I first read Simplicity Parenting when I was pregnant with our son and I thought I learned what I needed to from it and moved on to the rather large stack of other parenting books sitting in my office. Flash forward a few years (how has it been a few years already?!?!?! Mind boggling!) and as our son has entered into his toddler years, we have been beginning to encounter new and challenging behaviors. I have a few wonderful mentors that I’ve been able to strongly lean on in this season and all of them recommended I read Simplicity Parenting. So despite having already read it, I scrounged it up from the bottom of the pile next to the full bookcase and dove in…and it was completely different!! Reading his work from the perspective of actually having a child, and not just the future imagination of one, completely changed how the work resonated with me and I learned so much more the second go around. So now I’m happy to share just a few of my biggest takeaways from the awesome book with you! Let’s dive right in!
Doable and Important
“In terms of areas to change I usually see two categories: what is important, and what is doable. What seems the most important is usually not; what is doable is the place to begin. If you do enough that is doable, you will get to the important, and your motivation will be fueled by your success. So often we need to find our way to a goal by identifying what the vision is not. Family is not disparate relationships between individuals and machines, in separate rooms of a house. Childhood is not a race to accumulate all the consumer goods and stresses of adulthood in record time. Simplification signals a change and makes room for transformation. It is a stripping away that invites clarity.”
“If you do enough that is doable, you will get to the important…”
I wanted to pull out this sentence and let us all marinate in its powerful simplicity for a few moments.
I don’t believe for one second that the reason that we’re all struggling with our roles as parents, and everything else that we juggle on a daily basis, is that we don’t know what we need to do. Rather I think it’s that in our current society, we are hyper-aware of what needs to be done but that everything is also given the same priority.
It all needs to be done and it all needs to be now.
Oh yeah, and it all needs to be done by ourselves.
And on top of that, it should most likely be Instagram/Pinterest picture worthy if we’re going to feel like it’s a real success.
When everything is important, in the end nothing is important. And also very little gets done. And we’re stressed out like all heck getting what we do get done, well done.
It’s such a gift to ourselves, and to anyone who interacts with us, to take a step back and just begin with the doable. The important stuff will come. And often when we do what is doable, it is then that we can see what is truly of importance.
Simplification is the process through which we begin to build space into our lives to see what’s manageable, what’s needed, what is in service to our highest good.
“It is a stripping away that invites clarity.”
In our culture of more, more and more, it can be radical to take this step to say “No more, less please.”
It is the precedent we have the power of setting in our homes of gaining clarity for our lives over being entertained through our lives.
“What we ‘see,’ what we bring our attention and presence to, is at the heart of who we are. And for our children, it is at the heart of who they are becoming. Why simplify? Because by simplifying our children’s lives we can remove some of the stresses of too-much and too-fast that obstruct their focus and interfere with an emotional baseline of calm and security. A little grace is needed, after all, for them to develop into the people they’re meant to be, especially in a world that is constantly bombarding them (and us) with the distractions of so many things, so much information, speed, and urgency. These stresses distract from the focus or “task” of childhood: an emerging, developing sense of self.
As parents we also define ourselves by what we bring our attention and presence to. This is easy to forget when daily life feels more like triage. By eliminating some of the clutter in our lives we can concentrate on what we really value, not just what we’re buried under, or deluged with. With simplification we can bring an infusion of inspiration to our daily lives; set a tone that honors our families’ needs before the world’s demands. Allow our hopes for our children to outweigh our fears. Realign our lives with our dreams for our family, and our hope for childhood could and should be.”
In the book Dr Kim John Payne makes the repeated assertion that the purpose of childhood is to develop a sense of Self. (Capitalization mine.)
But in our lives of constant go-go-go all the time, we deprive our children of the chance to even ask the questions they need to in order to discover who they are, let alone the space they need to begin to put into practice the answers that they get from those questions.
I often think we’re in such an all-fired rush all the times because it’s we as adults that feel this lack of self-knowledge so keenly and so we fill the gap with all kinds of “noise”: TV, social media, over working, drinking, over-commitments, competitive behaviors, etc.
We feel so keenly this hurt when we are forced to slow down, whether that’s through a physical illness or simply the vacation we’ve been working towards. Have you ever wondered why we work ourselves to the bone to take a vacation and “relax” and then we schedule and plan out every single moment of the trip so we’re more exhausted when we get back then when we went? It’s crazy!
But that’s the painful truth of our world. We are so uncomfortable being still, because it is in the stillness that we can truly feel the yearnings of our soul.
What a gift it would be to give our children a life that doesn’t need to be run like a rat race or to be escaped from on a continual basis. The path towards a life of full acceptance is built upon a strong foundation of self-knowledge and trust.
This awareness of ourselves as individuals with unique gifts and abilities is built brick by brick in moments of quietness, moments of space.
In our world today this type of environment doesn’t come naturally, it will take intention and practice to keep the hounds of consumerism and comparison at the doors and create these spaces for our families that nourish us in mind, body, and soul.
“Our children come to us with a deep destiny that needs to be honored.”
“There are no great stunts, really. With care, and a bit of luck, there needn’t be. The cape around your shoulders—the heroism of parenting—is well earned and deserved. But the cape is not for flying, or special effects. It is a symbol of heroic consistency. Heroic. Consistent. Simple. Lifelong. Love.”
So much of parenting isn’t very glamorous. And I think it’s one of the travesty’s of our culture that we have that ideal set before us, with glossy magazines and curated social media posts, that even in the midst of our hardships we should “look” put together and “keep up” with life just as before we entered into this great adventure.
My personal experience is that motherhood is messy. It’s not remembering the last time you showered and standing in front of the fridge bleary eyed looking at the random meager offerings it holds trying desperately to figure out just what you’ll put on hungry people’s plates to eat for dinner…an hour late.
The most heroic act we can ever take is to do the unglamorous, the unseen and unrecognized work again and again and again. Day in and day out.
These micro-moments of showing up and doing the work. No matter how small or inconsequential they may seem at the time.
It is these acts that are truly heroic.
You are a hero, dear mama.
Let you never forget that!
Complete Mama's Note at https://heroicmama.wordpress.com/2020/03/02/simplicity-parenting/