Simplicity Parenting: Environment and Rhythm (Ch 3&4)

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Environment and rhythm are the foundations of simplification I feel after reading these two chapters. Without a simplified environment you cannot feel at peace or that “home sweet home” feeling in your heart and home. Without rhythm you cannot seem to ground yourself for the day. Our children feel this as well. There are numerous selections of toys and books in every store they go to now and with the holidays approaching, the stores and commercials are pushing our children’s desires to an even greater height. But with the holiday season arriving, think of the environment in which toys and books go into. Is the room/living room already full of both? If so, is it time to go through them so that you can keep the treasurers and donate/sell the rest? Every few months in my house when my daughter was younger we would go through her toys/books and donate those that she hadn’t played with during the year very much.  She had a say in this process and I believe that led to her feeling empowered to “let it go.” This allowed for her room/living room to become less cluttered and her imagination to take hold. I started this when she was about 4-years old and at age 9 she started initiating these cleanups herself because she felt “it was out of control”. This is what Kim John Payne is talking about with environment, the power of less opens up the door to more.

In chapter 3, with the environment, there are guidelines to help you go through that toy pile/books and understand what you are supposed to do with it. How your supposed to move it from a huge pile to that of a organized, less cluttered system in which you still get to hold onto the treasured toys. In reference to this, he wrote on page 68: “As you simplify, you allow children to pour their attention, and themselves, into what they are doing. When they’re not overwhelmed with so many toys, kids can more full engage with the ones that they have. And when the toy is simpler, children can bring more of themselves to that engagement. There is freedom with less: freedom to attend, engage, and absorb. Toys that don’t do things can become anything in play. When we don’t try to fill children’s minds and toy chests with prefabricated examples of “imagination,” they have more freedom to forge their own, to bring their own ideas into play.” Very well said! If we set their environment up with simplification that allows them the freedom to explore in their play, their social interactions, and the world around them.

Chapter 4 was on rhythm and I loved this chapter. I am by nature a rhythmic person so I understood the need that he mentions in his book for having a rhythm. What was interesting though, was his definition of rhythm because he’s not talking about schedules for the day. He’s talking about consistency, rituals, meal times, sleep, predictability, etc. As  he states on page 98: “By surrounding a young child with a sense of rhythm and ritual, you can help them order their physical, emotional, and intellectual view of the world. As little ones come to understand, with regularity, that “this is what we do,” they feel solid earth under their feet, a platform for growth. Such a stable foundation can facilitate their mapmaking: the connectedness that they are charting in their brains, in relation to other people, in in their emerging worldview.” For predictability, providing your child a preview of the next day the day before in a calm setting. Rhythms, a set point of rituals to the day such as times that you brush your teeth, have your family dinner, etc. The importance of family dinner being a grounding force even if it is only a couple times a week with your adolescent children.

There was so much more he wrote about that I just couldn’t possibly capture in a blog post for both chapters.If you’re reading along, how did you feel about chapters 3 & 4? Did you miss the teleseminar with Kim John Payne? If so, you can purchase the recording here.

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Author: Stephanie Petters

Stephanie Petters is an API Leader and the Coordinator of the API Reads program through Attachment Parenting International. She and her husband and their daughter live near Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

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