This is part two in a Q & A series on parenting with Amy Pertl-Clark, Co-Owner and Director of Operations at Harmony Natural Learning Center. Today we discuss in detail Simplicity Parenting, a parenting style encouraged by Kim John Payne.
ND: Can you tell me a bit about the concept of Simplicity Parenting?
Simplicity Parenting is just that, parenting simply. It is a way of creating a family life that allows space for connection, creativity, and relaxation. The idea is to really slow things down and create a less-is-more environment. It focuses on four realms: environment, rhythm, schedule, and technology. To keep it simple, here are four statements followed by quotes from Kim John Payne the author of the book Simplicity Parenting.
1. Get rid of stuff. “If you simplify the environment, it brings immediate calm.”
2. Set priorities. “When you do the same thing in the same way, warmly and kindly, everything becomes easier.”
3. Release the pressure. “Think back on moments in your childhood that you cherish. It’s never the endless amounts of soccer practice, or the trips to Disney World. Instead, it’s sitting on a rock, watching a river flow. It’s making a connection to nature, a connection to friends, and a connection to oneself.”
4. Unplug “Parents are in a hurry to introduce kids to be world citizens, but we need to start them off believing it’s a beautiful world.”
ND: What would you say to the mother or father who is reading this and thinking, oh no, I’ve been doing it all wrong!
I would say, “NO, YOU ARE NOT!” I’m going to quote Mr. Rogers here, “Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.” We must stop creating this self-doubt in ourselves. Take a moment at the end of each day and reflect on what happened. Think about what felt great to you and celebrate it. Then think about what felt lousy and what the circumstances were surrounding that feeling. Take a deep breath and know that you did the best that you could in that moment. Think through what you will do the next time to help alleviate this situation. Maybe it will be leaving a bit earlier for your doctor’s appointment so that your child will have a moment to chase that butterfly. Or perhaps it’s deciding on the school outfit the night before with no negotiations in the morning. Two words that hold a lot of meaning on this parenting journey: be consistent.
ND: How about the mother or father who is feeling down on themselves for having a bad day and maybe lost their “cool”?
No matter what anybody tells you, we all lose our cool sometimes. Give yourself grace! When things quiet down, talk with your child about what happened and apologize for your misstep. Tell your child what you are going to do to help make sure that doesn’t happen again. This “repair” work is so important as it helps your child see that you make mistakes also, and shows her the process you go through to fix it.
Amy Pertl-Clark has spent the past six years helping to build The Harmony Natural Learning Center into a place that protects the innate wonder and curiosity of childhood by offering children the time, space and inspiration to engage in natural play amidst a fast-paced, highly wired, more-is-more culture. It is her desire to help parents trust their own instincts and create an emotional bond that will enable their relationship with their child to be full of love, laughter and joy. She hopes to encourage parents to live a slower family life and use natural play to engage their child in learning. Learn more about Amy and her adventures in literature with her daughter Emmy here.