Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Simplicity Parenting: A Review

Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne is hands-down the best parenting book I have read. The ideas are simple (things you probably already think about) and there aren't lots of gimmicks, systems, or rewards. This book advocates involving your child in a simpler life. A simpler life is less stress for the child, less stress for the parents, and a happier family overall.
Payne separates the simplification into four major areas: environment, rhythm, schedules, and the adult world. I was sold in this book halfway through the chapter about simplifying your child's environment. Payne suggests that the abundance of toys (books and clothes too) are stressing our children out because they just have too many. Decisions are hard when too many choices are present, and often their minds become overwhelmed and just sort of turn off. Payne cites several cases where a child has been temperamental, acting different, or having characteristics of ADD, and simply by reducing the number of toys and clutter in the child's environment, these symptoms have drastically decreased or disappeared all together.
We have been having some issues with Finn's behavior lately, so before I even finished the chapter on environment, I did a huge purge of Finn's toys. Now, mind you, I was already in the purging mood and had purged a LOT of stuff from our house, so I was sort of on a roll. We have a tiny house (800 square feet) so we don't actually have an overwhelming amount of toys. But we do (did) have way more than we need, and things were constantly cluttered. So, I removed about 1/4 of the books and about 1/3 of the toys from the house and put them into "storage" in the garage. (As you can imagine, the noise-making and plastic toys were the first to go!) I am going to keep them for a couple of months. Toys that he asks for can become a toy library (to exchange for toys in the house) and the rest will be donated.  I was sure that Finn was going to throw a fit when this happened. Before he walked in the house, I explained to him what I did... "I rearranged your room and put some of your toys into the garage for now". He saw his room and was instantly mesmerized by toys that had always been there, but maybe he didn't notice because there were too many choices. Ever since I made this change he has been engaging in solitary imaginative play for about one to two hours a day! And, he has only inquired about a few missing toys (and didn't even want them, he just wanted to make sure they were still in the garage).  And maybe it's my imagination, but in general, Finn has been much more pleasant to be around as well. So far, I am so happy with the results. Now I just need to figure out how to make sure he doesn't add too much to the clutter with his birthday and the holidays right around the corner.
The other chapters focus on making sure your family has some sort of routine or rhythm that you children can rely on, reducing schedules (mainly for older kids) so that children still have ample free time each day, reducing screen time, and reducing the children's involvement with adult issues (politics, money, etc.). Everything Payne said made perfect sense and I have already been putting it into practice at our home.
Simplicity Parenting is basically a call to live a more simple life. You children will become happier, and you will become happier. I recommend that everyone with children read this book. I am certainly glad that I did!
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Pin It Now!


  1. I've had this book on hold at the library forever--can't wait to read it!

  2. I really enjoyed that book-- it helped motivate me to do a toy purge, too, although 2 of my children are older so it is a little different for us. I need to work more on the rhythm part, although it seems to be coming to us. We already did a lot of unscheduled time/ no screen time on school days (and now I unplug the computer completely after school), but it always feels good to have something you do affirmed. :)

  3. I also love this book. Great review!

  4. love reading this review right now and how it has worked out with finn! and wouldn't you know it? that book is next to me right now, and i started reading it last night (it arrived yesterday)... but it's for my friend's shower which is saturday. it won't be finished but i'll have to put it on my wishlist! it seems like a nice reminder to have around. (not that we have that much stuff... but i know how it accumulates with time!)