Book Club : Simplicity Parenting Chapter Five
Today I will be summarizing and discussing the fifth chapter of Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting. In a world where childhood seems to be flooded with too much, too fast and too soon Payne helps parents clear the way to a simpler, more connected and whole-hearted family life. After reading this book parents will feel empowered and ready to de-clutter spaces, establish stronger home rhythms, cut down on screen-time and most of all to slow down and prioritize meaningful moments with their children. Most remarkably, the book is truly applicable for all families regardless of their diverse faiths, backgrounds and values. It is completely free from dogma and instead, offers practical and adaptable advice to all.
Chapter Five : Schedules
Too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves.
- Too much control over our children’s schedules and time (for the sake of “getting more out of their childhood) can be detrimental to healthy development. Excess ‘enrichment’ cannot soak in and instead pollutes their well-being.
- Activity without time to “just be” is compared to a being overexerted and used without strong roots – unsustainable.
- Begin by looking at children’s existing schedules and labelling each day with either A for Active or C for Calming. Our goal is to balance out Active days with at least 2 calming ones. If we find that there are many Active days in a child’s daily and monthly schedule we know that we need to prioritize and simplify.
- More than a simple pleasure, anticipation is identity-building. p. 150
- When a child can look forward to something, they make mental pictures of it in advance.
- It doesn’t matter that the reality of the trip is different from these mental images. These images help to create an experience adding layers of meaning and feeling for the child
- Waiting also builds character. It shows them that they have powers equal to the power of their own desires.
- In a world where instant gratitfication is the norm these lessons are of utmost importance.
Seeds of Addiction
- Addictive behaviours grow in this culture of instant gratification.
- You can see the shadow of overscheduling in this definition of addiction given by my colleague Felicitas Vogt: “an increasing and compulsive tendency to avoid pain or boredom and replace inner development with outer stimulation.”
- Without pause they have little chance for inner activities and self-processing.
- Interests – even strong interests and abilities – often burn out when they’re pushed too hard, too fast, too young. The drive toward the exceptional leaves many loves and passions in its wake. Loving something for its own sake – not for its potential in fame, glory, or music scholarships – is far from ordinary. It’s an extraordinary blessing – a strength of character any parent would wish for their child.
- “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” p. 157
Play is self-created and self-motivated and has flexibility and room for interpretation of roles and positions.
- Children make the play up as they go and because they are the creators, the roles and positions of the game serve their individual needs. Alternatively, informal sport the child is given a predetermined position to play which may become even more restrictive.
Children construct their worldviews through play and in this way organized sports can present a ‘packaged world’ of set rules and procedures to very young children
- A lot of unstructured play is a development necessity for kids
Balance is what we’re after in simplifying our family’s schedules. And once we cross our kids’ names off the “Race of Childhood’ sign-up form, time opens right up. Time for rest and creativity to balance activity; time for contemplation and stimulation, moments of calm in busy days, energies conserved and expended; time for free, unscheduled play, for ordinary days, for interests that deepen over time; time for boredom; and time for joy and infinite passion of anticipation.
This chapter is all about letting children be children and not overwhelming them with “enriching” programs, sports and activities. I personally struggle with Mum guilt over this topic. I have four young children and there is just no way that we could all stay sane with multiple activities for each child.
My eldest who is 9 takes guitar and piano (together in the same hour) fortnightly, and his sister and him take riding lessons seasonally. He has not participated in a sports team yet but I feel that is coming soon and I do believe we will stick to a maximum of 2 sports activities a year.
When we lived in Australia there was a lot of pressure to start him into AFL and swimming lessons are a huge cultural norm from a very young age. But all of these activities add up, especially when our children are already in school five days a week.
I know my son absolutely needs the weekends to decompress after a long week at school which is why playdates and sleepovers are kept to a minimum. It’s all about balance and for us it’s also about following the child’s interests as opposed to enrolling them in multiple things because we want them to be well-rounded.