10 Tips for Simplicity Parenting
What can you do to simplify your life as a parent? Start with these 10 things to make your family member's lives simpler.
There are many parenting styles out there, and one of the most intriguing is outlined in the book "Simplicity Parenting." Simplicity parenting is "the ability to simplify our lives so that we can slow down and enjoy a sense of ease and calm," according to Jean Miller, a certified parenting coach and creator of Waldorf Inspired Learning.
In other words, simplifying your life as a parent means that you streamline your responsibilities so you have quality time to spend with your family. "Parents set the tone for family time," notes Emily Anderson, a homeschooling mom and creator of The Anderson Crew, so by simplifying your own life, you'll also be simplifying your child's and encouraging him to value his loved ones. You can start simplifying with these tips.
- Reclaim Your Space
Create a purpose in each room of your home. For example, make your dining room for eating by clearing homework, art projects and other papers off the table. Move your kids' backpacks, gym shoes and school textbooks to a designated area in your house so you're not staring at the mess while you try to relax in the living room. Simplicity parenting means identifying what each room is for and sticking to that.
This step is crucial to simplicity parenting. Miller says removing clutter will give you a "sense of freedom" as you begin to clear space to actually enjoy your home. Start by moving all trash and recycling. Put the things you're keeping where they belong. Fill boxes with stuff you no longer want and put them in your car immediately. This way you'll remember to donate them and they won't sit in your home taking up space.
- Analyze the Toy Quantity
Carefully analyze the number of toys your child has. "Try cutting that by 50 percent," suggests Miller. That's all your child really needs. Work together to identify toys she no longer plays with or wants. If you donate them to charity, your child will also be learning a lesson in being generous.
- Create a Family Routine
"When the kids know what to expect, and what we expect of them, things tend to run smoother," notes Anderson. Establish a schedule for your family that includes when you'll eat meals, when your children will attend classes or sports, as well as when they get up in the morning and go to bed at night.
- Leave Room for Playtime
Scheduling is important, but your child needs time to let his imagination run wild. "What children need most is unstructured time," Miller says. Don't schedule so many activities in your child's day that he doesn't have time to play outside, get creative with his toys or spend time with parents and siblings. In addition to easing stress and increasing feelings of happiness, "our true moments of connection often come during unscheduled down time," Miller notes.
- Plan Dinners as a Family
Add family dinner to your daily schedule. Simplify the process by creating a rotating menu that stays the same from week to week, such as "Taco Tuesday" or "Soup and Salad Sunday." This takes the guesswork out of planning meals and also gives your family time to spend together. That's key, as family dinners are a "great anchor point during the day to bring the family together," Miller says.
- Limit Screen Time
Screens limit our ability to engage in human interaction and electronics can be very distracting. Make television, computer work and video games a small part of your daily schedule.
- Reduce Sensory Overload
In addition to turning off screens, limit your child's sensory exposure. Loud music, blaring televisions and bright lights distract her and interfere with other interactions. Create a quiet, serene home by playing soft music and dimming the lights.
- Leave Your Kids Alone
Resist the urge to hover. Instead, let your kids know you're there, but then give them the freedom to read a book, play with their toys or do an art project on their own.
- Go Outside
There is something calming about being in nature. Take a family hike, have a picnic by a lake or go to the park and fly a kite. Getting outside doesn't take a lot of planning, but offers great rewards. It may even encourage your child to be active and participate in physical activities.
Sara Ipatenco is an elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, both in child development and elementary education. Ipatenco has been published in "Teaching Tolerance" and "Family Fun" magazines.
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