Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter One


Are you ready for our book club? The plan, my friends, is this: each week I will give a quick review of the current chapter, interjected or summarized with a bit of my own editorial thoughts.

Then I will turn off my computer and walk away for most or all of the day.

You read, you comment, you say your piece and ask your questions. Talk about your impression of the chapter and discuss with one another the meaning it had for you. Check back every so often. Maybe once a day or a few times a day (depending on your computer habits) and see what is happening in the comments. Chime in to the questions others pose or to the convertsation.

I will participate too, but this is your venue and I don't want to be the sole and dominant voice in this community we are creating here. Does it make sense? Great. Then let's get on with it!


Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne

Chapter One: Why Simplify?

Mr. Payne begins the book with is revelation that many children – leading "normal" western lives – are suffering similar disorders as children living in refugee camps in war-ravaged countries. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, though not commonly identified as such, is prevalent in our society as are other physical, emotional, and mental disorders because of the lifestyle choices we are making for our families. Payne discovered that through simplification – not medication – children experience a marked improvement in their mental and emotional health and move towards wholeness.

Payne encourages our starting point to be simply reconnecting with the visions and dreams we had for our families before our children were born. What did we imagine? That is to be our starting point. To begin to realign our family with the playful, relaxed, joyful vision that we can still recall from our daydreams before children arrived. He asks, "What do you need to move forward, in a way that reclaims your hopes and dreams for your family?" "The dreams," he says "are still very much alive…"

Payne makes the wise observation that children are "overloaded by more than just the physical things bulging out of their closets." Simplification ins for the environment, the family rhythm, the schedule and the intrusion of the adult worries and information. For some of us the stuff will be the easy part. He also also makes the distinction between what is important and what is doable as you determine your starting point towards simplicity.

Payne explores the chemicals at work in the brain and how simplicity gives the brain peace and creates a more fully functional and whole person again. He explains this as a powerful contributor to ADHD and several other (now common) disorders. He shares that by simplification alone (not medication or other intervention) caused a statistically significant number of children in one study (68%)to move from clinically dysfunctional to clinically functional. That is profound. Just by controlling the amount of activities, things, information, and screen-time in a child's life many found their way gracefully to a functional reality.

Payne also says, "…simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter your attention expands and your awareness deepens."


Much of what Payne discussed is not at first glance relevant to my life. Quite simply, we don't live like the average western family. We don't have mountains of toys or piles of books littering our floors or packing our playroom. Our toys are limited, well organized (on the good days anyway), quality playthings. Our schedule is relaxed and we spend far more time "being" than we spend "doing". Heck, we don't even go to school. We are quirky, yes, but we don't have ADHD or ODD or any other alphabet soup of modern childhood disorders. Indeed, we are pretty darn happy with where we stand in relation to what we dreamt our life would look like – we are living our truth on so many levels.

And yet… there is still the amazing amount of stuff I feel buried under. Clothes. Projects. Egg cartons. Coffee mugs. Yes, even toys. Bikes for god's sake. (We are four people. Will someone tell me why we have so darn many bikes?!)

The other day I had the revelation that I brought all of this stuff into my own life. I bought it or accepted it as a gift and I dragged it home and shoved it into my already full world. I own it, literally and figuratively. Time to pony up and clean the shit out. (Pardon me. I'm feeling fired up. And when I'm fired up I sometimes swear. There. Now you know.) I have a deep and concerning feeling of there being just too much – on every level – even for the calm and simple existence we have created here has got to go. I'm ready to move on.

What about you?

Based on the conversations happening on our Facebook page I suspect that many of you are running with the idea of less stuff. I know I am. But as we fill the boxes with unwanted things, what is inspiring you? Why are you here reading this book with us all? What are you seeking to gain? Or… what worries do you have? What feels too big to tackle in this moment? What changes to you imagine may be coming into your family because of the changes you make, inspired by your reading? 

Comment away. I look forward to reading your words.

138 thoughts on “Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter One

  1. Erynne says:

    First, I have to say that this bit was inspired: “The other day I had the revelation that I brought all of this stuff into my own life. I bought it or accepted it as a gift and I dragged it home and shoved it into my already full world. I own it, literally and figuratively. Time to pony up and clean the shit out.”

    I agree 100%; we bring things in one or two at a time, thinking that we need more because we have all the others just like it scattered throughout the house. For example, I recently went through and consolidated our pen box. We had well over 20 ballpoint inkpens, plus several gel pens, some pencils (both mechanical and traditional), and about _8_ permanent markers. WHO NEEDS THAT MANY WRITING UTENSILS!? I put them all into baggies (or shifted them to some other home that needed them) so I wouldn’t feel like “I can never find a pen; I need to get more pens.”

    Sometimes, just consolidating our ‘stuff’ into groups will help us from bringing more and more into the house. When you can see just the sheer ridiculous amount of similar items you have, it’s a lot less tempting to bring ‘one more’ in.

    Right now, having only read chapter one, my push to clean out ‘stuff’ is more about making room for us to LIVE in. How can we wrestle with our toddler on the living room floor if DVDs and books and puzzle pieces and blocks have spilled across the entire walkway? How an we eat a quiet, relaxed meal together if art projects and mail and magazines that we’re going to read ‘eventually’ are colonizing the kitchen table?

    I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do more together, and spend less time picking our way around the gathered ‘stuff’ that doesn’t represent US but rather our weak moments when we bought ‘just one more.’

  2. liz says:

    I was inspired to join up with the book club and conversation, but it’s coming at an awkward time in my life. My family (husband and two little girls) have moved backed to my childhood home to live with my parents for the next couple of months as we finish the process of selling our house and relocate to our new home.

    I strongly believe in simplifying, but most (maybe even all) of the important people in my life (my family and close friends) live a very different way. They are beautiful people with amazing attributes, and many of them have very “simplified” outlooks on life. But…then there’s the stuff.

    I tell people that I’m “allergic to clutter.” Some people can have tons of stuff in there life and it doesn’t seem to “get to them.” But me…I’m allergic. I have a strong, negative reaction to it. I was trying to put it in to words, and it went something like this.

    Stuff creates noise. And it’s always there in the background, like an electronic buzz. Get enough stuff together in one room and the noise can be overwhelming. I find it hard to focus on a task or focus on a person. I’m distracted and irritable. And I’ve come to realize that it’s because of the “stuff” in the room. When my space is uncluttered and clean, the noise is gone, and the source of my frustration (and consequential irritability) is also gone.

    I keep looking ahead to June when I’ll be putting down roots in my own house, with my own rules and my own (very simplified) set of stuff. As I’ve packed, I’ve been completely cut-throat with my belongings. If I don’t love it, need it, use it, and want it, it’s gone. And that goes for everything.

    But for right now, I’m in my parents house, which is overflowing (literally) with stuff of every make and model…and trying to keep the frustration at bay. I’ve tried (I think my whole life) to help people to get organized and get rid of the junk, but most (all) people are very resistant. So I’m trying not to fight those battles right now and just make it through.

  3. Kristy says:

    I have read his book about 5 x already and that was before I became a parent. I am now a parent to a 6 week old and just got done reading the book again. I new to the parenting thing, but I was a nanny for 5 years and can totally understand the whole thing about having too much stuff. Some of the families I have worked for would buy something for their children, just because and usually it was some plastic toy that they would play with for 2 mins and then it would get thrown into the pile. I am currently getting rid of a lot of my stuff as well. I dont have much in my house, but still feel overwhelmed by what I do have. I really enjoy the whole idea of living a simpler existence and really enjoying my child.
    Side note- I am actually going to see Kim John Payne speak at a local Waldorf school next week. Cant wait to see what he will discuss

  4. KC says:

    We to run out side of the typical western family, so I was a little concerned that the book wasn’t going to be as helpful as I was hoping. But then he changed directions a little and got into simplification. What a great chapter. I didn’t think we had all that many toys as they fit all into one box that I had made. But then he got to the books and that’s when it hit me. My 18 month old who can’t even read yet has more books then she can even look at. So reducing began. Now we have one small book box and one basket for toys. She just as happy as before but now has more space to twirl, her newest favorite activity.

    It’s inspired me to keep my spaces clean as well. I try to make sure the kitchen counters are clean after every meal other wise one thing leads to another and another and then we can’t see the counters anymore.

    Your comment Erynne about the pens really made me think more about the multiples in our adult space. Honestly what do we need with that many pens?

    I’m reading this book now because I want to help change our life style in good ways before any problems crop up. For example my daughter at 18 months loves technology. Anything to do with computers or phones she’s right there to play with them. Since I simplified her play space and limited my use of the computer to times when shes not wake she’s gotten much better about playing again.

    I haven’t gotten to the chapter about screen time yet but that’s one of my biggest concerns. So I really look forward to that discussion. We don’t have television but we do have a TV which we use on occasion to watch movies after my daughter goes to bed. We let her watch the Japanese film Ponyo once and now it’s become an obsession that she asks to watch it every day. But I’m slightly off topic. I can’t wait to read what everyone else thinks!

  5. Lori says:

    I’m so excited to begin this group. I have two beautiful children ages 7 and 15 months and before reading chapter 1 our playroom was crammed from wall to wall with every sort of stuff. Now since reading chapter 1 we’ve cut down the toys a ton. Some got thrown out, some got stored to be brought out later. A lot of what we got rid of are the noise making, light blinking, part moving, over stimulating toys – our play room is much more peaceful now. My daughters art supplies were needed through, reduced, organized, and moved to be more accessible to her. I do plan on adding a few things, some colorful materials, play silks, and a few more quality wooden toys for my baby. We are also putting together what we call a “nature box” where we will keep some rocks, thicker sticks, shells and a few other things to being some grounding things ro our play. So we are getting inspired and moving to a more peaceful, clutter free existence. At first I really wasn’t motivated to read this book because the whole thought of all this simplifying seemed to huge, but now that I’ve started we are on a roll. My daughter loves the playroom now – she says there’s not so much to clean up now :). And now there’s room for us all to be in there together without all the stuff all over. The noise from the clutter, yes, I can relate to that.

  6. Brooke says:

    This book group is coming at a perfect time for us! We are moving across many states and packing up has been an eye opener! WE have a huge mound of THINGS in our garage that are to go… and I can’t believe how much we have wasted on all this stuff!!! It really just is cluttering our lives making it difficult to easily transition from play area to area, or bed or meals, or whatever! When we move, we are switching off our cable, limiting the amount of tv our 3 (almost 40 kids watch and ourselves! I personally have “shows” that i tune into every week and simplifying this will mean more time for family!!
    Off subject, sorry!
    Simplifying is a huge deal. It is hard to part with childhood things or things you want your kids to remember (but they never play with the toy!)
    My kids are attached to many stuffed animals, and people seem to think they need more! What?!
    Less is so much better!

  7. Robyn says:

    i really like the idea of simplifying, and started this weekend with my own stuff first, but my concern is what to do about all the stuff other people give my dd. she turns 2 next month, and i just know she is going to get tons of crap that we really dont’ need. so how do the rest of you handle that? we already decided that next year we having a small intimate birthday party, because this year the guest list got a little out of control (we have a large extended family that actually enjoys seeing each other and gets together frequently–plus, we just moved back to our home town after 3 years away, so every one is super excited to have us back and i felt guilty not inviting people who clearly were expecting it.)

    so i guess i have two questions. how do you cut down on the amount of stuff people give your kid, and also cut down on the amount of activities and parties that you go to, without upsetting your whole family? maybe it’s more my own issue. i have a lot of old “catholic guilt” (even though i’m not even a practicing catholic anymore), and i always feel bad not going to so and so’s birthday party, or whatever (and there are LOTS of those in our family). but i know that we (my husband, daughter and I) need to pull away a little. it’s a struggle for me. i know my dd loves being with all her cousins, but sometiems it’s just to much for us. do you all think that’s just something i need to work out on my own, and find the right balance?

  8. Bianca says:

    I know what you mean about other people’s generosity. First of all, you need to be honest about how you feel. You aren’t being ungrateful, just true to yourself/family. Ask for stuff like zoo memberships, and consumables like art supplies. Ask birthday guests to bring a toy to be donated to a charitable organization in place of a gift for your child. Some people will keep giving you stuff regardless of what you say. When this happens it can just quietly make it’s way to the thrift store. Don’t feel guilty about it, you are doing what is best for you and your family and don’t need to justify it to anyone.
    This all may sound a little hardcore but our children have only one childhood and we all just want to do our best to get it right.
    As for too many family engagements I would suggest you attend only the most important events (I realize this may seem like an impossible suggestion) and claim that your child gets overwhelmed by too many events.

  9. Amanda says:

    I read this book a few months ago and truly appreciated its message, as well as your point about ‘owning’ things both literally and figuratively. We do pretty well on toys–a few types for my three kids with diverse interests (playmobil, lego, art supplies, blocks, babies, dollhouse) that come in and out of fashion. A lot of what we play with are ‘real’ things (kitchen supplies, wood, nails, and hammers, rope, etc) that we’d have anyway. My problem is with the books. We, too, homeschool and consider ourselves sort of eclectic classical unschoolers. We have a lot of interests and I use lots of books in what we do. I’m a HEAVY library user, but the public library in Charlotte lacks a number of titles we need and there are things you just *can’t* check out and return after three weeks. They’re well-organized, tidy, etc…but the sheer quantity of them hangs over my head. I’ve purged repeatedly and am pretty much at the minimum for books and games (another big part of our schoolin’), but they’re *there.*

    I guess what I’m getting at is that even if it’s put away, organized, containerized, etc…it’s still there. Still clutter. Still a weight.

  10. Susie says:

    Hello all

    I found this book revelatory on many levels. What spoke to me in Chapter 1 was ‘It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart.’
    I did, as Payne suggested, find clearing the clutter relatively painless. I have always had an allergy to clutter and I am only sentimental about a few small things. I generally live by the mantra that if I haven’t used it, worn it, noticed it, within the last two years – then off to the charity shop it goes.
    But what I need help with is ‘creating space in my life’ for my children. Simplification for me is about letting go of the ‘thought-clutter’ of modern life and letting the littles in to fill that space. I still found chapter one incredibly useful, particularly the thoughts about books. I went the kiddos bookshelf – took anything age-inappropriate or disliked. Then I put away seasonal books. This left us with about ten books on the shelf – what a difference to choosing books at bedtime! It’s been great.
    Best wishes

  11. Lori Beske says:

    I just went through this with my daughters birthday. She had 30 kids at her party (it wasnt at our house but she wanted a big party this year) and i knew she was going to get a ton of stuff (she turned 7) so I told her before we even went that a good amount of her gifts were getting put up on a shelf in my closet for rainy day activities or when she got bored with what she already was playing with (then we will put one or two of her current toys in storage) and when we got home she was allowed to keep out 2 craft kits (she got a lot of art projects in a box, you know what I mean?) and 3 other toys. And to this day, her party was 4 weeks ago, she hasnt asked about the other stuff – its still up in my closet :). So one rainy day i’ll pull out a craft or something for her to do that se will have forgotten about and she’ll be all excited because she forgot she had them (i did this last year as well)

  12. Lori Beske says:

    I totally agree with the “thought clutter” thing and really trying to be present in the moment, rather than – what’s for dinner, what’s after school, what’s after the kids go to bed, what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Yea the stuff part was pretty easy for me but it’s that, being aware, being present and consious and just there. I agree that will be the biggest challange for me as well.

  13. Susie says:

    Hi Lori
    I am really trying to work on ‘mindfulness’ but I find a real struggle. Always there is something else pulling at my attention – like you say ‘what’s for dinner? …how many loads of laundry today? why won’t my boy stop pestering his sister..?’
    It’s reassuring to know that I am not alone in this!

  14. Lynne says:

    Myself, personally, I fall somewhere between Rachel and the Typical Westerner. I’m more in the middle I think. We don’t watch TV. I’m adamant that my son not see a screen at his 9 months of age. I see no value in that. I love Waldorf style toys and education, and I believe less is way more for children, and adults. I was looking forward to beginning this book. The subtitle said something to the effect of “Raising happier, calmer children” and I sighed.

    I am tired of the concept of raising calm children. Everyone, it seems, thinks our children are suppose to be little zombies. I am in no way looking to create a child who is seen and not heard. I feel like the whole western culture it set up to medicate our children into submission. The school systems are truly set up for children to fail. They are pushed along with the masses. Children who excel are held back. Children who struggle are pushed along. Getting 1/30th of the teachers attention is supposed to be enough. And if a child doesn’t melt into this environment and flourish, we can always medicate.

    I take issue with this concept. I really do. It did my heart good to read on. Clearly, the author does not think of calm in the way I did. He means serene, peaceful. And who doesn’t want that for their children? Inner calm.

    I’m really enjoying this so far. I have had the concept of less for some time now, and I regularly request my son not get a ridiculious amount of gifts for holidays. He does not need it. Simply put. None of us do.

    But still, I could stand to par down a little more, and I’m going to. I look forward to the process. I think it will be good for us all. A key concept that hit home for me was the idea that we need to filter the adult world.

    Wow. That was a big one for me. My husband and I follow international news. Always have. Politics. War. Tibet. Tumult. Coups. You name it. We read about it.

    I would definitely have talked to Baby M about world events. About how he won the birth lottery here in North America. How easy life is by comparison. How other people live.

    I see the error in this line of thinking now. These problems are too large to give to a child. They need challenges, but they have to be child sized, and managable. Something a child can conceive of solving. They cannot be handed adult problems, and I can imagine we would have done that. I already feel I am getting valuable lessons from this, and I am merely one chapter in. Did anyone else feel like sharing the world with a child was a good thing?

  15. Lynne says:

    I totally relate. We have a plethora of books. But honestly, I LOVE books. We have a library in our home. A room with mammoth shelves, and a big chaise for curling up and reading. Do we have to get rid of the books in all of this? Eep…

  16. Robyn says:

    LOVE this idea! she’s only turning two, so i’m sure she’ll forget about most of it. i’ll just have to not actually open any boxes at the party. i always feel bad and let her open things right away because it feels mean to have someone give her something and then not let her open it…she just doesn’t understand yet at two about waiting. but, we’ll see how it goes, hopefully she won’t actually want to open the boxes with so many distractions.

  17. Lynne says:

    Great advice. Inspired. Loving the idea of zoo memberships as a gift. That opens up a whole realm of giving and receiving I had not yet considered.

  18. Tammy says:

    I’ve only read one comment so far but you completely sum up my thoughts (thank you Erynne). We moved into our home three years ago and I thought I had purged then – it’s amazing what you think you “have to keep” when you are moving. This past weekend we purged again and I can’t tell you how good it feels. Getting rid of the “stuff” makes room to enjoy the richness of life – that is why I am so in love with this book and blog 🙂

  19. Robyn says:

    I just had an epiphany and its only chapter 1! My two year old has been having a hard time going to sleep (this had always been an issue, but it has slowly been getting worse). She tosses and turns and fidgets and just generally does not seem tired at all, even though it’s 9:00 or later. She seems like she can’t relax. I thought it was just the time change at first, but now I wonder if it is because of all the clutter in our minds and busyness in our evenings. When we all get home from work and daycare, it’s so hectic. Trying to make dinner, play, take a bath, get things set for the next day, etc. Maybe she needs a little less of everything. Maybe she needs to hear less of Mommy and Daddy venting about their days and talking to each other from across the rooms as we try and “get things done”. Maybe she needs more quiet.

  20. liz says:

    This is what I’m going to try to do to help my mom. There are certain “hot button” things that I’m even going to approach with her, but I’m going to try to get her to see how much other stuff she has. I started by going around to four (four!) different closets and gathering up all the bed linens. I then pointed out some things I noticed: the linens with obvious rips or stains in them, the pillowcases without mates, and the sets of sheets for sizes of beds that she no longer has in the house. Happily, she was able to “let go” of these things (though I’m not sure if she’s going to par down any of the remaining linens or not).

  21. liz says:

    Goodwill. It sounds harsh to give away gifts, but I just think of the fact that there’s a child out there that might really need X (toy, t-shirt, book)…and we really don’t need it. If you’re worried about offending people, just realize that they never need to know, and people might get a lot of satisfaction out of just giving the gift.

    I try to reiterate a lot with my relatives that we really don’t want gifts. The grandparents are not exactly on board. They believe that parenting means showering children in stuff…the other tricky thing with us is that a lot of my extended family likes to give gifts (my aunts, uncles, and cousins). It’s harder to communicate with the “distant” family about your family’s philosophy on gifts. But those are great Goodwill candidates.

  22. Laura says:

    My daughter is just 6 months and this would have been my instinct as well – it’s not ever bad to be informed right? But along with the other simplification, I think this one (“filtering the adult world”) is going to be the hardest for me. I love to listen to NPR – it keeps me company all day. I’m not looking forward to turning it off once she old enough to understand. But I will if I need to.

  23. Amanda says:

    See, now, if I had a library instead of floor to ceiling shelves in my basement storeroom then it wouldn’t weigh on me. A place to USE them rather than STORE them.

    And see, I think each person’s ‘burdens’ are their own. We have a LOT of Legos, but they’re used and loved every day so they’re not clutter. They have a place. In another’s home it could be completely different!

    In short, I think context matters!

  24. Amanda says:

    Yes, I think ‘thought-clutter’ is a much bigger issue for me, as well. I think of it as mental space. With all I do and three busy children around me almost 24/7…there just isn’t enough mental space.

  25. Amanda says:

    I agree that we don’t want to grow little zombies, but I also think of ‘calm’ as an opposite of ‘agitated’…that being the sort of universal overwhelm that comes with a continuously overstimulated life. I know that my guy (5) enjoys watching some TV during the day (1-2 shows) and I think that’s not unreasonable at his age. But I see that on days when he watches it in the morning (when his brain is waking up!) vs the afternoon (when he’s worn out and needs a bit of recuperation) his executive function suffers. He has a harder time dealing with everything that’s going on, making choices, and just generally managing himself. He’s also like this when he’s trying to play in his bedroom if it’s a mess. So I guess that’s what I think of when I think “calm”!

  26. susan says:

    I, too, am “allergic” to clutter – it causes almost a pressing feeling on my chest, like I can’t take a deep breath. My problem is that I was never an incredibly organized person to begin with AND we moved when my sensitive, particular, and communicative (thank you, Rachel, for that lovely terminology that fits soooo well) daughter was two months old. My world was already being so rocked by this new little one that unpacking involved stuffing things wherever they fit whenever I had the chance. And in the past three years, I’ve felt almost paralyzed at tackling EVERYTHING.

    But calm and simplicity are a great need for me, and I realize that. And I realize that my daughter is very sensitive to her environment and daily rhythms (or lack thereof). But despite understanding the importance, I’ve had a hard time knowing where to start and how to implement.

    Since Rachel’s first post about simplifying (months ago), I’ve felt inspired to whittle away here and there. I’ve made many trips to the Goodwill. Progress is being made. But since starting this book, I’ve been more motivated than ever to make space.

    We will be moving again in the next two months, which is a great motivator, too! And we’ll be moving into a new chapter of our lives where my husband is done with grad school and we should be able to create more consistency and rhythm. This book could not come at a better time for me.

    My current idea for tackling the stuff in our house is to get a group of boxes and label them – office supplies, “special treasures” to keep, postcards, recipes, craft/art supplies, etc. and then go through every nook and cranny and throw it all into one of the boxes. Then I feel like I can comfortably weed out the excess and organize what remains.

    Thanks for the ideas about how to deal with gift-giving from outsiders. That was going to be one of my questions. We’ve also had some luck in having small parties and telling our invited guests that gifts are not necessary – we just want THEM there. But that doesn’t really work with grandparents and aunts/uncles quite as well, so I appreciate people sharing their suggestions.

    Another question to throw out there – any thoughts on a reluctant spouse? How are you guys getting your partners/spouses on board?

  27. Robyn says:

    We have the same issues with the extended family. I can direct my parents a little more towards things that she actually does need. I like the idea of other kids getting to enjoy the gift if we gave it to goodwill. I’ll have to remember that and think of things a little differently.

  28. Hunter says:

    I’m really enjoying this discussion. I actually just finished moderating a Simplicity Parenting book group for co-op hours at my daughter’s Montessori school. It was very selfish of me really, I wanted the SP support group! Now it’s great to read this here.

    I think that it may be “preaching to the choir” a bit, but the bigger the choir is, the more attention it will get from everyone else. This book is so needed! It’s been a year-long journey of simplifying now, and a continuous process. For my family, it has really changed the way we look at things. Also, it has given me the confidence not to doubt my frequent trips to the Goodwill.

    In response to Robyn, someone in our group asked for each guest to give donations to the World Wildlife Fund in their daughter’s name. I think that she got to pick out a stuffed animal of the one that they’d helped. That was a success. Good luck!

  29. Therese says:

    I just got back from a meditation/mindfulness retreat and I was surprised by how many things overlapped with what I have been reading in the book. There are several examples, but for simplicity’s sake (no pun intended) I’ll just mention one or two. For example; the book talks about making a simple uncluttered space at home for the family to grow in. Mindfulness and meditation create uncluttered space in the mind to grow in. Both in the book and at the retreat, it was mentioned how the brain (amygdala)can get hijacked when stressed. Payne suggests simplifying can help. There have been studies that show that meditation actually helps “re-wire” the brain into the higher functions of thought. Making it less likely for the brain to be hijacked. The synchronicity of having both the book and the retreat bring up a lot of the same stuff makes me think the world is trying to tell me something.

  30. Emily says:

    We also don’t have a huge problem with toys but as a homeschooler I find art supplies an issue. I’m curious to know what other people keep around in this category. I felt the same in the first chapter that a lot might not apply to our pretty slow life…and yet why do I still feel overwhelmed sometimes? I was glad to read of the simple and slow life needed for children as sometimes when I compare my children’s life with others their age I feel like they might be missing out on something. But really this modern normal life hasn’t always been the norm has it?

  31. says:

    I started skimming through some of the comments, and you all have such wonderful things to say!

    I have two kiddos, ages 3 and 1, and I’ve gradually begun simplifying and enriching things a little at a time. I forgot how it started – probably a little over a year ago when I was trying to eat healthily and lose some baby weight. Making small changes for the better makes you want to carry that over to other aspects of your life (a fact that the book points out as a sort of natural progression). I, too, feel “allergic to clutter” as Liz said, and I get edgy and stressed out when things are strewn around all over the house.

    In wanting to be a good wife and mother, keep my family happy and healthy, I’ve been researching things here and there about health, hygiene and diet. We’ve been progressing on our journey into eating more healthy, less-refined foods (aside: I just got Nourishing Traditions from the library, and it’s such an eye-opener – I hope to write about some of my findings here at a later date); but there’s always something that could be changed, tweaked. Let’s face it, no one’s perfect. There’s always room for improvement!

    At such young ages, my kids already have lots of Stuff – mainly given by other people, but also from my desire to provide good, “educational,” “stimulating” things for them. Rachel’s Downsizing Challenge really got to me, and it came at just the right time when I was already thinking something had to be done. It was SO refreshing paring down toys and possessions, not holding on to every single article of clothing “just in case.”

    In chapter one, the correlation Dr. Payne made between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in war-torn countries and the exact same symptoms of children in the Western world was simply staggering, shocking. I will be honest – I find it hard to disagree while not judge at the same time, and I know every situation is relative. I’d probably feel different if I were in another person’s shoes. But when Dr. Payne spoke of ADD, ADHD, etc. and its prevalence in society, I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly that it’s mainly the result of the environment in which we live. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of the negative things we experience – sickness, allergies, “disorders” – are due in large part because of our choices not only as individuals, but as society as a whole. We may take steps – baby steps, big steps, whatever – to make changes here and there, but it’s difficult to change your way of thinking about everything to which you’ve become accustomed.

    I sincerely believe that our instinct to protect our children will be what motivates us to change. For me, that’s so true. In the past, I may have thought this healthy change would be nice, or one day I’d get around to doing thus and so… but it really hits home when you’re striving to make changes for your family, your children. Spending more money on healthy foods is a no-brainer when you’re concerned with the welfare of your children. The more informed you are, the more educated choices you can make as a parent. Once you realize less is more, it gives you the freedom to unload all the Stuff bogging you down – both physically and mentally.

    Children nowadays grow up so quickly, and as Dr. Payne writes, the pace of our daily lives is increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood. In essence, children are losing their childhood. As a mother, this scares the heck out of me. Not only do I want my children to retain their innocence as long as possible and have happy memories; but I want them to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment, one that will help shape them as creative, loving, contributing individuals. Since the outside world is seriously lacking and terribly misguided, it’s my job to create that environment for them.

    This paragraph towards the end of the chapter sums it up nicely:
    Why simplify? The primary reason is that it will provide your child with greater ease and well-being. Islands of being, in the mad torrent of constant doing. With fewer distractions their attention expands, their focus can deepen, and they have more mental and physical space to explore the world in the manner their destiny demands.
    I am being inspired to make these changes for the better both because of the progress I have already seen and in the excitement I feel in anticipation of what the future holds. It feels refreshing, invigorating, freeing, shedding the excess and unwanted, making room for the things that really matter and having the energy to focus on those things. Hoping to homeschool one day definitely has its own impact on my choices as a mother, since I will be with my kids All. The. Time.

    What frightens me the most is not being able to shield my kids no matter how hard I try. There’s always some new study, fads touted as gospel, and if I don’t go along with them I’m a “bad person.” For instance, my pediatrician was taken aback when I told her I stopped giving milk to my children to drink. And people are often surprised that my young children are with me all the time as opposed to being socialized in daycare. The truth often seems hidden behind what the government, Big Business, wants us to know – the truth about refined foods, antibiotics, education, and so forth.

    Susie’s comment resonated with me when she said that “Simplification for me is about letting go of the ‘thought-clutter’ of modern life and letting the littles in to fill that space.” Too often I’m caught up in what I need to get done, cross of my list, that the kids are almost a nuissance when they want my attention. I’m always trying to plan ahead, and while this can be a good thing, it can definitely get in the way of treasuring each moment. This is probably the biggest simplification hurdle for me – the change within.

  32. Lynne says:

    I’m certain you are right. I was relieved to see what the author intended by “calm”, as I had a different connotation with it at first. I really think it’s interesting that the time of day your son watches television affects him differently. You are observant. My little one is only 9 months old, so we aren’t there yet, but I’m definitely going to pay attention to things like this…

  33. Emily says:

    I also have a reluctant spouse and have been passing the book to him as I read. He just doesn’t have the same convictions that I do. Any ideas?

  34. Tiffany says:

    So I went through all the bedrooms and toy rooms last week and got rid of a lot of clutter…a lot of throwing away and some storing in attic/basement. However, I knew that we needed to get rid of more, but I just didn’t know what. So tonight my husband went up to the kids rooms and finished. The girls have a few dolls, doll house, and a couple of stuffed animals and my son has his legos and lincoln logs, as well as a couple of special stuffed animals. We also downsized our books, but still have quite a few out (my excuse is homeschooling and having our books available). We still need to go through our board games, puzzles, etc. And it looks like a trip to Goodwill is our next stop with all the uneccessary clothes and toys.

  35. kendra says:

    i wrote a little blog post ( about how hard it is for my save-the-earth self to get rid of things. i love to upcycle. i love to see possibility. things that can go on to goodwill – fine. but holey socks and felted sweaters…. well, it has been a challenge for me!

    i have been very forthright about gifts from family for the most part, but i also want to be gracious. i had been telling my partner how many unwanted bikes we’ve accumulated from the neighborhood, and he turned down the next offer at our door. but it was the first time that neighbor has ever come to our door too. a wise woman in my life recently told me to accept the gifts offered. but i also don’t want to set precedent as the neighborhood dump!

    i share the book struggle too. love love love books!

  36. Rachel Wolf says:

    The noise analogy is well put. That’s it, isn’t it? All of the stimulation in our lives is noise. We get to choose what we filter out by our wakeful decision making and select only that which pleases us and let the rest go.

  37. Lori says:

    My daughter just turned 7 and I’ve really had to consciously cut down (as much as I personally can, she goes to school and hears things there) on her exposure to the adult world and news related things. I see the little wheels turning in her head and see how they take things so personally – mommy will there be a war hear some day, mommy will our house burn down in a fire (i believe awareness for safety sake is a good thing) – little ones don’t need those kinds of burdens yet.

  38. Lori says:

    Robyn, I even notice in my 15 month old an easier time settling down if we have a more peaceful and relaxed evening.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I agree with a lot that has already been said. There is always “stuff” that gets in and we are trying to be mindful about getting it out. But more than the physical stuff, there is the mental stuff. I am a SAHM to 2 little ones with the intention of homeschooling later. I try and limit the computer to when they are in bed so as to be present with them. The problem I have is letting go of the mental clutter, the “have to do” list, the “oh I must get this done or that started or just one more thing of this done”. I find myself not really present drifting off thinking about what needs to be done as my son is telling me about some adventure his Tiger is on. This, more than the physical clutter is what disrupts me. I am thinking that the organization of home and tangible things will lead to more clutter free mind. I hope so anyway. i am loving the book and have gotten a bit addicted to the purging. Last week, 6 bags of garbage went out.

  40. Rachel Wolf says:

    Laura and Lynne,
    I was completely hooked on NPR before I became a mama. I would listen to it like other people listen to music. All day, every day. And then one day when Sage was 1 1/2 I turned on NPR and heard this phrase, my finger still on the power button: “Three bodies were found beheaded today in Bagdhad…” and I pushed the power button a second time as quickly as I could. I get goosebumps typing this and remembering how I felt and still feel about it. I stared across the kitchen at my little boy wondering “What have I done? I listen to this constantly.” That was in 2003. I have yet to turn on NPR again (or any news) when my children are home. No way.

  41. Lori says:

    Yea, same reluctance here. So far its me doing the simplifying and decluttering. I say do what you can do and run with that.

  42. Rachel Wolf says:

    Robyn, Have you seen Cry Free Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantly? A wonderful book that focuses on a peaceful, predictable, relaxing transition into bedtime. Great stuff in there. We used some concepts with both of our kids.

  43. Lori says:

    Just yesterday I went through my daughters art stach ( she is 7). She had 4 HUGE tubs of art supplies (yep that would be my doing) and I moved them into 3 drawers – each half the size as the tubs. There were a lot of things that we didn’t keep ( daycares are always looking for donated things) so her art stach got cut un half and relocated to a more accessible spot for her. I kept some of everything but who needs 4 gallon bags filled with crayons ? So there’s markers, paints, crayons, play dough, do dads to glue on, sparkly things ect) just less of all of it.

  44. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Emily,
    It is the curse of the crafty-homeschooler, isn’t it? Craft supplies EVERYWHERE. I recently did a ruthless purge of our craft area (seen 1/2 way though, here: ) The children have yet to miss the markers, sketch books, and other supplies that went away. Today I purged the remains of the previous craft collection (what I refer to as the “detritus of childhood”) and created a craft case – a small suitcase with all the random things that we sometimes want: glitter, origami paper, scratch board, googly eyes, pom poms, beads, felt, etc. This will stay in a space away from the regular craft cabinet but will be accessible when inspiration strikes.

  45. Rachel Wolf says:

    I expect the chapter on rhythm will be a great blessings for you. When you hit your groove the mental clutter melts away. On the good days anyway. 😉
    ~ Rachel

  46. Rachel Wolf says:

    This was my today. I AGONIZED over throwing away some sewing needles and tangled thread and all sorts of mixy-matchy beads. I finally got out the vacuum cleaner and closed my eyes and let it go. It is one of my biggest curses – the potential. The treasure. The lost puppy (or canning jar or wool sock…)

  47. Lauren says:

    My son Hayden has watched Ponyo several times and he likes it too. 🙂 I love the breastfeeding mention when Ponyo offers the baby soup haha!

  48. kendra says:

    i have also bribed myself (though i do try not to participate in bribery) as follows:

    go ahead and recycled all of those empty jars you need for storage and buy one case of matching jars.

    the pens are seriously like bunnies though. sheesh!

  49. kendra says:

    this is sort of the bribery thing, buuuut i cleaned out my husbands sock drawer late in the week when he was “out” (even though the drawer was full!), then had him get some nice new ones to replace the 2/3 of the drawer i removed.

    his mother just throws stuff out without even asking, and i think she is onto something. it’s usually not missed.

  50. kendra says:

    i think the stuff often prompts the thoughts for me too – like, oh, gotta clean this, gotta sort that. i’ve started writing down lists, that helps me from the recurring thoughts. it’s on the list!

  51. KC says:

    I do like the film a lot. We actually watch it in Italian as were teaching our daughter speak it. I think it’s one of the few decent films out there for children. I do like the breastfeeding part as well!

  52. Dessi says:

    here is what i did this year- we celebrate my 2 sons’ birthdays together (they are only 4 days apart in Feb.) and I asked my closest friends (we don’t have much family around) to get together and get both boys a trampoline. it was several of them and instead of getting 2 presents each they got together on q trampoline! I also do a “wish” list (which is in reality my list of approved presents) and send it to our immediate family…they know that whatever doesn’t comply (LOL) is either re-gifted or sold or sent to the charity store. And now that my first son is at school i will include “gifts to the school” on my list. we are in a Waldorf school and this is a common practice at the school from what i’ve been told 😉 i am loving it!

  53. Funky Mommy says:

    I think Simplifying is going to be a constant work in progress. Family will always give you unwanted gifts, the mail will keep coming, things will always find their way into your home. It is going to be our action when met with these challenges. The other day at work I saw this large black tray left over from a catering event that I thought would make a great art tray or something for my daughter. I put it aside and then I remembered Chapter one. Less stuff. I left it. So proud of myself. I often take things to recycle, etc. I need to take care of myself and family first and then try to save the world. Looking forward to Chapter two.

  54. Dessi says:

    yes Goodwill and also i don’t feel so bad when i sell my items and then buy what we actually need. we have two amazing second hand kids stores in our town and i usually sell the toys,character clothes, unwanted books and etc. and then buy the boys p.j.s, shoes, jackets…that way i feel that in a way they still use part of the original gift LOL

    another point is that some people put 0 thought when getting gifts…whatever is on sale under $15.00…i don’t want to be un-grateful but some of the toys/books/images out there i not only consider unnecessary but offensive and harmful

  55. Dessi says:

    with 3 boys under 4 years of age, just last year we lived in 3 houses in the US and spent 1 month in SC and 2 1/2 months in Europe…we are now settled but by July I was falling apart mentally and physically. and then i found my solution – i hired a mommy helper for a week straight and worked my butt off but was unpacked in 5 days. just boot camp! oh the pure pleasure of it…and then it was time to pack again…and unpack but i had the boot camp plan and i just got it done…

  56. Dessi says:

    I need to take care of myself and family first and then try to save th world…thank you Funky, you just gave me the green light…i hold on to broken things because i can’t find a way to re-use, up-cycle and i just keep them for ever and ever…i give myself 1 year “free” of environmental gilt for the sake of my family

  57. kari b. says:

    When we were pregnant with my son we sent out a carefully thought-out email to our family members about gift giving. We made it very clear that we wholeheartedly appreciate their love and support but that we have a small space and a simple lifestyle that most toys and gifts don’t fit well into. We laid out some simple suggestions (i.e. rules) for anyone who wanted to purchase a gift – we don’t need clothing sizes beyond one year ahead and nothing that operates with batteries, and handmade if at all possible (which really cuts down on the plastic!). Musical instruments are always welcome, as well as cd’s (not dvd’s). We reminded them that if they felt the need to purchase a lot of gifts for a baby that maybe that money would get more use if it was in a bank account for him to appreciate later in life.
    The request was well received in my family, but not in my husband’s. I had a go-round with my mother-in-law finally and had to really make our wishes clear, basically that our son is very blessed and has all he could ever need and anything extra that he gets WILL go to kids less fortunate. She finally got the point and now sends just a few handmade wooden toys and some clothing each year.
    I really didn’t like the conflict it caused but we have to live with this stuff, we have to sift through it and deal with it, like Rachel said about taking responsibility for the stuff you let into your life…. so it was worth it in the end!

  58. kari b. says:

    We have a serious problem with this too, and we host an art group at the house so it causes even more buildup of supplies. I did finally get everything in one place and organize, but unfortunately didn’t get rid of much, I guess that’s next (but we might be able to use it!! arrg!) It’s very hard to get rid of perfectly good supplies when you are also trying to be thrifty. It’s also hard to remember that two year olds don’t need 64 different colors of crayon 🙂
    I feel like maybe this book discussion will be a great affirmation for those of us who have chosen to slow down already and do feel that sometimes the kids are missing out.

  59. Jessica LeClair says:

    I am SO happy to join this group and learn how to simplify our life! Like many of you, we already don’t have a TON of toys, and struggle with family buying do-dads and gadgets and loud things for our 4 year old and 9 month old. I have started to leave gifts at the grandparents to make a point…

  60. liz says:

    When I was working (I’m home on maternity for a couple more weeks), I’d listen to WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio) before work in the morning and during my prep (I’m a teacher). Now that I’m home, I’m going to have to figure out how to fit the news in. I’m like you Rachel–I would have the radio on all day probably, but now that Shire is becoming more aware of words (as the adults in her life have noticed), I think I’ll have to come up with a new habit.

    On a side note, most of my news comes in the form of The Daily Show and Colbert Report, which my husband and I watch consistently with a beer at the end of the day. It’s news, but a bit of whimsy and it helps us de-stress at the end of the day (while still including some of the important news beats).

  61. liz says:

    We’ve been staying with my parents for about a month now, and we were having trouble with our new baby (not quite 2 months old now). She was exhibiting signs of colic and was just kind of tense and not content.

    My parents have been on vacation for three days…and Freya (the baby) has “lost” her colic. I’m not saying she’s perfect, but the vast majority of the time, she’s calm and content. And I think it’s because I’m setting the pace of the day. I’m more relaxed and calm, I’ve kept the house clean and organized, and (the big difference) I’ve got rid of all the extra noise–turning off the tv, putting the phone off the hook.

    I think babies are a really good mirror for how your life really is. They pick up on tension and distraction and frustration intuitively, kind of like animals. I’m suddenly reminded of Ceasar, the dog whisperer, and how he’s always taking about the “calm assertive” vibe that you need to have as a pet owner. Isn’t that exactly what we should be for our children and family too?

  62. liz says:

    The one thing that has made the biggest difference with my husband was just the overall difference in the way our life runs (and especially how I feel) when we’ve dealt with the clutter. It’s not just instant gratification (though that’s awesome too). Everything just runs a bit smoother.

    It’s become such a part of our lives that he’s now started to notice other people’s clutter, and then he appreciates the way our house feels even more (which is so great to hear…)

    It doesn’t happen right away–it’s kind of a big lifestyle switch. But, it will eventually “click.”

  63. liz says:

    Maybe try doing an art supply rotation. Pack up and label different mediums (clay, paint, chalk, etc) and take one type of art out for a period (a week…or however long the kids are still happily playing with it). Then, take inventory (toss broken or used up items and replace anything that needs to be replaced, or add the item to a running list of “art supplies to be restocked”) and get out a new box.

    I bet that doing this will be more exciting / fresh for the kids as well.

  64. Lisa says:

    I have tried and tried to get through to my generous relatives that the kids do not need anymore new clothes. I have the gift receipts for some of the items, but then that requires finding time to go to the mall to return the items. I tend to buy the kids gently used clothes, with a few new items mixed in when needed.
    I have been very busy simplifying the whole house. Now they have created more work for me. I guess that I will have more items for our garage sale this summer.

  65. Laura says:

    Hi Robyn,

    For my kids’ birthdays (most of them anyway) we pick a charity to donate to and in the invitations let the guests know that if they would like to celebrate our child’s birthday with a gift, please bring a donation to X charity. Then we kind of make it part of the party theme. One year we bought a cow for an African family and had a cow pinata. One year we donated to the smile train (and raised enough money for 2 cleft palate surgeries!) and gave out pictures of our daughter smiling, one year we planted fruit trees for our daughter’s birthday and had people donate to the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, etc. We make big posters with information about the charity to hang up at the party. Some people might think it’s a little odd, but they usually participate anyway. Our kids are still toddlers, but we look forward to having them pick out their own cause to give to on future birthdays.

  66. Laura says:

    I’m so excited about this book and this group and thankful for Rachel for being the conduit for it all for me. Love the comments thus far – am learning lots from you all.

    My main feeling from reading the first chapter, and an issue that I just happening to be working on in my life right now, is that simplification (to me) is about the feeling of abundance. And let me clarify… Sometimes I keep so much stuff because “I might need it later.” What if my child would play with this toy when he’s older? What if this skirt would fit my daughter next year? What if we decide to have another baby? These questions are not aligned with the abundance way of thinking. They are questions that arise out of a “shortage” mindset. And I want to throw out my shortage mindset even more than I want to throw out all this crap. If I have a mindset of abundance, I will realize that if I get pregnant again, the universe will provide everything I need for that baby (just as it has for the last 2), and I will realize that all will be taken care of (my kids’ toy/clothing needs, etc) when the needs arise. I do not need to hoard things and fill cupboards with things until they no longer close “just in case.” Everything we need will be provided as we need it. There is plenty in this universe for all of us to have our needs filled a billion times over. And the real clincher is that by getting rid of all this stuff, I make room for abundance. It almost seems ironic at first glance, but I can feel that thought’s logic in my core immediately when I begin culling those things unnecessary to my family’s immediate needs. I like the lessons I’m learning through the daily uncluttering that is going on right now. The books issue is difficult for me. As I read that part of the chapter I could feel myself thinking – but books our my daughter’s (and my) life, she needs books in mass quantity and variety, etc. I have between 90 – 100 items checked out from our library at any given time (they won’t let me have more than 100 -ha)and I’m realizing that even this needs to stop. Even my library obsession is a bit of a shortage mindset. So I take deep breaths, ask for grace, and begin to simplify. And as I do it, I can feel how these few(er) books on the shelf are making more room for living – living deeply, and more room for abundance. The library is right down the road. If there is a book we need, I can get it with ease. I don’t need to hoard (even) the library books like armgeddon is coming next week. All I need is faith that what we need will be provided and space to really live.

  67. Rachel Wolf says:

    Wow, wow, and wow again. Your entire comment gave me goosbumps right straight through. I had this realization yesterday as I tossed some (perfectly good) things into the trash or the bye-bye box. I dont need them. The universe will provide. Lets release these burdens.


  68. FM says:

    My little boy is almost a year old and I am so glad that I read this book now! It has made me mindful of the things that I bring into our home. I have also put some of his toy and almost all of his noisy toys in his closet. They only get brought into the light when I think that he and I both will be able to enjoy them. Then we put them away so that we aren’t overwhelmed…have you noticed how many toys make noise???

  69. Angie says:

    Hi Robyn,

    Birthdays and holidays are so hard! But we’ve tried a couple of things that seem to have worked. For my daughter’s third birthday last year, we had a small “garden party” and asked the guests (grandparents included) to bring a plant (with yellow flowers–my daughter’s favorite color) for a small garden we dug out just for her. It was great–she got a bunch of beautiful plants for her own garden and she loves to take care of them. Her garden has been buried in snow all winter, but now that spring is here, she’s been out watering her garden each day. We are not big gardeners, by any means, but it’s been fun to get into this with her. Also, as a party favor, we made stepping stones for the children at the party to take home for the own gardens. I love these so much that we’ve decided to make it an annual ritual with our own kids so we can have these to enjoy in our gardens for years to come.

    The other idea we’ve tried for grandparents is to suggest that they give the child an experience. For example, for Christmas, my dad took the girls to see Disney Princesses on Ice (I won’t get into the debate about commercial characters) but the girls loved it and got to spend a special afternoon with their grandpa. (And I got a break for the afternoon–bonus gift for mama!!)

  70. Emmy says:

    We have this problem too. Regardless of how many times we explain our toy/life choices to family they still want to give. What worked out almost perfectly for my daughter’s last birthday was for her to pick out one gift (a farm set) that was pricey and ask everyone to chip in. Most everyone did. So we now have one beautiful really wanted and played with toy instead of 10 that she’d hardly touch.

  71. Marian says:

    Birthday parties and presents in general are tricky! We’re lucky enough to have extended family that are pretty respectful of the kinds of things we prefer (wooden toys, natural fiber clothes, books, etc), but we’re still working on the NUMBER of presents! ONE wooden toy would be great instead of four! We set up college savings accounts for our two kids, and one set of grandparents make contributions there and one or two small gifts on the side. We don’t have tons of extended family so that makes it a little easier.

    My go to gift idea for people is clothes. There’s a limit to how much they need, but they do grow out of stuff and we’ve sometimes requested sizes they can grow into. Sometimes it’s nice to get the splurge clothes items that we don’t necessarily want to/are able to spend money on too (dressy white dress for a two year old…not lots of use for that one, but oh so cute when she does wear it! Nice shirts for boys, etc)

    We recently moved, but where we lived before we were part of a wonderful playgroup with six families…13 kids ages 0-3 between us. There were a lot of birthdays around the same time and everyone did no gift parties. The kids really just wanted to get together and play, eat cake and get goodie bags. It probably helped that the no gift thing was started so early…they really didn’t care!

    Gift ideas for people that insist on giving gifts for me includes…consumables (art and craft supplies, sidewalk chalk, edibles, cute soaps/bath bombs), books (we are avid readers, but we are approaching enough here), clothes (that they can grow into if needed…or just the right size…it has happened that we have had a chance to wear things once or twice before it was donated), experiences (memberships–zoo, museums, or for family member to take them to do something–get ice cream, paddle boats, farm visit).

    Echoing what others are saying too…if people are not willing to listen, and toes are not going to get completely squished (might need to hang on to a ‘family member’ box of toys in the garage that comes out before a certain someone comes to visit)…donate, donate, donate or exchange for something you need. Eventually they might get the message that you really don’t need or want more stuff.

    In the end…it is difficult because people are being generous…but what about generously respecting our wishes for our families?

  72. Marian says:

    I think this is key…USE rather than STORE! I too love books, and we have a fair amount (wish I had a library :-)…), but they are read and used regularly. I just can’t picture narrowing down our kids books to 5-6 books. We read every day. Some times the same few books over and over for a few days, other times, several different ones a day. They are starting to move away from board books so that will naturally cut down quite a bit in not too long.

  73. chloe says:

    My in-laws have a home that is very, very cluttered. We live 1400 miles away from them, so when we visit it is for 1-2 weeks at a time. While I am in their house I always claim one small space as “mine” and “clean.” This is usually my bedside table.
    Having this space gives me just enough breathing room. I have literally sat down cross-legged facing that nightstand and just focused on that one clear 2′ x 2′ space.
    Give yourself permission to have one small space in their home that can be yours. June is not that far away, but you deserve that bit of breathing room until then 🙂

  74. Sommer says:

    I’ve been on a mission to simplify, not just our home, but life many of you, our lives. After years of striving to fill every moment up to live life to the fullest, I realized (when I got pregnant) that the fullness of my life was getting lost in all the business. My baby is now 14 months old and she’s my greatest teacher on simplifying, slowing down, and togetherness.

    Clearing the home clutter, organizing the toys, sorting and picking only what holds our highest vision of life and what we want our child to offer has been my main focus for the last year. Now, with a cleaner home, and less clutter, I’ve noticed how I can say YES to life more. Before, having friends or guests over would stress me out because I’d get into a cleaning frenzy. Now, our home is always clean, and neat… not just reserved for company. Our days are more spacious with less stuff. This feels so good and yet it is a constant struggle right now to maintain. I think that’s from years of being patterned to go for more, more, more. There’s a real inner shift happening in me, the way I think of what’s valuable, what I want to spend time doing, what’s most important in life and how I want to share that with my daughter. This is a big inner paradigm shift! Now our family can spend our time together more doing things we love and enjoy, rather than worrying about getting more, cleaning the mountains of un-loved stuff, etc… Now, this is what I’m talking about! Blogs like this one have kept the inner fire going and have helped illuminate the way to a simple, yet rich life.

  75. Marian says:

    I feel like I’ve been trying to simplify and declutter ever since my husband and I got married five years ago (that’s when things definitely got duplicated). We moved across several states (via Hong Kong so all our stuff was in storage for three months) late last year. I thought I did a pretty good job getting rid of stuff, but I have to admit…we still have about 35 boxes that are not unpacked in the garage (and we moved into our place four months ago!) Granted, some are things that we are temporarily unable to use much in a rented place with no outdoor play area (barbeque, outdoor toys) and things that are rarely used (camping stuff), saving stuff (wedding dress, photos, kids mementos) but the majority are boxes there that need ruthless weeding!

    One of my big clutter things is paper!! How do we end the amount of paper that comes into the house?! I’m still figuring out what needs to be saved, what can be chucked, and how to best organize it. I don’t want the kiddos art to get lost in piles of papers.

    Love what someone said about OWNING our things and taking responsibility for having brought it into our homes. It does make you think if you stand with a great deal/a too-good-to-leave/a must-have and then ask yourself, am I willing to take responsibility for bringing this into my home? Will I actually use it and love it?

    Thanks to all for great inspiration and wonderful ideas! I am so looking forward to the ideas along the rest of this great book!

  76. chloe says:

    There is a great video of Jon Kabat-Zinn on youtubg (I think his own channel?) He basically says, an infant can only be completely present in the moment. Little babies are such accurate barometers of our lives. They can only communicate the things they are aware of–their needs. Tension in our homes or minds or bodies are all picked up by them and magnified in such an incredible way.

  77. Laura says:


    I certainly need to “get there” when it comes to my kids’ art stash. But as I sit here and think of it, I think of my own studio downstairs and how much crap is in it (in not too neat a manner, I might add). My immediate defense beckons, shouting, “But without all these bits of odds and ends, I wouldn’t be able to create gifts/crafts/cards at the drop of a hat or when inspiration calls. I save lots of money with this mess by using creativity before consumption.” One great example of my dilemma: how does one create a mosaic without saving years worth of cracked china and pottery? I know that before I’ll ever see hope in my kids’ craft area, I must deal with my own – using a heavy hand too. Does anyone have advice or encouragement in this regard? Will it really be okay without all these treasured odds and ends that have “potential masterpiece” written all over them?

  78. amy says:

    I really love your “noise” analogy, liz! And I can’t agree more, I have the same “allergy” to clutter. I have a hard time, even, relaxing and focusing at friends’ houses that are too cluttered with toys and other”stuff.” It’s very distracting, and my fingers start itching to tidy up. When I was in grad school I worked in a “contemplative” Montessori classroom as an assistant teacher, and our lead teacher explained how the mind mirrors the environment, and the environment mirrors the mind. Whether chaos or calm, you can take control of your state of mind by taking control of your environment.
    Good luck with your stint at your mother’s house!

  79. Jenifer says:

    I had a similar NPR experience the other day; it was on in the car and there was a similar story. I realized that my 3 year old was really listening to it, not jabbering away as is usual. So, we’ve switched to silence. And, in reality, the removal of that clutter has helped make the afternoons (and early evening) easier.

  80. Jenifer says:

    I share this struggle with you!! Your post and admission is inspiring. It is so hard to throw something away, particularly when its usefulness (even if not to me) is obvious. There has to be a balance between sustainability and simplicity; I guess I’m still searching for it. Perhaps organizing the upcyclables will help?

  81. Amanda says:

    Thanks…it’s all trial and error! He’s so different from his eight year old sister, who hardly gives a thought to TV or computer games, etc. We allow relatively little of it (since we homeschool it could really get out of hand!), but it still has a very apparent effect!

  82. Amanda says:

    We do a LOT of crafts here, and they’re an important part of what we do so I don’t want to downsize them overly. I have them in three categories:
    A couple of bins of things we get out sometimes (extra googly eyes, more pipecleaners, paints, wooden things, feathers, glitter, stamps and stamp pads, playdough and tools).
    Each child has a craft box with some of these supplies (except paint!), papers, a bottle of glue, and a pair of scissors. They are free to get it out whenever they want so long they clean up after. Otherwise it gets a time-out 🙂
    We share the ‘big red bin’ which contains crafty detritus such as toilet paper tubes, cardboard, bottle caps, random interesting bits, juice can lids, some neat corrugated paper I found, interesting small boxes, etc. These are available for use, but only good stuff goes in here. If it gets too full we toss some.
    This works for us since we use it a LOT. It might not be enough for you, or too much. I’d say figure out what you ‘need’ rather than what you ‘covet’ and donate the rest.

  83. Cheryl says:

    So many profound comments, I don’t know where to begin.

    For me like many of you the physical stuff is no problem. Can I get rid of more? Hell yes! Thankful to have this book and group to inspire me to peel away the next layer.

    Limiting the adult world is a new concept for me, a face/palm moment if you will. So I will miss NPR, but my kids wont miss their childhood – I can live with that. I want to brag that this is day 5 of absolutely no screen time for my kids. Wow, I didn’t think that was possible. We made it screen free until my first was almost two but then we got sick and jumped on the slippery slope where one or two Dr Seuss clips on YouTube turned into Bob the Builder marathons. With the arrival of my second I was sure it was the only way to get the baby down for a nap, take a shower, or *insert thing I want done here*. Turns out I was wrong, we have managed just fine. Better yet, it has been easier in a way to not have the constant video requests and have to fight my way around it on and off all day long. We don’t have a TV so it was just a matter of putting the laptops away instead of having them sitting out as a constant reminder of the passive entertainment netflix offers. In the Feed, Play, Love online conference going on right now the author had a session and they discussed how boredom is the edge of creativity. So often in our society we cave into boredom with screens, imagine all the amazing things that would happen if we didn’t??

  84. Therese says:

    We have just started the process of getting rid of some of the toys and stuff in the kids rooms. I am including my kids in most of the process. (ages 6 & 7) They seem pretty ok with it so far, but not completely. My 7yr old daughter is very attached to her huge stash of Littlest Pet Shop toys that she got first from her grandparents, and then from us and others. I joke with my husband that she is already acting like a hoarder. (she can’t stand getting rid of just about anything) She tries to keep all of her artwork, some of the packages the toys came in, and even wrappers that she finds pretty. Any suggestions for me to ease her anxiety of getting rid of these things?

  85. renee says:

    This book and discussion is coming along at a perfect time in my life. With babe #3 getting here in two months, I’ve already been eyeing our house with crazy nesting/organizing/purging instincts. In a way, I’m probably further along in the simplification than I think, as we’ve moved several times in the past few years and are pretty ruthless about weeding. The sheer amount of stuff looks a little sickening once it is all in boxes in one space, and yet we probably have only a fraction of what the avg family of four has.

    Anyway, though I am chomping at the bit to start simplifying the material stuff, I’m going to hold off until my husband and children are out of town for a long weekend at the end of May. Four days to myself to organize, and I doubt that anything will be missed when they return (my children are only 2 and 4, so that makes it a bit easier). I’ll be simplifying the grown-ups stuff too — only fair, right? No need to only concentrate on toys.

    In the meantime, I’ve been really interested in everyone’s discussion of mental clutter. I’ve really been trying to change my computer habits these past few months — after almost all of January with a broken laptop, i realized that I just don’t miss it as much as I thought. We replaced it with an iPad that sits on a counter during the day, so I try to have all my email and Internet usage happen when I’m standing at the counter. That way I don’t sit down, get comfy, and waste an easy chunk of time browsing around. I’ve really limited the blogs I follow and other sites I check regularly. And that alone has done a lot for keeping me “in the moment” with my kids during the day.

    Not much else to add to what has already been said, but I have one quick, fun suggestion: I’m planning on decluttering our out of control crayon stash by melting most of our crayons into big, chunky crayons. Perfect for my 2yo anyway, and there are tons of tutorials online. Sounds like a fun rainy day project.

  86. renee says:

    Therese, my two cents on this would be to pick your battles with the toy simplification. Is there one area of stuff to which your daughter is less attached? If so, I’d start gradually with that. No need for it to be painful. When I start my weeding, I don’t plan on being even-handed with all the stuff. For instance, my son has a truly insane number of Thomas trains and accessories. And yet I won’t be purging a single one. Those are his treasured collection and they all see a lot of playtime. I could probable get rid of every single other toy he owns, and he wouldn’t mind so much, so I’ll concentrate on those.

  87. Julie says:

    I love to upcycle items and I also have hoarding tendencies. not a great mix and I vowed this past year to reign it all in. My solution was to basically get real with myself. I have 2 young kids and we homeschool, I don’t have the creative time I used to have. I no longer allow myself to “save/store” materials if I honestly (the key word) don’t believe I will create the project within the year. I have half a dozen projects I am aching to make with upcyled jeans…I can honestly say I can only get to one of them this year. As much as it pains my hoarding heart, I will not store all the old holey worn out jeans that my family goes through for a jean quilt that I might make 3 years from now. If I have learned anything, it is that I am not the only one keeping this stuff around (and also trying to get rid of)so I figure, for most of these projects I have my heart set on I can call on friends and family to supply what I need when I actually am ready to do it.

  88. Julie says:

    I was raised by a hoarder and it is so hard sometimes for me to get the upperhand on the STUFF in my life because I have always been surrounded by stuff and it becomes white noise, the ghost in the shadows. I don’t want my children to have the same struggles in their adulthood that I have now.
    Sometimes I just get stuck on something, I was cleaning out the laundry room and could not get rid of a plastic tub with a big hole in the bottom. I had been sure for 6 months that it could be utilized somehow but hadn’t the first idea what that would be. After wasting time looking up possiblities on the web (surely someone had a tutorial on how I could make this thing into a cold form or an upcycled cat bed), I handed it to my husband and said “get rid of this for me and spare the details”.
    I have friends who would have pitched that thing within minutes of their kids breaking it…and then there are those of us who see the possiblities. My husband does not form attachments to things in the same way I do and I have found that he is instrumental in helping me get rid of the really agonizing items.

  89. Julie says:

    We also made a point of leaving loud blinky toys at grandma’s house with the explanation “then we will have things to play with when we are here!”. She lives far away and we only can visit there a few times a year, now she gets the kids more mindful gifts which gladly come home with us. I don’t think she liked the idea of the expensive toys sitting in her closet most of the year and she noticed how noisy and repetitive they are when she has to listen to them.

  90. Marlo says:

    I love your comments about the library. We too struggle with too many books and I just can’t get rid of them yet. I do rotate out seasonal books, but still. With the library books, I have found that if I have so many, you know like 60 books, we never have a chance to raed them and delve into them. Since I have cut down on those, we read the books multiple times and my girls enjoy them more. Plus, it is so much easier to actually choose a book, since there are only a few.

  91. Rachel Wolf says:

    Beautiful, Cheryl. We have (fortunately) avoided the screen dilemma as such: Pete was leaving for a trip when Sage was 1 1/2. A friend in an act of helpfulness sent some DVDs. Her son enjoyed them so she thought we needed some too. I was skeptical and it felt discordant to me, but the thought was with Pete away for a week I could at least take a shower once or twice while he was gone. We did a test and I put one DVD in and watched Sage, not the screen. At first he was excited. Hed never seen anything like it. He was signing for all the animals he saw, bouncing, etc. for like… 30 seconds. Then his face dropped and he zoned out. It scared the hell out of me. That DVD was in for less than a minute and we tossed the whole box to goodwill. Weve never looked back. Sage is 8 1/2 and has never watched TV except a football game with my dad. Lupine has not either.

    As an aside, I discussed boredom in this post much in the way you described it:


  92. Lynne says:

    Kari, Good for you!! I think it’s spectacular that, despite the difficulties that followed, you made your thoughts heard and respected. I truly agree with everything you are saying, and I found myself just this morning pondering how I am going to handle the holidays this year. My family won’t be an issue. As we talk all the time, they know about the updates on our already simple plans for Baby M. My husband’s family have no other grandchildren, and want to give him the moon. While the intention is good, the result is not. Thank you for sharing your story.

  93. Lynne says:

    I cannot believe how much I am enjoying these discussions. I am simultaniously eager to start chatting about the second chapter, and dreading the progression, because I already feel I’ll miss this group when it’s done!! This has been so healthy.

  94. liz says:

    I would suggest just “taking the bull by the horns” and doing whatever you can in your own way to get things going. He might absorb a lot of things without even knowing what he’s getting in to. Hopefully you’ll start seeing some positive changes, which might prompt him to ask about the difference. Or not. Who knows!

  95. Melanie says:

    I have to confess I haven’t read the book yet,however I’m about to zoom off to the library website and see if they have it. Too much stuff is a real issue. I already exist in a pretty tidy environment, but I spend alot of time keeping it that way. Constantly putting things away, so less stuff will certainly help free up my time to actually spend with my children, instead of feeling annoyed at the amount of work that lays before me. (I totally relate to the noise description of stuff, thank for putting it into words.)

  96. Melanie says:

    A suggestion for Art pieces of paper is to have a large 3 ring binder for each kid (different color) and then put a bunch of those plastic sleeves that you slide paper in from the top. Put two art papers in each sleeve back to back. Try to limit it to a 2-5 favorite art sheets per month per child and then label each binder. I find it easy to add to it, it looks nice and organized. Plus I can look at it whenever I want to see how his art has progressed, plus he loves looking at “his art binder” too! When that one is full, simply put it into a large plastic bin in storage that is labeled as their “Memory Box”. It’s been working great for me.

  97. Angela says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I try to express to family near and distant about our choices. I think sometimes people equate giving gifts with love or showing the kids they love them because they don’t get to visit that often. Other times people just enjoy giving gifts. I know I do, but I think really hard about what to give and whether the person really wants or needs it. I also worry about hurting people’s feelings too. I have that Catholic guilt also. But, I still say we are paring down. I agree about the experience gifts. The children (we have four) are growing up and really appreciate the memberships and trips. That’s what I wouold suggest. Try to broach the subject carefully and say you’re looking for more experience things for your daughter (zoo trips, a play dough date, heck even a trip to the ice cream store (at least it’s done and over). Regarding activities, that is especially hard and I have absolutely no suggestions for that one! Good luck!

  98. Angela says:

    I am loving this discussion. Right now I struggle with activities. I have four children. Each has one outside activity and that can be a bit dicey. We are definitely going against the grain even with our one activity per child. I see children doing three and more activities and I just get tired thinking about it.
    I am constantly having the “stuff talk” with my kids. They go to school so they see a lot of what other kids have and of course they want it. It feels like an every week battle and I do worry they don’t understand our choices (the kids are six, ten and two).
    I am really struggling with activities though. There are so many birthday parties for one thing.
    Also, it is almost May which is almost worse than December when it comes to activities and programs. My daughter has her annual dance recital on the same day and time my son (who has autism) has a chance to sing with his choir at a baseball game. Already I am stressed and I know parents who have more than that going on that same day.
    It’s a hard balance because I want each child to have something special for themselves. I have a set of twins and they need to separate once in a while. My eldest who has autism needs to be able to participate once in a while too. I just can’t believe how everything seems to get scheduled for the same day. This is a pretty rambling comment, and I think it reflects my feeling so scattered with everything happening at once. It’s very difficult to find that balance especially when schools schedule things so close together or at weird times.
    Thanks for hosting this wonderful series!

  99. Angela says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I really get tired and resentful having to herd and corral stuff. I get twitchy anytime a birthday or a holiday comes up because I know it’s more stuff for me to manage. Ugh.

  100. Zazzy says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your post and everyone’s comments. I just started reading the book this past week, and coincidentally discovered your book club today. Such a wonderful bit of synchronicity.

    One thing that I’ve loved about the book so far, is how much it makes sense to me, and not just to what I’ve observed in my kids. I always thought that maybe there was something a little wrong with me, because I can find myself very irritated and stressed by “too much” around me — radio background noise, a tv that someone else is watching, visual clutter, and sometimes just too many people around. Even though Payne is talking about how this affects our kids, I completely understood, because that’s how *I* feel sometimes. Definitely made me feel normal and validated, and reinforced what I’ve felt intuitively, which is that my kids can get stressed by the same things. The only difference is that I don’t throw a tantrum or burst into tears like my 2- and 4-year-olds do sometimes. At least, I don’t usually… 😉

    One challenge for me will be purging and resisting falling into the same habits of buying too much stuff. Rationally I want to have less and buy less and waste less, but on another level I’ve come to realize that I have emotional spending habits. It’s going to take practice for me to learn to make purchasing and purging decisions without being emotionally involved, because I’ve learned to associate material goods with reward and displays of affection. Even though I didn’t intend to, I catch myself repeating that pattern with my kids from time to time. And of course, that’s all the more reason to change now. I don’t want them to grow up to have the same emotional issues around stuff and spending that I have now!

    Thanks for starting this book club – I’m looking forward to continuing to follow the discussion!

  101. Zazzy says:

    Oh, and I wanted to comment about the books, too. When I was reading the section about too many toys and stuff, I was thinking to myself “Yes, yes, yes…” then he mentioned severely paring down books and it was “no!!”

    I agree with many of the comments here that the idea of just 5 or 6 books on a shelf is just not for us. And I think that’s ok. If you love books, you read them, they are part of the rhythm of your family, and you feel they bring value to your life, then they aren’t meaningless clutter or distractions. I acknowledge that you can have too many, but for us that number is much higher than 5 or 6. I generally feel more relaxed when things are neat and tidy, but I never feel clutter-anxiety at the sight of a pile of books on a table or nightstand, like I might with a pile of dishes or toys. Instead the books just look comfortable and inviting and lived-in to me. Like a pile of pillows with a handmade quilt.

  102. Melanie B. says:

    Just a general question….How much time do you spend with your child? Do you play with them or what do you do when you spend time with them? We are a family of three (one boy who just turned 3) and we have always tried to make time to spend with our little boy, and yes it usually involves some play. The problem is that he seems to want it all the time now and doesn’t want to play by himself too much. He doesn’t have a sibling yet, so is that the problem or do kids go through a stage like this? I have tried going thru his toys and thinning them out, so that maybe he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by “too much stuff” but it hasn’t helped yet. Any suggestions?

  103. Azulitoclaro says:

    Well, I come late… but as I think this will work for us, I write.
    I want to simplify our lives, even though I feel comfortable with the way they are. I would love, for example, to feel free to express our choices to everyone around in order to get some support or, even, to avoid more stuff (those things we don´t want in our lives). Family, for example, may not understand our decision of not to have plastic (toys, mainly)… or I am afraid of express it? Don´t know. It´s hard to want to make some changes feeling you are kind of a ET (althogh for some ones around). The alternative of not saying anything and just taking the stuff away does not work because the fact is I don´t want to increase the plastic (to keep the same example) contaminating everything.
    Any suggestions?
    Thank you in advance.

  104. Robyn says:

    Rachel, yes, i love that book. and it really helped for a while there, but then things got worse around the time change. i think it’s probably just a developmental thing. she’s having temper tantrums here and there also, so i wonder if it’s all connected to her being in that stage where she’s trying to gain some independence. probably should re-visit that book though, it had some great ideas in it. not to jump ahead to chapter two, but some of what i read there has helped the last few days…bringing her closer to me by co-sleeping earlier in the night than we typically do (we usually wait till first wake up to bring her to our bed), just like i would if she was physically ill.

  105. Stephanie O' says:

    This has been exactly what I’ve been thinking as I read this book. Getting rid of the stuff we already have is the easy part(relatively) – getting people to stop giving us crap to begin with is going to be difficult. My mom is the worst. I can’t see her without her giving me something that I don’t really want. It’s her way of expressing love and showing that she cares. And it’s even worse with my daughter who will be one in June. I’m already dreading the waste from the party, but I will look into that link somebody else posted.
    Loving this book and enjoying the discussion!

  106. Rachel Wolf says:

    My mom was visiting for the past three days and her take on it was this: It is very hard to give a gift to someone who doesnt want stuff. And we live in a culture where gifts are normal. We need a list. A written list with sources. So I told her how I would like some wool tights. A really nice kitchen knife. A gift certificate for a massage. Her to hold money for me with my name on it for the land we want to buy. Or for fiddle lessons. For the kids Sage wants to go fishing. Or to take piano lessons. But write it down. That will provide some ease I think.


  107. Zazzy says:

    My sense, based purely on personal experience and sharing stories with other parents, is that how much “dedicated attention” a child needs (or demands as it often feels) depends a lot on both inborn temperament and birth order. My oldest, who is now just turned 4, was extremely ‘needy’ in that sense as a baby and a toddler. He also had intense separation anxiety from 8 months onward, which gradually lessened, but still reappeared from time to time even when he was 2 and 3. When I was home with him for his first year, I found it impossible to make dinner, do laundry, or do anything else that took my attention away from playing or just being with him, because he would vehemently object. But around 2 he slowly started to play independently for short periods of time, and that gradually grew until now he is often off in his own imaginary world, carrying on conversations between his toy cars.

    In contrast, my daughter, who is two years younger, was way more easy going, even as a small baby. She never went through a stage where she freaked if I was out of sight in another room for a few minutes, unlike her brother who did that for MONTHS. Part of it is that her brother was there to distract and entertain her just by doing his own thing, and part of it is probably that she had to learn to wait sometimes, by necessity, when I had to tend to her brother’s more urgent need sometimes. But having seen how different they were even as little newborns, it’s also clear to me that a lot of the difference is simply due to their own nature, and not a result of what I did or didn’t do, etc.

    I think you need to keep trying to find what works best for each child, what you can do to help them feel most secure and thrive. But also be mindful that they are little people with their own inborn personalities and traits, and try to avoid blaming yourself for doing something “wrong” that “made them this way”. On good days we can just accept that the challenging aspects of our kids are simply the way they are, and those traits, while sometimes frustrating, are what make us love them so much.

  108. Melanie B. says:

    A suggestion for Art pieces of paper is to have a large 3 ring binder for each kid (different color) and then put a bunch of those plastic sleeves that you slide paper in from the top. Put two art papers in each sleeve back to back. Try to limit it to a 2-5 favorite art sheets per month per child and then label each binder. I find it easy to add to it, it looks nice and organized. Plus I can look at it whenever I want to see how his art has progressed, plus he loves looking at “his art binder” too! When that one is full, simply put it into a large plastic bin in storage that is labeled as their “Memory Box”. It’s been working great for me.

  109. Emily Krenzke says:

    We homeschool so my kids and I are together ALL day. My son (almost 7) prefers to play near me with frequent check-ins. His twin sister however is content to go off and play (mostly because she can get into trouble better by herself than with supervision) So they play in my vicinity even when we’re not specifically working on projects together. My next son, (almost 2) is just fine playing in the other room as long as he knows where I am. But with the big kids by me then he wants to too. The baby is always next to me in the bouncer or front pack. For instance, while I’m cooking dinner I usually have 4 underfoot just so they are all near me. We bring out a basket of “kitchen toys,” toys that are only brought out while in the kitchen and they all have at it!

    It’s very common that kids want to be near you. Embrace it! Have a special basket of toys that only come out when you’re in that room. I have a bag of toys in my sewing room so when I feel the need to do something fulfilling for me I can do it relatively undisturbed!

  110. Heidi says:

    Wow, what great ideas. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book… my biggest question is how to deal with my addiction to _information_. With easy access to the internet, my addiction can take over my daily life, and I haven’t even begun to figure out a way to ORGANIZE the piles of articles/papers/books etc. Maybe there is a chapter dedicated to this???? I’ve been on a simplicity wave for years, but find it a constant challenge having inherited a “pack rat” gene. 🙂 I’d love to let my little girl, almost 11 months break the clutter cycle.

    I find having grown up with clutter, clutter still seems to be what i gravitate toward, even though I _feel_ better with an empty kitchen table! (usually my empty spaces quickly fill up with paper/magizines/books) 😉 I guess I could look at what needs I think are being met by acquiring all this “info-stuff”. Anyone else dealing with this too? Loved to hear your idears for orginizing… or if you find it easier to just not bring the clutter (info) into your home to begin with????

    p.s. my two absolute fav. books on simplicity are:
    Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston and The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life by Cecile Andrews

  111. Gwenllian says:

    Sorry for being late to this. I am loving the book. Thank you so much for introducing it to me. I have to simplify everything! I have clutter everywhere and it is seriously getting me down. I am only putting it off because it seems like such a huge job, I just need to make time, one room at a time.
    I love so many other ideas on this blog too, thank you!

  112. Melissa says:

    I’m a little late in joining the party, but just finished chapter one and am almost through chapter two. I’ve been so drawn to simplification lately. Decluttering, purging the noise in my life. I think it’s because of the chaos of having my second child in December, working (part time at work, part time from home) and trying to keep an (unrealistic) standard of cleanliness and order in my home when all I really want to be is a good mom to my infant and 3 year old. I want to play, not spend my time chasing the next mess! I’ve already started gutting many of the overstuffed closets and my son’s room. It feels so good, so stress free to walk into his room and not see piles of plastic toys. And ya know what did it for me? He was playing in his sister’s room and I asked why he didn’t like to play in his own. He said ‘because I have too many toys in the way’. That was a wow moment. That day, the toys went (all but a few) and I got online to purchase this book. Since then, we have had so many imaginative moments of play. It’s wonderful. I can’t wait to see what else becomes of this journey of less.

  113. says:

    I have found that when you have three really good pens you stop losing them and always know where they are. If you have 50 you can never find one….

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