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What is Simplicity Parenting?

I’ve been sharing a lot about the Simplicity Parenting model for reducing familial stress. I thought today I would share the basics. The Cliff’s Notes version. What I am sharing is based on the book by Kim John Payne, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend borrowing it from your local library and checking it out more in depth.

I write this stuff because I found something that has improved our home, not because I am trying to push my readers into anything. I am one of those people who finds something that works, I tend to share (or overshare).

So, what is Simplicity Parenting?

In Kim’s book, Simplicity Parenting, he offers easy, effective and logical steps to simplify home life. In other words, he guides readers to living a simpler lifestyle, with more connection and warmth while reducing family stresses. So he provides a blueprint of simplifying major areas of your life to reduce modern chaos.

Why?

I don’t know if you are like me, but life is busy with 3 kids, a husband, and a business. When we have a lot of external pressures and go, go, go it is hard on everyone. The kids get cranky, I get cranky, it is a bad cycle. That is why I am sharing this information, I am the eternal student. I am always troubleshooting and working on reducing stresses so that our family has a good flow.

Changing behavior is not something that magically occurs overnight or after reading a resonating blog post or book. I read a lot, I listen to a lot of helpful information– but the actual changing, the process takes discipline and consistency (and this goes for anything you set out to do).

You can not buy yourself into a simpler or more sustainable lifestyle. You start with what you have and then peel back the layers to remove those things that do not “spark Joy” as Marie Kondo says (or the things that are not truly YOU).

For me, I like a life that feels quiet. When our schedules are chaotic, or our emotional states unbalanced, my home will begin to feel noisy and that is one of my big triggers. A busy, pressured life is often not a conscious life. If you are running on “autopilot” you are often getting the jobs done but are missing out on the beauty of life.

Simple Parenting & Family Life Tips

  1. Learn to say NO. Look at your schedules and start to dial back the commitments. Allow yourself and your child(ren) space for connection and just being together. Not in a car, not in a store, not at a playdate. This can feel lonely or isolating so ease into the transition. Remove 1 or 2 things first, then more.
  2. Purge— This is one of my favorites and is always a work in process. More than purging, take a look at why you buy the items in the first place. What is the “need”? Be more mindful of what you are buying your kids and why. Start reducing what you have by discarding what you don’t like, then the things that are broken, then reduce the items that are not played with, or have already lost their fun. I like simple, open ended toys and just a few of them (like 10 or so).
  3. Rotate and organize— when there is less, this is so easy. I keep a tote and rotate about seasonally. My son loves anything with wheels and has a lot of cars which are hard to part with. He goes through phases of construction, or emergency vehicles, trains, etc. So I just keep a few out that fit in a smaller basket and we rotate. I keep our favorite, most read books on the shelves, the seasonally appropriate ones and then rotate. And with clothing, I keep a reasonable amount of seasonally appropriate clothes that fit in the closets and bureaus. The rest are stored in labeled bins and rotated seasonally. It is so nice to have a spacious closet with just the clothes we are actually wearing.
  4. Plan— this is a biggie. If I plan the next day before bed, things go so much easier. We know what breakfast will be, I set up an activity for the kids to do after breakfast, clothes are laid out and snacks for the next day are prepped. If it is planned, most likely it will happen.
  5. Reduce screen time— I struggle with this one, but life is soooo much better when I put my friggin’ phone down. The kids are better when I’m not trying to photograph their every step too. For me, I am also leading by example for my teenager. He truly feels he “needs” his phone all the time. Take a moment and check your screen stats and see what you can cut back on. How many times do you pick up your phone in a day?
  6. Establish a rhythm— this is so helpful in my family. I have very predictable “blocks” of time in the day which are touch points. This helps ALL of my kids because generally they know what to expect which creates a subconscious feeling of safety and security. We have freedom, I’m not a complete stickler– but generally we have a structure with some spaciousness included.
  7. Get outside— Nature is powerful. It is a great way to connect with the world, notice that we are part of a bigger whole and connect with the subtle changes that occur daily. It is great for kids because they can move their bodies, they can create and imagine without requiring a lot of direction.
  8. Decrease stimulation— beyond purging also notice what you surround yourself with. Are the sights positive and uplifting? Is your home noisy? Could your television be moved or shut into a cabinet for part of the day? Notice what is central to your home and make sure it is pleasing to your senses.
  9. Nurture yourself— find balance. Have time for spirituality (if that’s your thing), exercise, eat well, drink water and decrease stimulating foods– just take care of yourself in the way that feels best to you.
  10. Practice gentle discipline— There are a lot of fantastic resources out there to guide you in your discipline journey. Again, I am going to suggest reading one of Kim John Payne’s books or listening to the Simplicity Parenting Podcast to get an idea of what that means.

That’s the thing I have found along the way– it isn’t always easy to live up to the ideas or vision you have for your family. I have really had to step back and think “what does my child’s world look like” and “what do I want it to look like in the future” to stay on track. It is important to have support, tools and a blueprint to follow that will lead you to where you want to be in life. That goes for anything, not just Simplicity Parenting.

Also, I am always here to provide more tools, support or direction. Feel free to reach out. I want to be accessible, not just a random voice on the internet providing my opinion.

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Mama-Nesting: Tidying Up to Clean out the Mental Junk

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No. I am not referencing Marie Kondo in this post! I am nearly out of my second trimester, it seems time is flying these days. I generally feel ready for Mira’s arrival and I am not stressing about preparations. I haven’t even read a pregnancy book. The weekly growth reminders from my app are all I need.

It is kind of weird to be in this space. Naturally I am a planner, but somehow this pregnancy is letting me go with the flow more than I ever have in my life. I mentioned in a previous post the personal work that is required of me at this time. I wanted to expand on those thoughts a little more.

Identifying the Clutter

When I wrote Integrating the Mama, I identified the types of thoughts that have negatively occupied my mind. This is the first step in healing any type of wound. Identify the problem, know how you react, what the mind does when you think those thoughts, and consiously change your behavior.

Just as you walk through your home (my Marie Kondo insight) and feel if your things spark joy, you do the same with your thoughts. Thoughts are things, and holding on to negativity will create a negative outcome in life. So, if a thought doesn’t spark joy– release it, change it, get rid of it!

Catch 22

Yes, it is easy to say stop thinking “bad” thoughts. Actually doing it is something else. We are creatures of habit. We have been told many things that are not always in alignment with our true nature, and we’ve started to believe it. We have maybe been abused or endured a trauma that has left its mark. Maybe feelings and thoughts around those events creep back in more than we care to admit.

It all becomes a habit. The emotions we are “comfortably uncomfortable” with are easier to dwell on than the joy we can create. Trust me, I speak from experience.

I think the definition of my habitual attitude is “brooder”. Merriam-Webster defines that as someone who worries about everything, lol. I will brood about something that happened 10 years ago and feel nothing will ever be “right” when everything within my grasp IS right. You see quite a catch-22.

Owner/Victim Choice

A few years ago I was pointed to this audio by Steve Chandler. It is totally worth your 30 minutes to listen! He outlines two very different outlooks on life, the choice of being a victim or an owner of life. I was a victim, who had a glimpse of ownership. An owner is someone who sees life as a gift and uses life as an energy source to create what they want for themselves. A victim is someone who is lackluster, feels that life is unfair or a burden.

I was raised by victims. My main influences were people who were defined by their negative circumstances and often blamed their problems on those circumstances. A very common thought in my family was that something bad happened 10, 20, or even more years ago, so today is doomed. This is why my childhood was riddled with addiction.

My parents and grandparents fell victim to their emotional pains, so they would reach for a substance or choose an action to numb those negative feelings. They could not name the thought, claim it, and tame it. I had (and yes, it still sometimes reappears) tendencies to lean toward some of those thought patterns.

Becoming an owner is to recognize it and know that I have complete and total control of how I think and feel. Each and every day it is my choice to wake up and choose to be happy. I believe life is a gift and there is beauty all around, so my to-do list each and every day is how am I going to recognize this beauty and express it to the world around me?

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Weed and Seed

There are many techniques for changing our mental habits. To truly tidy-up the mind you have to make a commitment to yourself to make a mental change.

To begin my “weeding” process I take an inventory of things that I engage with that are either fulfilling or draining. What am I listening to? Who am I spending time with? What am I watching on tv or engaging with on social media? Being aware of what is nourshing points you in the direction of what you need to do more of.

Consciously program in all that’s GOOD. I do this by listening to something inspiring in the morning and reading something positive as I end the day.  I do not spend a lot of time reading rants on the internet or diving too deeply into politics.

Spend time in nature. This is another big one for my well-being. Connecting with nature and taking in the beauty allows my mind to relax and feel expansive rather than constricted. Too many days without doing this exercise can really change my mood, and not for the better.

Surround yourself with a tribe of good people! Just a short coffee break with a friend or a playdate with a wonderful mama is a great way to nourish and keep yourself uplifted. It is easy, especially as a mom of young children, to stay inside and sweep up crumbs. Take time to nourish yourself and your relationships!

These are the tips I use to keep myself in a positive mindset, and something that I am making a habit of during these last months of pregnancy. I am keeping the garden that is my mind clear of the weeds, and planting plenty of good seeds that I can nourish and grow as I move into this next phase of life.