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Simplicity Parenting Book Club – Chapters Four & Five

Welcome to week three, also known as the second last week of the Simplicity Parenting book club! Next week I will be finishing off the discussion with chapters six and the epilogue.

If you missed the previous weeks you can see week one here and week two here.

 

CHAPTER FOUR – RHYTHM

I used to balk at the word rhythm, conjuring up visuals of an unending boring routine. I truly enjoy change, I welcome, embrace and go looking for change and for so long I was afraid of any word that I viewed as the opposite (rhythm, routine, tradition, etc), but in the last while I’ve actually come to enjoy the idea of rhythm. Oddly, I think it started when I began eating the same breakfast every morning. With one less decision to make each morning my day instantly started out more relaxed than it had been and I started looking for other daily rhythms I could include in my life.

Where well-established rhythms exist, there is much less parental verbiage, less effort and fewer problems around transitions. – page 103

Embracing rhythm has been a rather new inclusion into my own life and I am only now starting to introduce rhythms into the lives of my children. The quote above was one that really inspired me to start some rhythms with my children because with homeschooling and being around them all day I get tired of repeating the same things over and over again, I need less parental verbiage in my life.

A few places I want/am starting to implement this in the lives of my children: morning routine (breakfast, brushing teeth, doing chores, etc), putting things away immediately after playing with them (I foresee us working on this one for a long time) and the bedtime routine. We do have a few daily rhythms already, our strongest one being our lunch routine where I get the food on the table and the kids get our next audiobook set up and we listen as we eat. That’s a routine we’ll be carrying on for quite some time.

A sense of rhythm in the home can increase these moments of pause. There’s something about being there consistently for kids that allows them to “pick their spots” and open up to you when nothing much is happening. You’re familiar, consistent and predictable. – page 109

 

I loved the emphasis on relationships in this chapter.

Relationships are forged in pauses . . . the ordinary, incidental moments that have extraordinary cumulative power. – 113

Every evening my daughter wants to have our evening chat, with the lights off this is a time where she shares her thoughts and asks questions, and sometimes it even turns into a confessional of things she feels guilty about. This was not a rhythm I set out to make but rather one that she started naturally and we’ve both grown to look forward to.

 

A sense of rhythm sets a steady beat, but allows for wonderful high notes. Children react to such unexpected pleasures with genuine appreciation. Occasional high notes are welcome against a steady rhythm. Very different from this are the tones of continual escalation. That song, by another name, is entitlement. – page 122

I was excited to see how much reading stories is a rhythm that has so many benefits. I mean, I knew it did but I often read about them in homeschooling books so to see the same information in a different kind of book was nice.

Sharing stories and reading with your children is a rhythm that extends  your power as a parent . . . In doing so you offer security and connection – true of the best of rhythms. You also provide magic, with the circle of light from the beside table as the stage. You throw open doors with stories, to other lands, to the magical, to the past and the future; you emphasize the importance of now while introducing the infinite. – page 130

Most of the reading I do with my children comes during the morning in our homeschool. I take a literature based approach to our schooling so most of what we do is story based. I really love the idea of reading to the kids before bed but as of right now the bedtime routine is one of exhaustion for me and adding something else in is just not possible right now.

 

QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER FOUR

  1. What kind of family rhythms do you already have in place?
  2. Are there any rhythms you want to start?
  3. Do you read stories to your kids? What time do you find is best for this?
  4. Do you have any other thoughts on this chapter or are there any quotes that jumped out at you?

 

CHAPTER FIVE – SCHEDULES

This chapter was one I was excited about because this is the one area where I feel like I am doing things well. There is the odd week here and there that gets a little busier than I would like but I intentionally keep my calendar fairly open.

This chapter really reaffirmed some of the decisions I’ve made to not enroll my kids into a bunch of different extra curricular activities at this age even though so many of their peers are.

I don’t believe a child’s love of an activity protects them from the stress of doing too much of it, too young I think an interest, if genuine, is sustainable over time. What’s more, a healthy interest requires time and the ballast of leisure and other interests for it to deepen and endure. – page 138

While my kids have done some extra curricular activities in the past we limit it to a maximum of one a season. This last year they both took a homeschool fencing class in January to March and then in the spring May & June my daughter played softball, something she has wanted to do for years and my son decided he didn’t want to do anything, a choice I was totally okay with!

For this school year we are not enrolling the kids in any extra curricular and instead I want to focus on meaningful connections with those around us instead.

 

Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

Meaningful connections at great-grandma’s house.

 

Think of boredom as a “gift” . . . boredom is often the precursor to creativity. Think of a bridge between “doing nothing” and the sort of deep creative play we talked about. The bridge is almost always paved with (the frustration of) boredom. “I’m bored.” Now that is when something interesting usually happens. – page 142

 

Anticipating gratification, rather than expecting or demanding it, strengthens a child’s will. Impulsivity, wanting everything now, leaves the will weak, flaccid. As a child lives with anticipation, as it strengthens over time, so too does their sense of themselves, their ego. It’s ironic, isn’t it? In our on-demand culture it’s easy to forget what tremendous power can develop through waiting. – page 149

I so agree with this above quote, I never understand people who take their kids on surprise trips because the anticipation is usually at least half of the fun!

 

Ordinary days are the sustaining notes of daily life. They are the notes that allow high notes to be high and low notes to be low; they provide tone and texture. If a child’s happiness is not hinged on the high notes – not hinged on exceptional events or having exceptional talents – then they have a true gift. An exceptional character. They may be able to live their life with an appreciation for the moment, for the simple pleasures of an ordinary day. Can you imagine anything better? – page 153

I had never thought about ordinary days this way before and yet I feel like it is so accurate. While grand adventures are fun they wouldn’t be fun if they were an every day thing, you need the ordinary to make the grand adventures feel larger than life.

 

Self-directed play builds multiple and emotional intelligences. It fosters the skills necessary to navigate an uncertain future, one that will demand increasing flexibility and creative problem solving. Play is not an old-fashioned thing of the past. Unstructured play – and plenty of it – is a developmental necessity for kids. – page 158

Free play is so fun for kids and fun to watch as a parent. Some weeks my kids are better at this than others and this last week has been one where they have been off playing together for hours on end, making house boats and endless other imaginative play.

 

QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER FIVE

  1. Are there some ways you can add more free, unscheduled time into your child’s day?
  2. Are there different areas in your schedule where you need to simplify?
  3. How can you model the importance of downtime and balance?
  4. Do you have any other thoughts on this chapter or are there any quotes that jumped out at you?

2 Comments

  • Erika

    Rhythm
    1. Our mornings and evenings during the week have consistent rhythm. Breakfast is the same so the decision doesn’t have to be made. Evening starts with dinner then goes to playtime, bathtime, books, bottle, brushing, snuggles, songs, prayers and bed. I know daycare has a sort of rhythm as well.
    2. The struggle I have is on the ‘free’ days where we decide to do something fun which usually means going somewhere. My son is pretty flexible but is also at the age where he voices discontent with screeches or fussing. I have to run through my mental list to find what we may need to change.
    3. We usually read before nap and bedtime with some in between. During church has been nice. Keeps him quiet and interested for a bit. I look forward to the books with more plot.

    Chapter 5
    I don’t have to think much about this right now as almost all playtime is unstructured and led by the little guy himself.
    Looking ahead, there are things we hope to involve him in but aiming to keep it simple ; )

    My childhood was full of free play. After school we would finish homework quickly and then the time was ours. I have so many fond memories of building tunnels in in the dirt pile used for gardening. We would use twigs and leaves to create shelters and make pools. Then my brothers G.I. Joes would move in and the play would last for days.
    I want that to be available to my children.

    • Chantel

      I love that you have such great morning and evening rhythms, Erika! And your childhood free play sounds just like mine, when I lived in town, when I lived in town I spent a lot of time playing outside with friends and then when we moved to our farm I had no one my age to play with so I just stayed inside (that seems backwards).

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