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(Much of this post is taken from materials provided by the Simplicity Parenting training, led by Kim John Payne and Davina Muse.)
When Marissa invited me to do a guest post with tips for simplifying with a young child, I thought “Hmm, that could be great! …but hmm.“
As a Waldorf teacher I can think of tips that I used in the classroom, and some that I developed to work with specific children’s needs. Just the other day a friend and I laughed about one that we’ve heard can also work with adults: let’s call it the doubly-exaggerated story. When someone has a habit of telling tall tales, but isn’t ready to acknowledge it, try responding with an embellishment that’s twice as silly as the first. A sense of humor can help break the ice and show that having the “best" story isn’t to be taken too seriously.
But as a Simplicity Parenting coach, the truth is I am used to thinking more about the fundamentals. If Simplicity Parenting is getting back to basics, then it makes sense that the thought process behind it is basic too. It’s really about parents connecting to their own inner wisdom about what brings family joy. It offers a pathway to simplifying in four realms at home, which reduces stress on children and their caregivers, and allows room for connection, creativity, and relaxation, all of which lead to an easier day to day life!
“Simplicity Parenting is really about parents connecting to their own inner wisdom about what brings family joy.”
1.Environment: Decluttering too much stuff at home.
Has your toddler already accumulated 50 toys or more? This is not uncommon. A mom in my workshop recently told me that she cleared out half of the toys from her toddlers’ room and he didn’t even notice. She did though! It felt so good to her that she planned to cut it down by half again soon.
2. Rhythm: Increasing predictability in a family’s day, week and year.
Children can relax when they feel that their family has a pulse; some steady beat to connect to and rely on. Every family dances this rhythm differently, but a situation without any predictability is frightening to children and can bring out extreme behaviors. To strengthen your family rhythm, try doing the same activities before bed like a story, bathroom time, a song, and a goodnight kiss. You could also sing a song or give thanks before a meal. Even using polite speech like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ helps children feel the comfort of predictability.
3. Scheduling: Bringing balance to a child’s life to allow for moments of “being” into all the "doing".
Some children are highly scheduled these days. If your child is highly scheduled and acting out, reducing their active time can help them find more peace, especially if this time is then spent connecting to the family and/or to nature. Parents in my workshop recently shared ‘golden moments’, a precious memory of joyful family life. All of them were connected to nature! Giving children time in nature (appropriately dressed for the weather) often brings them joy and allows them to get out extra energy. Indoor time can then be more relaxed and easy.
4. Filtering Out: Reducing the influence of adult concerns, media and consumerism on children and families to increase resiliency as well as social and emotional intelligence.
We know that even toddlers understand much of what they hear, and what they don’t understand logically, they still take in emotionally. Protecting our young ones from unnecessary negativity or emotional tension supports their growing sense of a beautiful and safe world around them, which they rely on to develop trust and emotional connection. This positive connection with us and with the world is the foundation of an easier parenting day, or of getting through a rough day with less struggle.
Parents who take steps along this pathway to simplify their homes and their schedules, to introduce more predictable rhythms, and to filter out concerns which children are not yet able to cope with, find that their children:
- Are calmer and happier
- Do better socially and emotionally
- Are more focused at school
- Find it easier to comply with family rules
- Become less picky eaters
These parents also find that they themselves:
- Have a clearer picture of what they value as parents
- Are more united with each other in their parenting
- Have more time and energy for connection, relaxation and fun
Simplicity Parenting Groups
The group experience is:
- Based on the book, Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
- Now available in Olympia, Wa, led by me, Fehlya Ehrlander, Certified Simplicity Parenting Group Leader
- 4-14 participants, 7 sessions over 14 weeks
- An effective blend of support, learning, discussion and integration
- Supporting sustainable simplifying self-selected change
- Enhancing loving connection at home
- Uniting parents in the shared endeavor of parenting
- Exploring how to connect your parenting style and skills with your values
I first read Simplicity Parenting when I was a Waldorf teacher, but rereading it as a new parent inspired me to become a trained workshop leader so that I could share this inspiration with other families. Like any work of art, families need inspiration, fresh infusions of hope, and imagination. I am honored to be working with families to build more rewarding lives for themselves and their children at home. If you have a group who would like to take up this work, or if you would like to join one of the workshops I host, contact me at 360 485-2439 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also see my Simplicity Parenting coach profile at www.simplicityparenting.com (Help for Parents, Groups for Parents, Locate an SP Coach).
Fehlya (pronounced Fay-Leah) has worked with parents and children to uncover the benefits and joys of simplified childhood. As a teacher at the Olympia Waldorf School, she saw the value of nurturing children’s imaginative lives by filtering out the clutter of the adult world that can often get in the way. She saw how basic daily rhythms can give children (and parents) room to breathe, and let children grow in security at their own pace.
Learn more about Fehlya and Simplicity Parenting by visiting her website.