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.