering section, but found the bit on rhythm really useful.  I am just setting up a new home in a new city and am trying to incorporate more rhythm into our days.  I think it is one I will read again, even though some of the waldorfy-ness of it doesn't really fit with our family. 

post #8 of 20


Originally Posted by Juvysen View Post

Originally Posted by Attila the Honey View Post

Can you talk a little about how to know whether or not to keep a toy?  I am definitely interested in this book for that topic alone!

Me too.

 Annoying, I just wrote a whole post on this and it has gone!  Attempt number 2....


The 10 point checklist of toys without staying power:


1) Broken toys

2) Developmentally inappropriate toys

3) Conceptually 'fixed' toys - mostly character toys - Dora can only be Dora - she already has a story line

4) Toys that do too much and break too easily

5) Very high stimulation toys

6) Annoying or offensive toys

7) Toys that claim to give your child a developmental edge

8) Toys you are pressured to buy - being pestered by your kid who has been seduced by the advertising

9)Toys that inspire corrosive play

10) Toy multiples - i.e. many copies or versions of the same toy (how may trains/ponys/dolls/stuffed rabbits does one kid need)


He goes into each of these in more depth and does a bit on what to keep as well.  Really though, you probably already know what is worth keeping.  He suggests putting all your kids' toys in a pile and then halving it and then possibly halving it again.  Also, I think all kids are different - if your kid loves buzz lightyear then it is worth keeping, even though it is a character doll.  But he probably doesn't need all the other characters or 3 buzz dolls and accessories.


post #9 of 20

I did a lot of "already done that." For your average person the ideas might seem shocking but to many here they are very familiar. I did find some good ideas as well as inspiration in it, though.

post #10 of 20

I also super love this book, it's one that I read from the library and then purchased, and is now all marked up with ideas to try as well as my own notes.  I found the book so grounded and the ideas quite doable (though "radical" by some standards, I suppose).  I'm at the point now where even the ideas that make me think "surely that won't make a big difference", I'm willing to try because I've seen how his ideas have made a significant difference.  I re-read it when I start feeling harried and find both inspiration and practical ways to reduce the stress levels.


ETA they have a blog too that I sometimes read: http://www.simplicityparenting.com/blog/

post #11 of 20

The author came to my town and I went to see him speak.  There was also a day of workshops the following day, but it was 100 bucks so i chose to skip it.  What he said was very inspiring though and the book was great :)

post #12 of 20

Thanks for posting about this book..I'm going to get it from the library today!

post #13 of 20

Well, it must be popular...4 holds on the first returned copy at the library.  But I may just buy it since everyone seems to say it is a book to own rather than borrow anyway.

post #14 of 20

I have just finished reading this book.  I absolutely love this book.  I have so many ideas floating around my head right now.  I hope you all can help me work through some of them. 


Those of you who have read the book, how far have you gone implementing simplicity into your children's lives?


Some of the things I am questioning right now:


Screen time - I don't see a complete elimination of screen time happening in our house.  But, I am considering doing away with DS watching regular TV channels and only letting him watch DVDs and movies without the associated commercials.  He is getting a LeapFrog Explorer for Christmas from my parents and DH is getting a Playstation 3.  I caved on those two things a few weeks ago and I foresee only allowing video games of any sort on the weekend.  We are planning on starting a chore board type system in the new year (Accountable Kids). And, I was considering having him earn screen time. DS doesn't generally watch much TV during the week, since DH and I both WOH.  Now I am just confused on the topic of screen time.  Do you impose limits?  Restrict all access for young children?


Books - How many books do you allow your children to keep?


Activities - Our DS is 4 years old and I am thinking one outside activity during the school year would be appropriate.  We were thinking of Tae Kwon Do during the school year.  And, maybe adding in swimming back again just during the summer.  Maybe when he is a few years older he can add an instrument.  Only one sport at a time, though.


Toys I think I can whittle down.  I might rotate some of the playsets like Imaginext and physical equipment like a sit & spin and hopper ball. 


I like the idea of previewing each day and of weekly meals.  Like Wednesday is soup day.  Friday Pizza day.


Can you  share some of the actually details on the changes you made?

post #15 of 20



Can you  share some of the actually details on the changes you made?

Our family has been working through this book for over a year now and so I can't even remember all the changes we've made!  But I can respond to some of the things you mention:


First, I LOVE having regular meal days.  We made a little menu board that says "Monday: Italian" and then has a space for the specific meal.  "Tuesday: soup ______" etc.  It's really simplified things!  For your 4 year old you could even have a picture of it, if you feel like you want him to understand/know the rotation.


For screentime, I am with you about being confused!  We do use limits in our family, but they're not super clearly laid out.  In my head I have this thought that I don't want tv-watching (or computer usage) to be a daily thing).  Our eldest rarely watches tv during the week, but the middle one watches every day while I put the toddler down for her nap.  It's something I'd love to change but don't know how right now.  For us, it's only a problem if it's interfering with active play, friends, and solo play.  There needs to be enough time for all of those, screentime is lower on the list for us.


Books - we have a few books (usually about 5) for each child at the spot where we do each child's bedtime.  Those books rotate, sometimes because a child will bring a different book up and the shelf/basket gets full, or sometimes because I actually go in and rotate them.  We also have bookshelves - one in the family room, one in the dining room, and my daughter has one in her room.  They rarely use the shelves and instead just read the books that are in the smaller piles.  We also have a small shelf with library books, which I make a point to pull out on a regular basis.  We also pulled out all books that are seasonal.  Those are now stored in the basement and only come out during the appropriate season.  Currently we have those under the xmas tree, though I'm thinking that for the next season they'll just be in a basket in the living room. 


Toys - I LOVE rotating toys!  First, I'm always putting toys away in the basement.  The kids know they can get them anytime, but they very rarely ask.  Then whenever they start to feel a little more bored, or seem kind of played out with their toys (every few weeks for the little one, less often for the bigger kids) I just go down their and pull out a bunch of new  ones.  That way, we only have one or two building sets out at a time, and I can also reduce the number of toys with lots of pieces.  The system isn't failproof but I do really love having fewer toys in the main living areas.  It's a lot less clutter and quite quick to clean up. 


Previewing - on Sunday night I pull out our planner at dinner and we talk about the week.  We also preview the next day with the kids as we tuck them in.  During times that are very different than their regular routine (like school breaks), we actually have a little set of index cards with the words and a picture of activities we generally do.  I then post those on a felt board each night so when they wake up they know exactly what the plan is: "breakfast and get ready; playground; lunch and rest hour; arts and crafts; relax and play; dinner and bedtime" for example.  They really enjoy this and when I get my act together I'm going to start doing it with the two kids who are still home with me most of the time.


For a few other rhythms and routines that we do, we have family fun day one Saturday a month. During it we go to the local breakfast joint and then do something that we've all agreed upon during the week prior.  On Saturdays we also (usually) do chores all together, we go to church on Sunday and the older two talk with their birth parents on the weekend as well.  We eat dinner together, have snack together after school (which I really had to make a point to sit down for, it's been great!), and have reduced breakfast choices to "whatever mom makes, or cereal."    I really loved the section on rhythm :)


That's all I can think of for now, does this help at all?

post #16 of 20

I have a copy of it on hold at the library, so as soon as this crazy winter storm passes, I will finally get to read it.  Looking forward to it!

post #17 of 20

That most certainly helps!  Thanks so much for posting!


I have been doing some more thinking. Here is my game plan so far:


Screen time – I am hoping to limit adult screen time until after DS is in bed for the night.  I am thinking we will stick mostly to PBS and DVDs for DS, so we can lower the amount of commercials he is exposed to.  He hasn’t been watching much TV lately, anyway. The Explorer will only be allowed to be played on the weekend for a limited amount of time.  The PS3 is Daddy’s and he will only be able to watch or play on the weekends with Daddy.  And, only games that we approve. 


Books – DS has a little shelf on the bottom of his night stand. I will let him pick out a few books at a time to store there.  Then he will be able to exchange books from his book library.   I am planning on putting them on a shelf in his closet.  So, they will be out of sight.


Toys- I plan rotating his two Imaginext sets and Diego playsets.  So, only one big  playset at a time will be out downstairs.  In his room he has a train table to play Legos and Playmobil.  Those two toys are confined only to his room and will be the only toys there  in his room besides his stuffed animals.  I am then going to make a little physical play corner with basement playroom with all the active toys.  I think I figured out a place to corral them, so they are not so cluttered and messy looking. I want him have access to physical toys during the long winters here.  I am going to rearrange his toys and make a dress up bin, art center and define types of toys better into one storage container or area.   His shelves will be much more open and hopefully it will be easier to clean up. 


Rhythm – I really want to work more on a weekly rhythm. Sunday Pancake day.  Friday Movie Night.  Saturday Game or Friend get together night.  Our daily rhythms are not too bad right now.  We need to work on more of a weekly schedule for DS, DH and myself. 

I really like the idea of previewing the day.  That seems so easy to do right away.  We usually talk for a little while at bedtime.  That is the perfect time to do that and is already a built in pressure valve time of the day for him.  That is when he usually opens up to me, at bedtime.


I have spent quite a bit of time reading online trying to come up with some ideas and I think I have some ideas to run with now and get started. I am excited.   I want to declutter our whole home in general so the whole house has the same sense of calm we are trying to give our son.  So, I will probably be hanging out in this forum a lot more often now.

post #18 of 20

I just picked up this book this week! I can't wait to get really into it, but for now, I'm just in the introduction. Some of these ideas seem really great, though!

post #19 of 20

I bought this book over the weekend as well.  I've been reading it slowly so I can digest what I've read (normally I can just blow through books quickly).  Some things I've started:


1) Lighting candles daily.  Rather than waiting for the end of the day, I use the candles for some extra light.  It's been snowing a lot here, and our house can be so dark, but the candles are just enough to add a little brightness (and peacefullness) to the day


2) Cut back on tv.  And when we do watch it, we watch either commercial-free children's programming, or a short movie.


3) Cut back on music.  I would always have the radio on for background noise, but now I'm finding that I'm enjoying the quiet.


4) Focusing on a rhythm.  DS1 (2yr) was always good with whatever went on during the day, but I find that DS2 (6 mths now!) seems to like his routine.  It's been an adjustment - more for me than anyone else!


5) Less running around.  We would always bring the boys on family errands, and while it's nice once in awhile, I think we were doing it too often.  It was more stressful on DH & myself - arranging food (DS1 has allergies to wheat, dairy and nuts), diaper bag, toys, and organizing stops.  By the time we left the house, we were already tired (and low on patience).


6) DS1 has started to help with the chores around the house.  He loads the washing machine with me, loads the dryer, helps with dishes, sweeps the floors, and wipes down whatever surfaces I happen to be cleaning with his own rag.  This is rather than watching tv (which I'll admit I've used as a distraction for him more than once so I could get things done).


A big source of inspiration for me has been this blog - http://www.simplicityparenting.com/blog/  which is a blog based on the book.  I'm looking forward to what other people have done.  Keep the ideas coming!!

post #20 of 20

OHHH, I found this on a search.  I don't have a copy of this book but am really liking all the ideals I have found from this book sound so good.  I have been working the last year especially on getting more rhythm and routine in our day, and decluttering has been my goal for as long as I can remember. 


I, too, am trying to figure out what limits I want for screen time.  I am having a hard time quantifying what I want though.  We don't have cable, so that is easy.  I did let them watch some on one of our channels on Sat but we stopped getting reception in the summer and I decided not to start it again. I am glad he is away from the commercials.  Right now they are only watching Netflix, we bought a blueray streaming player, so everything on there is something that I picked out, some PBS and nature documentaries.  So, I feel pretty good about what they are watching at least.  I don't them watching daily.  If they do watch I think we should have a rule that it has to be after school time(we homeschool)


I have been better about meal planning as well and I think that is good for them and me.  We are trying to establish some different traditions for our family, it has to be a matter of priorities, which of course will be different for everyone. 


Recently we did a HUGE clearing of toys as well, so the kids can keep their own space clear and clean.  I find they both enjoy that so much.  Toys we kept are organized into certain categories- ie dress-up, tea party, etc for dd1- Legos,Knex,cars etc for ds.  I need to do a bit more pairing but it is pretty good, I am nervous about Christmas from the in-laws. 


Something else I did to simplify for them and me- put coat hooks in their room at their height.  Shoes have a designated spot that they can all reach.  Clothes were organized into 3 drawers- underclothes/pj's- town clothes, play clothes.  This means they can pick out their own outfits and easily put them up themselves as well.  They like having that control and I like releasing that responsibility to them. 


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