Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne, M.Ed., with Lisa M. Ross
Kansas Dad asked me to read this book after he received it from inter-library loan.
This book is an argument for simpler lives - less stuff, fewer activities, more regular daily rhythms, and protecting our children from growing up too fast. In general, it promotes spending more time with each other as a family without distractions. I doubt many people would argue against family time, but the truth is we often feel compelled to spend our time in a variety of ways and don't always consider our goals when doing so.
There's not really much new in this book, but I think it's a powerful one in bringing it all together. Some of it is a little too touchy-feely (especially for Kansas Dad). It's can get a little repetitive. The most difficult part of the book was the extremely tiny print; it was seriously hard to read at times.
I did like reading it, though, as it renewed our desire to create in our home a quiet place where children can consider life and engage in deep play. With that freshly in mind, Kansas Dad and I have been spending some time thinning our shelves of toys and (gasp) books. (We had so many that were torn and not of lasting value. I'm also seriously considering breaking the remaining books into groups to be brought out in cycles, but hampered by a lack of storage space.)
I've also been watching Second Son closely recently. I've seen him pull out buckets of toys and simply line them up without actually playing with them. There's an example in the book of a young girl who did the same thing until her parents thinned her toys and in so doing released her from her impulse to sort over and over again. I think Second Son is at a phase in his life where sorting is playing but I think he might be satisfied with less to sort.
I was also pleased to see the rhythms of daily life given such importance. We have many rituals here. Our Sunday pancakes, weekly lunches with grandparents, and evening prayers can seem constricting at times. Many of the thoughts of these authors confirmed my own beliefs that these rituals are deeply important to our children, that they provide a foundation of love and support from which much more is possible. Evening prayers in particular can seem like such a hassle for so little return, degenerating into tears and arguments more often than I would possibly have believed, but I think our commitment to the daily ritual shows the children not just our faith and our firm belief that God will hear and respond to our needs rather than some elusive perfection in the act of family prayer (and our lack of attaining it) but also our trust in their own growth and improvement in the attempts.
For those that are having difficulty articulating a desire to reduce (toys, books, activities), this book could be very useful. Those that find themselves sliding back into previous habits might also find it helpful.