Monday, November 21, 2011

Best. Book. Ever.

I'm almost finished with the best "parenting" book I have ever read.  I should probably add, I'm not really into reading lots of parenting books because I find a lot of them very extreme in one direction or the other.  Not this one.  "Simplicity Parenting" is based on the premise that less is more and helps you to think through how you can work to create balance and calm in your home. 

I love it.  Absolutely love it.  I also find it a little funny that I book had to even be written on something like this.  It's how I was raised.  It's how Hubby was raised.  Yet, around the time Hubby and I were growing up, parenting started to change.  More and more moms started going back to work.  Kids started to accumulate MASSIVE quantities of toys.  Kids were involved in multiple activities at the same time.  TVs and video games became much more prevalent.  Due to hectic schedules, family dinners started to lose their importance.  Kids aren't allowed hours of playtime.  Their imaginations aren't being used and grown - therefore impacting their critical thinking abilities later in life.  (Don't believe me on that one?  Spend some time in a high school today.  It's pathetic.)

Hubby and I both had stay at home moms for most of our growing up lives.  We had all we ever needed, but not even close to all we ever wanted.  We had jobs as teenagers.  We had savings accounts.  Our parents worked and saved and put us through college.  We graduated college debt free and aside from our mortgage we have stayed that way.  We drive (nearly) 10 and 15 year old cars.  We do our own cooking, cleaning, and yard work.  We save for our future and our children's as much as you can on a teacher's salary.  We hardly ever go out.  We have almost no plastic, automated toys in our house.  Our children have plenty of clothing, but their closets aren't busting at the seams.  We eat meals that we prepare and I try (as much as time will allow with a one and two year old) to make them as unprocessed as possible.  And for the most part, this all came naturally to us.  It's all we've ever known.

So, back to the book.  "Simplicity Parenting" is basically a book on all the advantages to raising your children this way.  Like I said earlier - it's almost a little funny that someone even had to write a book on this.  But it is so against the norm these days.  It talks in great detail about all the benefits for your children to raising them with little to no television, toys that require imagination, family dinners, plenty of "free" time for play (rather than over scheduling them with lessons and sports teams.

One of my favorite parts so far is focusing on establishing your family's rhythms and the "ordinary" day in your household.  Children need predictability.  They thrive on knowing what comes next.  They are calmer and better behaved when they know that all their needs will be met each day in an predicable rhythm.  You need the majority of your days to be "ordinary" so that the "high note" days stand out as special and they know that the "low note" days won't last forever. 

I love the concept of rhythm - establishing very definite patterns around the more difficult periods of your day.  For us that includes mealtimes, getting ready for bed, and transitions - pretty typical stuff with two toddlers.  I'm working to really hard make these times in our days consistent from day to day. 

One suggestion the book had that Hubby and I really liked concerning mealtime is having each day of the week be known for a certain food.  In our house that's going to look like this:
Sunday - Roasts (Beef, Chicken, or Pork - that part can change, but every Sunday we will have a roasted something)
Monday - Pasta Night
Tuesday - Soup Night (Can also include chilis and stews.  We might switch it to salad night in the summer months - who wants soup when it's 99 degrees outside with a heat index of 108?)
Wednesday - Rice Night
Thursday - Crock Pot Night
Friday - Pizza Night (Homemade pizzas!  The kids will LOVE helping!)
Saturday - Mommy and Daddy's date night in night.  (Cause that's about all we can afford.  The kids will probably usually get leftovers on this night.)
Saturday and Sunday mornings will be big breakfast mornings - with Saturdays usually being pancake morning.
To some this might sound a little rigid, but to me it certainly makes meal planning MUCH easier!  And it lets us all know what's coming up.

Another smaller concept I really liked in the book is that by not over scheduling your child, you're allowing them to create anticipation concerning the one activity that they really enjoy doing.  If they are constantly bouncing from one lesson to the next, they never have anytime to stop and think about what's coming next.  If you only play soccer, and you love soccer, you're really going to look forward to Saturday morning soccer!  Again, this is a concept that I feel like I knew this without reading it, but it really helps to affirm it in my mind now that I have read about it.

I know I jumped around a bit with my thoughts, but there are so many other wonderful things to think about in the book.  I would write more and try to better organize my thoughts, but my beautiful children just woke up.  Hoepfully I will post later today with more thoughts from the book and to catch up on more of my things I'm thankful for.