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Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club
BOOK CLUB,  BOOKS,  INTENTION,  MOTHER CULTURE,  PARENTING

Simplicity Parenting Book Club – Introduction & Chapter One

Welcome to the first week of our Simplicity Parenting book club! This week will be be chatting about the introduction and chapter 1, here’s the schedule for the rest of the book:

September 12 – chapters 2 & 3
September 19 – chapters 4 & 5
September 26 – chapter 6 & epilogue

This book was a re-read for me. I believe I read it for the first time about four years ago. What I really enjoy about the book is how practical and straight forward it is. The idea of simplicity parenting is not a hard one to grasp but it can be a difficult one to actually follow through on.

While this book is (to my knowledge) not written by Christians and I think it is the kind of book that Christians and non-Christians alike can learn from. I actually think a lot of the ideas in the book are very biblical; Jesus himself had hardly any possessions and one of my favorite parables is when he tells the rich, young ruler to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. Obviously your heart and motives have a lot to do with it but I think this book can be a great reality check for a lot of parents.

 

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HOW THIS BOOK CLUB WORKS

I am going to share some of my thoughts on these chapters and ask a few questions throughout the post, I would love it if you would leave your thoughts and responses in the comment section below. It would work even better if you can make sure to come back and see if others have replied to your thoughts as well, let’s keep the discussion going! There is also the option to subscribe to comments so you can be sure to get emails when others comment on this post and your comment.

We are all learning and growing as parents so let’s remember to be respectful of others on this journey. Disagreeing with someone is fine but let’s keep things polite, don’t post a comment you wouldn’t say out loud in front of other people.

 

INTRODUCTION

The introduction was pretty short but there were a few things that stuck out to me this chapter . . .

First of all the statistic that said “children have lost more than twelve hours of free time a week in the past two decades.” This stat came from David Elkind’s book, The Power of Play, I tried to find the exact stats that shared exactly how much free time children had two decades ago and how much they have now but I couldn’t find any definite numbers.

 

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Since I couldn’t find any specific numbers I started thinking about how much free time my children have. Right away I see that we are at a huge advantage in this area because we homeschool. While many school children around us spend 30-60 minutes a day on the bus and then six hours at school my children complete all their school work in less than two hours, already giving them the advantage of at least four extra hours each day, and if I’m honest, most days those extra hours are spent in free play.

I thought this line from the introduction sums up the entire book very well:

Simplification is often about “doing” less, and trusting more. Trusting that -if they have the time and security- children will explore their worlds in the way, and at a pace, that works best for them. – page XIII

We have become a culture that over-parents our children and a huge part of simplicity parenting is taking a step back, saying no to many things (even good things) so that our children have space to be children.

 

QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION

  1. How many hours do you children spend in free time each week? How could you increase this number?
  2. Any other thoughts on the introduction?

 

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CHAPTER ONE – WHY SIMPLIFY

There has been this amazing phenomena of more in the last 10-15 years. I think it came on us so slowly that many of us didn’t even see it coming (and many don’t even know it is here). If you think back to your childhood chances are you had a lot more than your parents did when they were young, but compare what you had to what your children have now, I’m guessing for most of us we would have to admit our children have more.

The thing is, it’s fun to give. More is fun, until it’s not . . .

There is a big part of me that wishes I could play the more game. I wish I could want a huge, perfect house and a brand new vehicle, a camper with regular trips to the lake. I wish I wanted all the clothes and to look perfect all the time. But honestly, I don’t.

We started to play the more game shortly after we were married. We started out as broke newlyweds with my husband fresh out of college in a low paying job and me in university full time. We lived in a house trailer that leaked in the spring and the furnace broke in the winter. And when the house shifted in the winter the front door would become so jammed it was next to impossible to open the door. The floor in the bathroom was obviously rotting under the linoleum because the toilet was crooked and it always felt like you were going to fall through.

We started at what I would call pretty near the bottom. We lived month to month as we struggled to afford our tiny mortgage but over the next few years Jared got a better job and I finished university and started working. All of a sudden the money was coming in! We sold that trashy trailer and moved into something bigger and better. And it wasn’t long before we wanted something better than that.

Once you start playing the more game it doesn’t stop unless you make it.

And I’m ready to stop it.

 

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Reasons I want to simplify:

  • to give more
  • to travel more
  • to be intentional with my time and money
  • to be intentional with motherhood during this season
  • to have more of less

When you simplify a child’s “world”, you prepare the way for positive change and growth. This preparatory work is especially important now because our world is characterized by too much stuff. We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed. – page 5

I am excited to change life so it is no longer built on the “four pillars of too much”. I’ve been working on these for the past few years and have come a long way but still feel like I have farther to go.

The pillar of “too much speed” is not usually a problem for me. I’m an introvert and know it so I intentionally build a lot of white space into my week. Sure, there are the odd weeks where it seems like everything is happening at the same time (holidays are usually the worst) but it helps knowing those aren’t long seasons.

 

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LET’S TALK TOYS

Before having children I did not realize that toys would be such an issue. By “such an issue” I mean, keeping them to a minimum! It seems nearly every place we go gives out toys these days: the dentist, the grocery story, the restaurant, and those are just on regular days, never mind what happens when a child has a birthday or it’s Christmas!

I actually have a post on here from last year where I did an experiment where I took my kids’ toys away. It was a great experiment and really worked to show us all that the kids play with the same few toys and definitely don’t need the heaps that society teaches us they need. (I also have a free Eliminating Kids Clutter course that is similar to the toy elimination process in the book).

My kids are at a fun stage where they actually realize they only want a select few toys instead of everything they see. Now if I could just get them to see that while they love Lego and play with it for hours each day, they don’t need all the Lego.

The problem in our house though is not getting rid of toys but keeping them out of the house. I think we’ll talk a bit more about this in future chapters to come.

I completely agree with these statements:

By reducing mental and physical clutter, simplification increases a family’s ability to flow together, to focus and deepen their attention, to realign their lives with their dreams. – page 23

Yet 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. – page 34

 

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QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER ONE

  1. What are your reasons for wanting to simplify?
  2. Which of the “four pillars of too much” do you find you struggle with the most? And which, if any, is the easiest?
  3. What were your perceived family values before having children? Are you actually living by them now?
  4. Have you decluttered your kids’ toys? How did the process go?
  5. Do you have any other thoughts on chapter one?

 

Thanks for joining me for the first week of the Simplicity Parenting book club! Go ahead and leave your comments below, I am excited for the discussion to start and for the discussions we will have over the next few weeks.

6 Comments

  • Erika

    Hi, I am a mother of a nearly one year old boy. This is my first read through and it is great to be able to think through some of these questions. Here goes!
    Intro questions: 1. Since my little guy is a bit young for most classes and activities, much of his time is spent on free play. He goes to a wonderful daycare 4 times a week and I am confident he has structured activity mixed in with his free play.
    I hope to continue allowing plenty of free play. That is how I remember my childhood. Exploring in the backyard, playing ‘school’ in the garage using old reading books and a podium we discovered. I really want that freedom for my children.
    Chapter 1:
    1. My husband is on the minimalist spectrum as far as our home and it has really rubbed off on me. When I visit a home where there are piles of stuff, (toys or other) I feel the anxiety of it all. The mental clutter associated is something I wish to avoid. I can see how a child would feel overwhelmed by all the stuff. I want my children to build imagination and the ability to self direct when there is down time.
    2. Of the 4 Pillars, ‘too much stuff’, still manages to edge it’s way in. I am constantly try to go through and reduce but then there are things I want my son to have (clothes, developmental toys, BOOKS!)
    On the opposite end, I do not struggle with ‘too much information’. When I am home alone, I rarely have the TV on and am usually the last to know what the latest breaking news is. Don’t worry, I do keep informed as my husband seems to read everything on just about any recent topic. I usually get the summarized version once his research is complete.
    3. Before Clark was born and before I got my hands on this book, I already knew I wanted to keep things simple. I would like to think that I have done pretty well so far. I do hope this lasts!
    4. We have limited toys by sorting through hand me downs and donating what we don’t need. We keep them in separate bins and alternate from time to time. We asked our families not to get is any toys for his first Christmas (he was 3 months old). We still got some things but a very manageable amount.
    It’s fun to see him take a toy that has been in the bin and slowly discover all that can be done with it.

    2
    • Chantel

      Hi Erika, thanks for joining in!

      Ha, I get the too much books issue. I love read lots and love books and so does my daughter, plus with homeschooling . . . I’ve decided I’m okay with having a lot of books as long as we are using them. I go through them on a regular basis and get rid of any we are done with so that helps.

      I love that you are starting the simplicity parenting journey when you boy is so little, I think that will make things so much easier! I find it’s harder to get rid of stuff you already own than it is to just not buy it in the first place.

      1
  • abrita

    Introduction:
    1. How many hours do you children spend in free time each week? How could you increase this number?
    While my kids have a good amount of free time over weekends, what we are struggling with is enough free time on weeknights. Every evening we feel rushed to make it through the evening routine and into bed at the right time. We are trying to “schedule” some down time – 1/2 hour of play time – even if it means we’re a little late for dinner.
    2. Any other thoughts on the introduction?
    I loved the idea of creating “islands of being in the torrents of doing”. I could do with these islands of clam myself – to center myself and be mindful.

    Chapter One
    1) What are your reasons for wanting to simplify?
    We seem to be in a rush all the time and we want to spend our time more mindfully. So slow down and simplify.
    2) Which of the “four pillars of too much” do you find you struggle with the most? And which, if any, is the easiest?
    Too much speed – is what we struggle with most….rather a need for speed to make it through too many demands of the day. Too much stuff – is not that much of a problem. We are fine with less stuff.
    3) What were your perceived family values before having children? Are you actually living by them now?
    This was the best part of reading this chapter – revisiting the thoughts I left behind in the rush of real-life parenting. I forgot about them and am so happy I was reminded. I feel re-energised to bring them out of hibernation into our day to day lives once more.
    4) Have you decluttered your kids’ toys? How did the process go?
    No – this is on the to do list, once we have simplified the schedule.
    5) Do you have any other thoughts on chapter one?
    This quote struck a deep chord….”Let my hopes for my children outweigh my fears”. I woke up from a stupor and pledged to spend more mindful time enjoying my kids and not worrying incessantly about things that NEED to be done.

    1
    • Chantel

      Thanks so much for joining in on the book club! I appreciate you taking the time to share and answer all the questions. That quote you shared (”Let my hopes for my children outweigh my fears”) is SO powerful, isn’t it? It’s a big wake up call.

  • ZSANAE

    Hi there friends! This is my second book club with Chantel and I am excited to be joining you all. I am a mother to 3 (18, 17, and 10) I have to say, we are doing things WAY different in the little years with our 10 yr. old than we did with the older two. The flow of consumerism and providing for your child the “best” and “latest” brain games/toys was our trap! I thought we needed all the baby gadgets, baby toys, and complete sets of every latest launch…boy I sure fell for it! The older I get, the more I realize it’s a scam, a trap into more… Also, the older I get, the more chaotic the clutter feels. So I am constantly decluttering, simplifying and trying to really think before I buy or add to our lives.
    Intro:
    How many free time hours? I am not sure, but it’s quite a bit. We are pretty protective of our time and about 7 years ago, made the decision not to participate in organized clubs and sports. Mainly because it required our family to be at different places at the same time. We felt, for us, it was robbing the family unit. So because we don’t have these extra commitments, I feel the kids have amble time for freedom of interests.

    Chapter 1:
    What are your reasons for wanting to simplify?
    1. More focused time on what God is telling us to do. Living with an eternal perspective
    2. Not be cluttered and consumed with to do list, the things to buy list, etc.
    3. I truly feel better and think more clearly with less.

    Which of the “four pillars of too much” do you find you struggle with the most? And which, if any, is the easiest?
    Hmm, maybe too many choices is the one I struggle with? Too much speed is the easiest for me based on what I shared earlier.
    What were your perceived family values before having children? Are you actually living by them now? I don’t think we knew to really think ahead with our family values before we had children. This wasn’t something modeled to us, and brought to our attention. I think in this new age of technology, blogs, social media, we can be much more aware and purposeful with how we want to proceed.
    Have you decluttered your kids’ toys? How did the process go?
    YES! multiple times. My boys are so great at this, not too sentimental and when they are done, they are done. They have no problems letting things go and their possessions are extremely minimal. My daughter on the other hand is extremely sentimental and a pile maker… So it can get messy and chaotic quick. She is learning though that there are ways to help her with her style and letting go process.
    Do you have any other thoughts on chapter one?
    I found the author’s experience with children in extreme poverty and children in affluent situations to respond similar. Also, how too much info of “adult” news can really effect so much of a child’s well being.

    1
    • Chantel

      Thanks for joining in for another book club, Zsanae! I really appreciate the input of those a little farther down the journey. I find your comment about your boys being good at decluttering and your daughter being more sentimental fascinating because I totally see that played out in my children (and growing up my brother was always the minimalist and I was the hoarder as well).

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