Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter Three.


This was really the chapter you all were waiting for, wasn't it? The Stuff. This is what brought most of us to this book I suspect. It is for me.

Pictured above is my latest clearing out from earlier this week. This one was a spontaneous put-the-kids-to-bed-late-because-I-just-can't-stop-cleaning-my-basement sort of purge. Toys. Clothes. Books. Furniture. Randomness. I filled bag after bag with no end in sight. And there is still more to do.

As I packed up these objects that no longer serve us I realize that much of what I read in this chapter applies to me as well as my children. That was a powerful take-home message for me during chapter three.

We have been striving in ernest to beat back the monster of Too Much for six months or more, since I shared this with you. Yes, we are winning. But there is much more to do. And there in lies my primary attraction to Simplicity Parenting: the concept of less things and more life. For us and for our kids.

So let's dig in with the chapter review, shall we? I expect the comments will be especially lively today so I'll try to keep it short.


 Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne

Chapter Three: Environment

Stuff: Books. Art supplies. Toys. Clothes. Gadgets. Jackets. Shoes. Magazines. Stuffed animals. In Chapter Thee Payne discusses both the quantity and in the case of books and toys the quality of the things we surround our children with. Payne asked us to be conscious of what we are really providing  our children. Our culture tends towards the following misguided choices for our kids:

  • Far too many toys, books, clothes (too many choices)
  • Too many gifts given to the child for any or no reason as a substitute for real connection
  • Closed-ended toys that only do one thing, robbing your child of creativity to create on their own play experience
  • Toys that are supposed to make your child "smarter, brighter, more… insert adjective here"- an erroneous concept from the start
  • Toys that are pre-scripted through movies, television, and other media or commercialization
  • Duplicates of toys, furthering the chaos and lessening the value of each possession
  • Children's rooms that are a nucleus of chaos, an unhealthy place in which to live and grow



I found myself nodding my head and feeling affirmed in the vision I entered parenthood with. No commercial characters. No – or very little – plastic. No batteries. No closed-ended toys. Simple, simple, simple. And yet even my simple has gotten way out of hand.

Inspired by Simplicity Parenting we've been paring down. I shared Lupine's minimalistic room re-do with you last month and decided to take "Before" shots of Sage's room. Even in our less-is-more world we still move towards too much and towards chaos. (See above. I'll share the "After" shots with you soon.)

One of the most brilliant "a-ha!" moments I experienced in Chapter Three was regarding books. After reading it I recently downsized our children's book shelf area from a packed book shelf to one holding less than a dozen books. And it have been wonderful. I suspect books are an emotional touchstone for many of you. Payne argues that creating deep, emotional relationships with the books that we read is far more important than having access to dozens or hundreds of books. I've found this to be deeply true.

We've downsized toys and expanded the "Toy Library" in our basement to contain more than it had before while letting go any and all that we aren't emotionally invested in. We've let go of all clothes that we don't absolutely love. We've done away with any duplicates. (Three pairs of jeans for a girl who wears dresses every day, for example.)

That being said, we still have too much stuff. Too. Much. Stuff. We've been paring down for months and yet Lupine still has seven pairs of tights and five pairs of shoes. Really? Where did these come from? So every week we let a few more things go (or in the case of this week a few hundred) and make room to breathe.

 And so we forge ahead, one room (or closet, or shelf) at a time. We're simplifying the quantity and quality of toys in our lives. We make progress by putting away, giving away, or otherwise move along the bulk of our things. More great toys (or clothes, or books) does not equal more great experiences. The opposite it quite true.


I look forward to your reflection on how this chapter has effected you, your children, and your home. Are you transformed? Confused? Frustrated? I keep reminding myself that I brought it all in. Now I need to take it all out.


59 thoughts on “Simplicity Parenting Book Club, Chapter Three.

  1. Lori says:

    Yes, all the stuff. Even with so much effort I still feel like our house is bursting at the seams. I must say though we have gotten rid of a lot of things. There is space where there wasn’t before (and still clutter) we did cut our book collection in half. And so on we move with getting rid of more.

  2. Cheryl says:

    This chapter was just what I needed. It helped me over a hurdle, the dilemma of what to keep was the thing getting in the way of letting quite a few toys go. I needed a road map and got it with chapter 3. Books?? Oh dear, we hadn’t even considered letting any of them go before. Not even the ones we didn’t like! As the universe has a way of doing, we were given the opportunity to share our overflow with friends and neighbors during a kid stuff exchange (which we quietly slipped out of with lots given and nothing taken). Lots of new or about to be moms, hopefully it helped to break the consumerism cycle.

    So the toys are down to a very manageable size and tucked away in tubs hidden by play silks. We halved our books and then put all but a doz in the basement for swap later. The kids room has stayed so clean it makes me want to cry (ok, maybe not clean but tidy 🙂

    I think I’ve mentioned it here before but as the saying goes we use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. Amazing how the rest stealthily fills up the nooks and crannies until you can’t breath. The basement is the final frontier for us, wish me luck!

    I almost forgot to mention, I realized this week after my husband was gone for a night and it triggered a relapse that my almost 3 year old hasn’t been waking up in the middle of the night since we cut out videos and cleaned up our act. Awesome!

  3. MrsH says:

    I also love this chapter, and how concrete the suggestions are on what to keep/get rid off. I read this book a couple of years ago and didn’t believe about paring down our books. Since then though, I’ve become more and more on board. First I got rid off all the “double-shelved” books cluttering up a few bookcases. Then we made a book basket in the “quiet corner” (behind a couch, with comfy blankets and pillows). The kids LOVE the basket, and it’s easy for me to rotate frequently. Our library books have their own shelf in a different room. The kids each have a few favorites on their night-stands, which rotate naturally: they bring more books in, so as they fill up their stands, I just take some books away! We still have a large shelf of children’s books in the playroom and guess what? It’s the shelf they rarely touch.

    I’ve stopped looking for larger bookcases and bins, and instead when something is full, it means we need to let go of some things. I love it.

  4. Jessica says:

    I love this chapter because of the very clear “To Do” list that it offers. It also help me to clarify to family members what we do/don’t need and why. I wish I could cut and past entire segments into my blog.

    Also, while I am very inspired to get rid of all the STUFF, reading the chapter has left me feeling overwhelmed. There is A LOT to do. And I work full-time. Granted, my hubby is a SAHD, but there is no way that he would sort though all the STUFF.

    I’m going to have to take it, as Rachel said, one shelf at a time. Perhaps one shelf or corner per week. Compared to a lot of other families, we don’t have a lot. But still. It is a lot for our two little ones…

  5. Bianca says:

    I really loved this chapter. I was inspired to be less wishy washy about what goes. The goodwill pile is quite large and another pile will be started as soon as this one is out of the way. The overcrowded bookshelves are practically bare, with a designated shelf just for library books. DD’s room has been much easier to keep tidy. So cathartic!

    BUT, I can’t get my husband on board with the whole idea. He supports the downsizing of clutter and stuff, but refuses to let go his personal stash of too-much-stuff. And he’s got *quite* a stash. Even the argument of “You haven’t used _____ in 5 years! You probably don’t need it.” How do I rephrase this so he won’t feel defensive?

    How have you rallied your partners to join in and enjoy the purge?

  6. Cheryl says:

    YES! I want to stage an intervention with all the gift givers in my family and force them to read at least this chapter, lol!

  7. Martin Family says:

    i really love this topic. my husband and i follow a minimalist approach when it comes to our home. ive always loved frank lloyd wrights idea that the most interesting pieces in a home are the human beings.
    we go through our home about once every three months and give anything we dont need away.its truelly amazing how much you can accumulate! i know i function so much better without clutter and ive noticed that since we raise Dane that way, she’s drawn to order as well. When we go to places that have many toys, she seems over stimulated with no focus.Whereas at home, one item will hold her attention for quite a bit.
    With the books we have, i put them all in a closet and rotate new books in a basket every few weeks. when i bring out the new rotation, its so exciting for her – like getting something new! thanks rachel

  8. jenna says:

    Hmmm, that is a good question Bianca. My Hubby comes from a family that “keeps” and buys more because they can’t ever find what they need when they need it…thus making it more urgent that they keep even more for “next time.” Agh!!
    Kudos for repurposing/reusing for sure…but makes for a tough way to live your life. Stuff is clausterphopic. I’ve focused more on my stuff (every imaginable kitchen gaget & pan for every food…to ONE wooden spoon/ladle, one small pot, one large pot) and my kids’ stuff. Our garage and basement is a constant battle ground. But I try to keep “my” stuff in check. Once he saw me organizing/decluttering our garage he willingly joined in. We didn’t agree on everything (he kept waaay more than I thought necessary, and he felt much of my things didn’t actually need to be in the garage vs. the attic). Maybe also take an Amanda Soule look at things (ala keeping kids’ art work)…perhaps the items he values (with his consent, of course) could maybe be turned into family treasures?? T-shirt quilt anyone? A display of beer coasters?? Just as we have to be sure in our NO PLASTIC frenzy not to toss out our childrens beloved toys so we must make sure to leave room to value our husbands’ attachment to his things. Perhaps over time his views will change. As Flylady(dotcom) says “your home didn’t get like this overnight, don’t expect to see results that quickly.” Also, I think Payne also said in the opening chapters that often when we hurry to fix a problem we are missing the point. Sorry for the long ramble…guess I should have made it a blog post, LOL! 😉

  9. Cassandra says:

    “I’ve stopped looking for larger bookcases and bins, and instead when something is full, it means we need to let go of some things. I love it.”

    Well said!!

  10. Cassandra says:

    Quite a few years ago when I was 25 or so, I had an epiphany inspired by Martha Stewart (of all people). She was talking about how she decided as a younger person that her priority was to have fine things, and that meant she was going to have less things. And that was okay. That really struck a note with me. I made me take a long hard look at my wardrobe. There were so many “cheap” pieces in there because my priority was having something new to wear all the time. I was a25 year old clotheshorse.

    I ruthlessly tossed out shoes, purses, clothes, jewelry, etc. It was awesome. I saved only what I considered “good” and made careful purchases from that point on. To this day, I have never turned back. It has been one of he best decisions I’ve ever made.

    However… I have not employed that same philosophy with everything else in my home. It is curious that I can contain my desire to buy too many clothes for myself, yet I can still manage to “need” every bundt pan I run across, or old albums with wacky covers. My basement is ridiculous. And the children! Crickey! I have managed to spoil them with everything I thought was a “teaching toy” Wow, has this book opened my eyes about that.

    Things are changing at my house. I loved this chapter for the structure it gave me regarding paring down what the children have. I love the guidance it gave me (in our “more is more” society) to give my children less things, and replace it with more of me. The simpler my house becomes, the more time I will have to share with my kids.

    I recently posted about beginning my journey into simplification here in case anyone would be interested:

  11. KC says:

    The book portion was the most enlightening for me. We have very few toys most wooden, none electronic but we have lots of books. I personally am super attched to books and have a hard time parting with them. So I thought I would start with my daughters books because I could see that the number was over whelming her. We had two book boxes in the family room. I downsized to one and she is much happier. Then every few weeks I cycle out some of the books and put one from our stash in there. Now if only I can bear to part with my own books. I always think, this will be great for homeschooling one day.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Here, here!! I feel the same way!! Grandparents buying more stuff just because they can. I actually heard out my mother-in-laws lips, “I like taking them shopping to buy toys because I know it will take a lot of time.” If you read between those obivous lines you can see she really doesn’t want our kids at their house…sad!!

  13. kendra says:

    i think i will need to write a post about this as well. it has been a light in my life that i really needed. letting go of things i don’t love, but felt guilty about, has allowed me to release the guilt. especially relationship guilt – whomever gave me that ‘thing’ is still in my life, even if i get rid of the ‘thing’ i don’t love them any less. and then there’s the mountains of projects-to-be i don’t have time for – letting those go is clearing my artistic vision too i think.

    i’ve been focusing more on my things more and not my husband’s and my kid’s because i have a-plenty to do. trying to lead by example (but i have downsized some toys by stealth, and asked my husband to go through things). it’s amazing what an emotional process it can be.

    i loved (and for some reason really needed) the permission to say ‘no media characters in our house.’ so i was really grateful for that too.

  14. kendra says:

    i also fully relate to a ‘lack’ mentality. and releasing things has been instrumental in letting go of feelings of lack (what if i might need it someday?). someday never comes, and if it does most things are easily attainable.

  15. amy says:

    I’m constantly tossing things into the misc. goodwill bag, and also keep a bag always going of toys, clothes, and books to consign/donate. I really, really dislike plastic, toys made in China and/or requiring batteries, so those are already at a minimum in our home. I also simply cannot function in cluttered space, and as a stay at home mom, preparing to start homeschooling (they’re still quite young), we spend a lot of time at home. I’m always looking around with an eye to downsize; Simplifying is kind of my hobby. Amazing, isn’t it, how this process can just keep going and going… will there ever be a point when I’ve given away EVERYTHING we don’t need, and have only the minimum of “stuff” that is useful, loved and beautiful? What a day that will be! 🙂 This chapter inspired me to be more hardcore about letting go of more of my sons’ toys, especially the ones I really don’t like, but feel obligated to keep b/c of the love they were given with… I gave myself permission to get rid of all toys in that category that are not loved and played with by my boys. Whew! What a breath of fresh air that brought into our home!

  16. Emily says:

    It seems like no matter how many times I clear out it slowly creeps back in so I think it is a constant battle but one well worth continuing. The thing I.hate the most is the stuffed animals the grandparents always get and my kids seem to remember them all! My daughter still asks about some I’ve gotten rid of which makes me feel guilty but I don’t think its necessary to sleep with 15 stuffies in 1 bed!

  17. Jody says:

    I’m not reading along but just reading through your summary posts are helpful. I am continually downsizing too…I find it takes so much constant effort. SO MUCH STUFF finds its way into our home!

    I must confess that as homeschoolers I am having a hard time with the books…

  18. Melanie B. says:

    Well, this has been a pretty interesting discussion thus far. I have to say that I am resisting the book reduction. I am not saying we have a crazy amount, but we certainly don’t have a handful out at one time. I sit down with my son daily ( sometimes twice a day) to read about 5-8 books in one go. He really likes it and has learned so many words, etc from this experience. I can’t imagine having only a handful of books at one time to access. Plus I read a book by Mem Fox “Reading Aloud to your Kids” and she recommended have a good variety of books available to your child, so they can have the opportunity to choose something that interests them at the time, which in turn helps their love of books and reading. So confusing….what to think?

    Any suggestions of ideal backyard toys or playthings? I have been considering a small wooden playhouse for my son, but wasn’t sure if this was categorized in the closed type toy. To me, it is open ended play, in that he can imitate/act out real life in various ways with the house.

    Any suggestions about where to store your toy library or book library if you are short on space in your basement. We just don’t have a large storage area, and don’t like to store much in our garage. I have currently been storing things in his closet, but it is neat and tidy for the most part.

    I watched a show called “Neat” once and she suggested that with kids toys, you find the perfect number of toys you are happy having in your home, and any time they get a gift or buy something new, for every item that comes in, an item goes out. The kids could be involved with the decision as long as this rule is a standing rule. It makes them evaluate their items more closely and let go of things that no longer hold their interest. Worth a try.

  19. Katie says:

    I loved this chapter (and love the discussion). The part that most resonated with me is that toys that “make your child [smarter], [better], …” are NOT necessary. I know that, and I detest toys that purportedly help your child read, write, etc… However, I have to admit, as my babe has grown and as pressure from family and friends has increased, I have found my resolve slipping. I have gone from zero electronic, plastic, character, and/or closed-ended toys to… maybe a book that reads to her won’t kill her … the plastic toys if from Grandma (and we’ve thrown away all of Grandma’s other toys), maybe we should keep it… and what if I am depriving her of something she needs by not giving her a toy cell phone? Ridiculous!

    This chapter strengthened by resolve. We have shared with family members guidelines we use if they wish to give our daughter a toy for a special occasion. If they choose not to do that, then out goes the toy! I refuse to feel guilty for the money they wasted in purchasing it.

    I also refuse to feel guilty for not buying into advertisers claims that if I don’t give my daughter an electronic book she will never learn to read or that I am somehow depriving her.

    That being said, I worry about some friction between my family and extended family. They have already expressed hurt at their gifts being donated. Has anyone had any success in communicating their wishes to extended family and friends? Any successful strategies?

  20. Scotti Erickson says:

    First of all, I am enjoying your blog very much. Your lifestyle is far more free than mine, but I find that I can relate in many areas: unschooling, crafting, healthy eating, nature loving, garden growing…

    I would also like to thank you for the link to the Almond Cookie recipe and blog. I have struggled with finding a bread recipe that my kids can eat and that I too enjoy and the treats are delish. I have even lost a few pounds using Elana’s Pantry recipes.

    Finally, the book. I am loving the book. I am not much of a comment poster, so this will most likely be my last. However, I wanted to let you know that my children are much more at peace since we began the simplification process. The fighting is less. The tantrums are fewer. The one thing that I have truly appreciated from this process is the ‘gift of boredom.’ I was constantly trying to keep my children busy and engaged. I would feel guilty if they spent an hour in their room in ‘imaginary play’ and I had not checked in on them or played with them. This book/process has truly decreased my ‘parenting duties.’ Also, I do not feel guilty about tackling some of my own projects. I am currently on my second read of the book and am able to conceptualize even more or the process. And it is a process. Even when I think I have simplified one area, I return a few days, or weeks, later to simplify further. So, thank you. I will continue to lurk. (I hope that is okay).

  21. Lynne says:

    “I’ve stopped looking for larger bookcases and bins, and instead when something is full, it means we need to let go of some things. I love it.”

    You said it! This could have been an epiphany for me!!

  22. Lynne says:

    Books. Ah books. I get it. I have a love affair with books. I cannot imagine parting with them. We have a shelf in Baby M’s room full of books, and the ones we are currently reading (and rereading!) are in the living room to enjoy. But as for me, I have a room devoted to books. I’m not ready to get rid of mine yet either. I really adore books. I’m glad I’m not alone of this issue.

    As for an outdoor playhouse, that is so not closed ended in my mind. His list of “to keep” toys include dwellings. Granted, he probably meant doll houses or farms or the like, I think this is the same idea. A play house is a school, and a house and a store and a farm and a fort and a castle and a… well you get the idea.

  23. Lynne says:

    I so enjoyed the list of ‘good’ toys provided in this chapter. It acts as a sort of guideline and I intend to share this guideline with my extended family. I wonder if I will find myself offending people by requesting that should they feel a gift is in order for it to follow our lifestyle. I found this chapter reaffirmed a lot of feelings I already had about toys, which left me nodding in agreement regularly. But having it in black and white like that makes me feel it will be easier to express this to grand parents who are in love with plastic toys and character toys. I’m continuing the decluttering daily. Like Rachel, it’s been one shelf at a time. It feels good, doesn’t it? And I find I am letting things go more freely now than ever.

    I loved this book. I intend to read it annually while raising my babies.

  24. Deborah says:

    About Homeschooling and Books –
    I think it is important to remember that Payne is writing for a broad audience. This includes many families where both parents are working outside the home and the children go to school during the day. At school, these children and their teachers hopefully have a wealth of age-appropriate books and other learning materials attractively arranged and ready for use in the classroom. Having been in this classroom environment for a good portion of the day, the children probably do not need a large collection of books at home. They need an environment that is safe and soothing, a sanctuary of sorts to come home to.
    Homeschooling families need to strike more of a delicate balance. Yes, we do need our homes to be simple and soothing, especially since we spend so much time in them! At the same time, we do need to have resources available to help our children meet their educational goals. Library books are a wonderful resource, but we may need to supplement as well.
    That being said, my children do not have any books stored in their rooms. We have some on a shelf in storage, and the rest arranged on low shelves in our homeschool room/office. We also keep a basket of library books in the living room where we actually do most of our reading.

  25. MrsH says:

    We just joined our local zoo, courtesy of my parents. Wouldn’t that take more time than going shopping? My kids definitely do better being “out” than being in a non-kid-friendly home, so in a way I can relate to what your MIL is saying. But… shopping? Time for some new ideas, good luck!

  26. Karen C says:

    This is my first time commenting about the book, but have enjoyed the discussions. This chapter really hit home for me. We just finished our basement, and it was FULL of stuff. I have been going through it, which has been a very emotional process for me. I came across things I saved from my childhood, and even though I don’t need any of it any more (or even want it), it still hurt to get rid of it. It didn’t take long for the hurt to be replaced with relief that there wasn’t so much clutter. We just had a huge garage sale, and I am so glad it is all gone. I will continue to go through my stuff and get rid of things I don’t need/use anymore.
    My plan is to get through both my kids’ rooms this week while they are still in school to purge all the unnecessary toys, books, etc. They both agreed that it would be easier to keep their rooms (and the whole house) clean with less things to keep put away. We’ll see how they react to my purge. (They are 8 and 6)
    A major area of concern for me is my daughter’s stuffed animals. She has so many of them, and that is all she wants anymore. How do I know which ones to get rid of when she loves them all? I’m afraid to let her decide because of course, she will want to keep all of them. How many is enough?
    One thing I realized after reading this chapter is how much of a profound effect all the clutter has on me. I strive for order and tidiness, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to instill that in my children (or my husband). Living in constant clutter always has me on edge, and it is taking its toll on everyone. I never realized that could be the source of my feelings, but now I know what needs to be done. I can’t wait to get rid of everything so I can actually breathe!

  27. Melanie B. says:

    Anyone else find it difficult to find friends locally who share a similar value about simplicity and slower pace of life? It would be so nice to meet some families who shared the same thoughts to help encourage each other. It is sometimes daunting. My friends are taking there kids to this class and that, and early pre-school, this latest learning gadget that teaches your child to read without you actually having to read to them, etc…and sometimes I get caught up in that line of thinking, and I have to stop and remind myself it’s all too fast and too much (both for my son and I.) So far I have managed, but am not looking forward to the pressures when he starts school.

  28. Melanie B. says:

    Lynne: Thanks for the knowledge that I am not the only book lover! :o) I had forgotten about the list containing “dwellings”, so that is helpful to me. Thanks.

  29. says:

    The process of simplifying – although overwhelming at first when faced with how much Stuff we really have – leads to a more peaceful environment. The concept of less is more was the foundation of this chapter. With less, there is more room for creativity, space, interest, imagination, and time. The author gave specific ideas for how to tackle different areas and posessions within the home, whittling them down and optimizing the remains.

    I have consigned and donated many of the kids’ toys, and the house feels so much lighter, airier, with fewer things to fight over, trip on, and clean up. I feel more clear on my direction for their upbringing – what kinds of toys they play with, book they read, activities they enjoy, even foods they eat…

    (

  30. Sheridan says:

    This chapter was SO helpful as I started simplifying my home. I started with my 3rd son’s bedroom as he had gathered boy toys from his 2 oldest brothers.

    You can see my pictures here.

    I did this 6 months ago and have since done smaller decluttering. The rotating of toys has really helped and I know not the things he has never asked for. I guess this week it would be easy to get rid of those toys, which are in boxes in his closet.

  31. Angela says:

    I am loving the book itself but having a hard time purging our books. My daughters don’t store books in their room. My eldest has a lot of books in his room. He has autism and has said he did not want rid of the bookshelf. I think I’ll ask again. Also for the middle son, I will cull an reduce the twelve or so books in his room. I think we’ll keep a library. We have a lot of “quality” books. Books are so precious to me, and our library often doesn’t have what we want. However, I am also getting rid of character books that have snuck in, duplicates and books we (well I) don’t like and the kids haven’t shown much interest in lately. It’s still a hard task for me since I may homeschool in the future and we have a wide age range of children in the house.
    I totally get the gift thing. I have concluded that people maybe give too much stuff in the first place. Many times I can’t find something that we already own that I want to toss to make room for the new thing. I just want to toss the new thing. Experiences and memberships are the way to go I think!
    I do admire those of you who can purge your books.

  32. Julie says:

    I totally agree!! We are so very fortunate that we buy very little of anything including clothes, shoes, socks, undies etc. for my four kids. I don’t want to sound ungrateful to the gift givers, but how do I tell them to either buy one or two “good gifts” as opposed to lots of junky gifts just so that they have lots to open. Easter is even like Chirstmas here (well almost) with all of the gifts they get. We are having a garage sale next weekend and they didn’t even open some of the stuff, the just put it in the garage sale pile! How sad is that?

  33. Julie says:

    It seems that every kid in the neighborhood is very busy with their extracirricular activities as well as their siblings! We are to, but the difference is most families in our neighborhood have only 2 kids each. We have 4. And while my kids are only allowed, one sport/activity each per season, the other kids are so involved in multiple activities that we literally don’t see some of them outside to play for months. This is no exaggeration! I had always told my husband that with 4 kids, one activity is all they are allowed per season. Otherwise, mom (me) will be going crazy!! Not only that, it would be way beyond our budget if they were involved in more than one activity!
    I do have to say that I did feel occasionally, that our kids were missing out,but yet I knew deep down that that wasn’t so, but one does begin to feel that way when most kids are so heavily involved in so many activities.

  34. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Scotti,
    Thank you for emerging to comment today. Yes, the boredom is huge. I touched on it in a post a long time ago and was pleased to see it in the book as well. Im happy to hear that life is spiraling upward as you simplify your experience!

    Many blessings,

  35. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Katie,
    Ive been working on this one for some time. Last year I tried to do a blog post on it but gave up. Because it is hard! Maybe I should try again…

  36. Rachel Wolf says:

    One thing I picked up along the way is the concept of bringing the story to life and allowing it to be absorbed by the child. There are times that we read more than one book at a go, but usually just one at a time. Then the child can live in the energy that that story created before bouncing into another space. Just a thought. A friend borrowed a favorite chapter book from us and told me We are savoring this book. Only one chapter a day. Then drawing pictures from the story and talking about what happened. I love this idea. Of taking it simply and slowly, one book/chapter/thing at a time.

    As for a playhouse, the more simple the better. Boards and logs are wonderful playthings as kids can create whatever they wish from them: fences, walls, pirate ships, teeter-totters, etc. There are two books I strongly recommend you add to your library (gasp! more books!). Both are linked below. They are favorites and will change your family forever.


  37. Emily Krenzke says:

    We have enjoyed cleaning out and I see definite improvement in the kids behaviors too. I agree with a previous writer about the “writing for a large audience.” While I do believe that simplifying is great, the guidelines here are just that. They are not magic potions that once you achieve this many toys or books your life will be happy.

    Each one of us needs to take this individually. If you love books, then keep the ones you love! I feel the point is to be surrounded with only the things you love and fit your lifestyle. We homeschool so we naturally have more stuff than someone whose house is empty all day. That’s ok with me as long as we have a place for it and we love it.

    I once knew a woman who would get rid of stuff in the name of simplifying and then turn around again and buy it at full price because she needed it for her next project. Hobbies are good, they keep your brain active. Keep the stuff for your hobbies! Get rid of the things you don’t like, love or need. Our goal is not to look all the same, rather our goal is to balance. We all balance at different points.

    Now I wish we we could do away with mandatory gift giving days, wouldn’t that help?!

  38. chloe says:

    to echo the others, “…we need to let go of some things” — I love it!

    I could not stop this quote from reverberating in my mind as I read, “Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts” -Thoreau

    That was the summation of this chapter for me– sell your things but keep your thoughts. Even just ridding our home of a little bit of clutter has made a huge difference in my energy level and ability to focus; I’ve truly seen the impact in my ability to ‘keep my thoughts’

  39. chloe says:

    My husband was raised in a home where more was more and clutter was the status quo. I could not handle it. (Six years later I still sweep my MIL’s house before I can relax there!)

    I honestly left my husband’s things out of the equation for a long, long time. I explained to him that it was hard for me to focus on finishing a task/project with all the other things competing for my attention. I told him that was a personal thing *for me.* And then, as I organized and purged corner by corner I did my best to keep all of his things there, so long as they belonged. And things that didn’t belong went in a tote bag or box that he could sort through.
    The deal was, he could keep it ALL. I had NO say in what stayed or left. However, no tools in my sewing storage cabinet, no computer parts on the dining table, etc. I did my best to accommodate his things but ultimately he was responsible for finding a place to keep them.
    We have had A LOT of things in the attic in the past few years, but every once in a while I see some of his things in our goodwill basket (we keep a basket or paper bag in the entry of the house at all times for give-aways and once it’s full I take it to the goodwill drop off on my weekly errands)

  40. chloe says:

    I was a voracious reader when I was a child, too. One comment my husband recently had about my reading habits was that I just powered through books instead of enjoying them. What I took away from the ‘fewer books’ idea was that by having a lot of books I could be perpetuating that in my house.
    I want books to be savored and enjoyed and appreciated, not consumed quickly like any other media. Perhaps having a smaller selection of books would inspire diving deeper into them for your kiddo?

  41. Jenifer says:

    Thanks for sharing your approach to dealing with your husband’s clutter. I struggle with this, too, as I am embracing the desire to get rid of things (and really always have) in a more significant way than he is. He wants to hang on to those old high school notebooks and the toy boat he played with as a child and that concert t-shirt from 1989. Your point that it is his stuff and that this purge is “for me” is a great reminder that I can only evoke change in myself. I love you you’ve made it his responsibility to organize the things. I like the “no tools in my sewing storage cabinet, no computer parts on the dining table, etc.” I’m going to apply this to our situation; I do think it will help. Thanks!!

  42. liz says:

    I’ve been kind of wondering what to do about my girl’s (eventually girls’) room. The house that we’re moving to doesn’t have a good dedicated “play space” (the basement will be eventually, but right now it’s unfinished). Our 2 year old will be moving in to a large room (15X10) that will eventually be a bedroom for both girls.

    I really want to keep her bedroom simple and non-stimulating, but I’m torn because the room is going to have to double as one of her “play spaces” (they’ll also have a very small selection of toys available on rotation in the main living space downstairs) and therefore primary play storage space. So what do I do?

    In a couple of years (when both girls are in the bedroom and in twin beds), we’ll have a finished basement family room, which will be official play room / play storage area. But what should I do now?

    I’m especially concerned because we have to move Shire (our almost 2 year old) out of her crib once we get to the new house so that her sister Freya (almost 3 months old) can sleep there. I know the transition to getting her to sleep in a bed will be a lot harder if there’s a lot of “stuff” going on in her room….


  43. Angela says:

    Perfection! I love your take on simplifying. They are great guidelines but we all have to make the guidelines suit our individual family’s need.

  44. Melanie B. says:

    Thank you Emily. You made my outlook about wanting to keep more books than suggested a little brighter. That is exactly what I agree with – balance for each is individual and personal. Puts it into perspective. :o)

  45. says:

    My 3-year-old has few toys in her rooms – just a dollhouse and a dress-up trunk, in addition to some stuffed animals. The 1-year-old’s room doubles as the “playroom,” and we also keep some things in baskets and on shelves in the living room (since that’s where we congregate). I don’t think you need a separate room dedicated toys – that may just encourage you to fill it up! If you decide there’s enough space in your daughter’s large bedroom, you could always dedicate some closet or shelf space, but try to make it inconspicuous so it’s not overwhelming. You could get a folding screen, hang a curtain, or even use a bookshelf to separate part of the room from a play area.

  46. Jenny says:

    I struggled with letting go of some of the kid’s stuffed animals. When I went to purge their pile it seemed as though they were attached to all of them. It was very hard to choose the ones that they wouldn’t miss.

  47. susan says:

    I don’t know that I have much to add that hasn’t already been said, but I thought I’d mention another book that I read recently. It’s kind of mainstream, but “Unstuff Your Life” by Andrew Mellen gives some very practical, action-oriented instructions on how to purge and organize. It seemed to be a surprisingly good complement to the thoughts and suggestions in Simplicity Parenting. I especially found the info on purging and organizing paperwork helpful, since that’s something I struggle with.

  48. Lynne says:

    A goodwill basket in the entry way at all times is a fantastic idea! I’ll definitely be stealing this one! Thanks for the thought!

  49. MelanieB says:

    Can you give us some suggestions from the book that you found helpful, incase I don’t get time to read the book? Any tip is always helpful. Thanks.

  50. susan says:

    The author is very big on “One Home for Everything and Like with Like.” It sounds simple enough, but I know for me, the “homes” I create for things are not always practical and often create a cluttered space (e.g., the digital camera that resides on the kitchen counter). After exploring a bit of the psychological aspects/effects of our clutter habits, the book actually spends an entire chapter on creating new homes and habits for keys, purse/wallet, cell phone. And then it helps you create a process, home, and habit for sorting mail (so you stop ending up with piles on your kitchen table or random places around the house). Then it goes through a bunch of rooms/areas around the house and proactively guides you through sorting and reorganizing each room. He talks about the emotional aspects of why we hold onto certain things and how to think through those feelings to let go of the things we don’t use or love. I think I’m giving you more of a book summary than a collection of tips, but the only tip I can really summarize is the “One [logical] Home for Everything and Like with Like.” The author does have a download online of what paperwork to keep and for how long that I found helpful:

    Sorry to hijack the Simplicity Parenting comments with discussion of a different book, but I really felt like it provided some practical implementation strategies that complimented Simplicity Parenting.

  51. Amber says:

    Hello 🙂

    I’m loving your blog. And I am going to request my library orders the book because it’s right where my mind is at. (oh, and i want to make the Chai!)

    I also just wanted to mention my favorite inspiration on the topic of simplification at the moment – Bea from The Zero Waste Home. Amazing. I can only recommend that you take a look at her blog if you haven’t already 🙂

    Peace. x

  52. Nancy says:

    Love all the comments. It hit home that I don’t have to hold on to everything just in case I might need it one day. I have lots of clothes from before I was a SAHM & keep them (now for almost 5 yrs) for when I go back to work (which won’t be for another 5 yrs or so).
    Also hard for me to throw things away or donate when I usually try to sell (which is a huge time commitment).

    Was on vacation last week and purposely took only books and markers/paper for the kids. It was SO amazing how everyone’s attitude changed. I didn’t have to harp on them to clean up & there was much less fighting over toys.

    My next hurdle is the “multiple” toys- for us it is trains. Those may have to be the last to go, or perhaps just in storage in the attic.

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