Simplicity Parenting: Reducing Parent and Child Stress

A guide to a simpler way of parenting intrigues our green mama

Many months ago my friend Jessica Walsh, who owns Illuminated Baby in Woodstock, told me about these lectures she’d been listening to on Simplicity Parenting. As she explained what she learned, I got really excited. I love a good parenting theory, but this one in particular appeals to me because it seems to offer a remedy for me and Coraline’s greatest afflictions — transitions, material stuff, and connecting. The man behind the movement is Kim John Payne, M.Ed, founder of The Center for Social Sustainability and author of several books, including Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. In order to reduce parent and child stress and promote connection and relaxation, Payne offers a plan to “simplify four realms at home”: environment (i.e. de-cluttering), scheduling (i.e. streamlining hectic days and leaving unstructured time for play), unplugging (i.e. reducing media and consumerism exposure), and rhythm (i.e. “introducing more predictable rhythms”). Doing so reportedly helps kids flourish emotionally, socially, and academically, and helps parents reclaim some shred of sanity.

I’ve been tackling the four realms of our home — significantly limiting Coraline’s screen time; de-cluttering every nook and cranny and reorganizing rooms to better facilitate her imaginative and creative play; attempting to totally coordinate my work schedule with her school schedule; and learning to leave the computer off and phone on silent. I have to say, there’s a noticeable change in our interactions and the rhythm of our days — there’s more connection, more creativity, more satisfaction out of our time together. I dig it.

If all this sounds like just what you need, you’re in luck; Certified Simplicity Parenting Group Leader Meredith Johnson, M.S., MHC-LP leads an introductory workshop at Fiber Flame in Saugerties on Tuesday, January 29 (6:30-8 p.m.; $15). Go forth and simplify! Then tell me all about it.

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