Friday, January 11, 2013

Simplicity Parenting

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately.  My girls have gone from being kids that wanted to stay home and sew, read and make videos to kids that want to do EVERYTHING they hear about.  Art classes, pottery classes, multiple choirs, basketball, co-op, etc.  We would have multiple places to be every day of the week if they had their way.  But I can't keep up with that.  I need solid days at home to run errands, catch up with laundry, do housework and make sure they keep up with math and history and all that good stuff.  But, I feel guilty saying no.  What if I say no to the thing that ignites a spark in them?  What if that spark is never ignited?

One of my favorite bloggers is Sarah at Clover Lane.  Sarah is all about keeping things simple and organized.  I have been struggling with that for years.  I did well when the girls were small, but as they got older I just kept adding things until I felt like I was juggling too many balls and struggling just to keep up.  Sarah was the reason that last year I made a conscious decision to simplify and stop a lot of things and pare us down to just the things we really enjoy WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY.  So, when Sarah recommended this book, I ran and bought it!

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross is possibly my favorite book on parenting.  The authors remind parents that they are the architects of their children's day--that statement right there makes me breathe a little deeper; what kind of day do I want? a chaotic, rushed, harried day or a day where we can really focus on what we love to do?.  The authors encourage parents to pare clothes and toys down to the necessary, less clutter equals more space to think and be -- I have been working on that since last year and still have a LONG way to go.  The authors discourage battery-operated toys and encourage parents to limit screen time to force children to use their brains.  The authors make an excellent point on not over-scheduling our kids, allowing them time to be bored so they can learn to entertain themselves.  The authors feel that our society, with its pressures of "too much" is causing our children to be stressed and overwhelmed and unable to relax.  Relaxation doesn't mean lazy, it just means giving the body and the mind rest to recover; relaxation can actually make the mind and body work better in the long term.

I have always felt that we are over-scheduling kids these days.  I think kids need time to just be.  They will have the rest of their lives to work every day.  They need free-time to explore.  Who knows what passion may be ignited in that free exploration time?  Who knows what they may discover?  Who knows what they will create as a result of being bored?  I know many times my girls will say they are bored and then create furniture for their American Girl dolls out of shoeboxes and drinking straws or sew purses out of scraps of fabric.  I think those activities are worthwhile.  What if by not having time to explore a spark is not ignited?  I am going to guard time at home and not feel bad.  I need two solid days with no plans each week.  They need that time to explore.  We can find an art class once basketball is over; we can do pottery in the summer after the spring art class is over.

"You are a child.  You deserve a childhood.
If you are not going to guard that, then I will,"
Kate Hudson in "Raising Helen"