My "light bus reading" right now is Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. If I were a book-highlighter, the pages would be glowing in fluorescent yellow. More typically, I'd make a discrete notation in the margin to emphasize a section for myself. I'm doing nothing of the sort, since it's a library book, but otherwise, the margins would be filling up rapidly! In true Phone Booth fashion, I've been marking pages by tearing a shred off of the narrow strip of paper the library used to write my name for the "Holds" shelf, and I'll recycle or compost said shreds when I return the book. Anyway, back to the book itself, which I am loving...
In the introduction, Payne writes:
"I worry that we'll understand the 'purpose' of childhood by seeing, increasingly, what people are like when they've been rushed through theirs... Are we building our families on the four pillars of 'too much': too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, too fast?"Towards a solution, he offers four layers of simplicity: environment, rhythm, schedule, and filtering out the adult world. A good amount of the advice seems more relevant to parents with younger children -- the TruffulaBoyz are of lower- and upper-elementary-school age, respectively. Still, the gems are plentiful for my family's age group, and... for us parents!
How many times have our Dear Offspring moaned "Mama, I'm bored"? Green Phone Boothers, we need despair no more! Payne proposes that "the glut of goods may deprive a child of a genuine creativity boulder: the gift of their own boredom." Boredom - a gift! It's a gift I bestow often to, it must be said, ungrateful recipients. Only now, I need feel no guilt. In fact, I've seen my absolutely, positively bored-out-of-their-minds boys slink off in utter disgust, only to emerge a while later beaming at their latest Lego creation or the made-up game in which they became engrossed.
I'm still in the Environment chapter. But, looking ahead, the Schedules chapter "challenge[s] the notion that "free time" means "free to be filled". Not that I would have any difficulty in this area myself... Nope. Not me. My calendar squares are pristine as
This year, I'm really feeling the awakening, rebirth and new starts of the Spring and Easter season. Simplicity Parenting came to that library holds shelf at just the right moment, as I regroup in trying to have less stuff and fewer commitments for my family *and* for myself. How are you chipping away at the "pillars of 'too much'" this season?
Yours in (aspiring) simplicity,