Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

I have mentioned the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne with Lisa M. Ross several times in past blogs posts as I have found it to be such an informative, helpful parenting book. I think I have read the whole book all the way through several times, but have continued to use it as a reference ‘reminder’ book looking over particular sections quite regularly. I think each and every chapter has something valuable to offer.

Simplicity Parenting- Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids, is a book that offers lots of inspiration, loads of ideas and practical advice on ways to create a more simpler, family life.

Simplicity Parenting

Book Contents

  1. Why Simplify

“By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood’s slow, essential unfolding of self”

“A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being and resiliency”. 

Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their worlds”.

  • As the families architects we can add a little space and grace, a little less speed and clutter (mental and physical) to our children’s daily lives, striping away many of the unnecessary distracting and overwhelming elements that are scattering our children’s attention and burdening their spirits.

-Simplicity Parenting

This chapter discusses the importance of simplifying, slowing down, making room for play and exploration and creating calm and security in the home.

2. Soul Fever– (physical VS Soul Fever- emotional overload)

Simplification is about stripping away the distractions and clutter (physical and mental) that monopolize our attention and threaten our connection.” 

  • With attention (time) and connection, we can recognise when our child is emotionally overloaded and overwhelmed.
  • Noticing the difference between physical and soul fever, quieting (slowing) everything down, bringing them close (connection) and letting it run it’s course and them making way for a slow, strong return (emotional recovery).

No one gets to skip soul fevers and growing pains in life. In order to learn who they are, and what feels right to them, a child must grapple with emotional upsets”.

-Simplicity Parenting

This chapter focuses on how to recognise and respond when our children are feeling overwhelmed (physically or emotionally) by offering them love, time, security, care and support.

3. The Environment

Children need time to become themselves- through play and social interaction. If you overwhelm a child with stuff- with choices and pseudochoices- before they are ready, they will only know one emotional gesture:” More!

Toys- “A smaller more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement. An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm. 

The Environment- “Too much stimulation causes sensory overload. Adjust the tone and volume not only of sounds, but also smells and light in your home.

-Simplicity Parenting

This section of the book focuses in detail on the child’s bedroom with a focus on how to avoid sensory overload- (scent, lighting, sounds) and what types of toys to keep out and how to organise/rotate the rest. This chapter also discusses social interaction, movement, Art and music, books and clothes.

The aim is to simplify all areas of the home, reduce clutter (curb the excess), reduce overwhelm therefore creating a home that is peaceful (restful to the senses) and calm.

4. Rhythm

Increasing the rhythm of your home life is one of the most powerful ways of simplifying your children’s lives.

Rhythm and ritual is what we aim for; predictability may be what we can achieve.”

  • Children need some level of clarity. They may not be in control of their day, but they need some access to the ‘picture’ the understanding of how it might proceed.
  • With ‘predictability’ a child knows what to expect.
  • Rhythms establish a foundation of cooperation and connection.
  • Rhythm builds islands of consistency and security throughout the day

A bedtime ritual of stories can be a very valuable path of connection and communication.”

-Simplicity Parenting

This section of the book focuses not only on how to increase rhythm and predictability in the home/schedules but also focuses on the importance of family dinners (preparing food and eating together, lighting a candle, giving thanks and unplugging phones), simplifying food/meals for example- Monday is pasta night, Tuesday is rice, Wednesday is soup night so meals are familiar and comforting, more predictable and easier to prepare.

This section of the book also discusses how you can build ‘pressure valves’ (offers security and connection) into your days which intern helps with sleep at night. The effectiveness of story telling as a way to help ease the transition to sleep is also discussed.

5. Schedules

“Too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves. Children need downtime- free, unstructured time to daydream and play. ”

“A child’s love of an activity is not enough to protect him or her from the effects of pursuing it too much, and too soon.”

-Simplicity Parenting

This chapter focuses on how to slow down, do less and give your child the occasional ‘gift of boredom’, allowing lots of time for free play, how to balance crazier days with calmer ones and modelling the importance of downtime (quiet rest time) and balance in daily lives.

6. Filtering Out the Adult World

“It is possible to say ‘No thanks’ to minimize the effects of screens in our homes, at least while our children are young.

  • Television viewing’s combination of neural hyperstimulation and complete physical passivity clearly doesn’t stimulate the brain’s development in the same way that interacting with the world does.

Children feed of their parents emotions- parents need to relax in order to convey ease to their children.”

  • How to feel calmer, safer and less anxious as a parent- maintaining your emotional well-being.
  • Before you say anything (filter), ask yourself- Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary.
  • Talk less, listen more. The more you say, the less you are listening.

-Simplicity Parenting

This chapter focus mostly on how young children are being exposed to ‘too much information’ mostly in the form of screen time and too much information about the ‘adult world’. This chapter discusses how to reduce exposure to media (passive entertainment) by unplugging and becoming more engaged in the real world, how to build a ‘base camp’ of security in the home increasing the sense of peace and calm.

In summary this books focus on these key ideas;

The Four Pillars of ‘too much‘: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too fast? And;

The Four Levels of Simplification;

  • Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter- as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
  • Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
  • Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
  • Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s ‘screen time’ to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation.

For more information and ideas, you can visit the Simplicity Parenting Webpage.


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