Simplicity Leads To Happiness In Children (And Here’s How to Do It)

Life

“Outside Mama” says my little man, “outside”.

A momentary break in our round-the-clock west coast rain reignites my son’s passion for the outdoors. His instincts are telling him life’s better in the fresh air. With my husband away on business I decide to throw our schedule out the window and go with the flow my son is about to create.

We rake the yard. Dig for worms. Study ladybugs. And paint watercolor dinosaurs sitting on the grass.

“Are we done buddy? Inside now?” I ask after being outside for an hour and a half.

“No Mama” he says pointing to the back gate, “Bat and ball”. So off we go. My little man confidently leads the way. We take our time, examining spring bulbs, collecting rocks and looking for “Six Toes”, our neighbour’s cat.

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We arrive at our local park and start tracking dinosaurs. Their footprints are scattered all across the gravel pitch and their eggs are resting in a hollowed out tree. We head up to the diamond and play baseball in the fading afternoon light. And we play hide and seek in the adjacent woods with another little boy and his Dad.

The park is quiet as the other kids go home for dinner. The dog walkers come out and we make friends with a rescued black and white collie. The sun sets and my son finally agrees to go home for dinner after I suggest the bears may soon appear.

Our three and a half hour adventure leaves me feeling calm and peaceful, as if I’ve been meditating. I had no idea how far my little man’s imagination would take us this afternoon. His innocent curiosity and slow pace remind me of the power and beauty of simplicity. I crave more.

I often find myself feeling as if I need to entertain my son. To stimulate him. Teach him. But he’s proven if I hand him the reigns, he’s got this.

And what’s more – he’s ready to take me on marvellous adventures. I feel privileged he included in his enchanted imaginary world. A simple afternoon where not much happened was exactly what we both needed.

I reflect on how widely a recent post I wrote about how simplifying our kid’s lives may protect against mental health issues has been read (over half of a million times, and counting). I’m humbled by the overwhelming flood of positive comments it’s received. But it’s made me ask: Why?

I wonder if it’s because, collectively, we know simplifying is vital not only for our kid’s health, but also for our own. Simplicity is a rare gift in modern life. It’s an obvious message, and when we hear it, we can’t help but shout YES.

Slowing down feeds our souls and nurtures our families. No matter what parenting style we practice, this topic unites us.

Scientific studies are a powerful reinforcement that simplification is protective. But, deep down, all parents know when our kids are overwhelmed we have the power to help by silencing the noise, lifting their spirits and making them feel safe.

Simplicity infuses family life with countless benefits. It’s a powerful tool to show our kids unconditional love, strengthen our parent-child connection and make us happy. So, here are eight practical tips for incorporating simplicity into modern family life.

1. CONQUER THE CLUTTER

Perhaps the most obvious place to start and also a LOT of fun. Fewer toys benefit kids and gives them the freedom to immerse themselves deeply in imagination rather than superficial play. One reader this week commented:

“When my kids were young, my husband read an article about children having 10 toys and no more. We walked into their play room, he scooped up all their toys and told me to get rid of them. I was extremely hesitant. I thought they’d be at my feet with so ‘few’ toys. But no, they played better with 10 toys than with 40.”

Here are a few tips to make it easier to decide which toys need to find a new home:

  • Remove broken toys
  • Remove toys with missing parts
  • Remove toys which limit kids imagination (toys where you press a button and it lights up or makes a noise are prime candidates)
  • Remove toys your child hasn’t played with in over a month
  • And then remove some more!
  • Always keep favourites which are often simple and classic toys

After you remove excess books and toys your child may still have too many available at any one time. Create a toy library where you can rotate toys on a regular basis. And don’t stop with your kids room. Lead by example and declutter the whole home.

We have to make room in our lives for the things we want by removing what we don’t want.

2. SIMPLIFY INFORMATION

It’s healthy for kids to be aware of the world around them. But, we need to safeguard against age inappropriate information which will not “prepare” our kids for the world but will paralyze them.

The National Institute of Mental Health suggests the brain doesn’t fully mature until our mid-late twenties with the frontal lobe, responsible for judgment and decision-making being the last region to complete development. Therefore children simply can’t process adult information.

Exposing them to distressing world news can be the source of genuine uneasiness over a situation they can’t rationalize. Watching traumatic news after the kids go to bed or limiting adult conversations can go a long way to reducing our kid’s anxiety levels.

3. KILL THE SCREENS

One of the toughest parenting challenges is reducing screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics report children spend an average of seven hours a day on screens, including television, devices, computers and phones.

Parent and Paediatrician, Dr. Dimitri Christakis suggested in his compelling TED Talk that rapid image changes on screen, when viewed by children during critical periods of brain development, precondition the mind to expect high levels of stimulation. This can lead to inattention later in life. So where do we start?

Perhaps the most powerful influence we can have is to model the behaviour we’d like to see by reducing our own screen time.

My son recently said to me, “put the phone down mama”. It was a monumental wake up call. Even as adults, it hurts when we spend precious time with loved ones and they allow texts and emails to distract them. The last thing I want is my son feeling like he’s competing with my phone.

So, I’ve started setting rules for myself. I don’t reply to texts immediately unless it’s urgent. Emails can wait. And social media updates will be there later. Out of sight, out of mind works well for me so I hide my phone…from myself. And using flight mode is my new best friend.

They say it takes three weeks to break a habit so set yourself a 21-day challenge. Leave your phone at home when you go out as a family. Have a social media free weekend. Or switch your phone off an hour before bed.

I feel calmer, more present and less scattered with the small changes I’ve made. And the ultimate reward – my little man is asking for less screen time. It’s only the tip of the screen time iceberg but leading by example will filter down to your kids.

4. USE A NEW LANGUAGE

Have you heard of the five love languages? The theory is that each of us give and receive love in different ways. The languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch.

Most of us experience love through all of these languages but often one or two are dominant. Giving and receiving gifts can be a wonderful expression of love but I wonder if our consumer driven society is allowing it to monopolize our relationships.

Once we reduce the clutter lurking in our kid’s rooms we can resist the temptation to give more love as “gifts” by using the other four love languages. Spending quality one on one time with our kids. Wrestling with our two year old on the bed. Hugs, hugs and more hugs. And telling them every chance we get how much we love them.

“Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and loves them unconditionally.” – Pam Leo

5. ADD SIMPLE PLEASURES

Visit your local craft store and rummage through the house to collect natural materials, fabrics, ribbons and pillows. Give them to your kids to let their imaginations to run wild, building forts, playhouses and enchanted castles.

On your next hike or trip to the beach collect shells, leaves, moss, stones and acorns. Bring the outdoors inside and create nature baskets or tables, to examine and play with later. Both Montessori and Waldorf encourage nature tables for kids to learn, interact with nature and the seasons and immerse themselves in an interest they’re passionate about.

6. SIMPLIFY THE RHYTHM OF LIFE

In Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne describes daily life as a song, with both high and low notes. The high notes are school, sports practice, music lessons and birthday parties. The low notes are walking the dog, getting an ice cream with Dad or playing catch in the backyard.

It’s important that we build in regular low notes for our kids to rely on as a release of tension and a break from the pressures of daily life. It’s also a valuable opportunity to strengthen our connection with our kids.

7. MINIMISE SCHEDULES

Since I was a kid, homework and time spent in structured activities has doubled meaning free time has been cut in half for most children.

With kids being carted from one activity to the next and often watching devices on the way, they’re constantly stimulated. Payne says, “A child who doesn’t experience leisure – or better yet, boredom – will always be looking for external stimulation, activity, or entertainment”

By prioritizing time for free play over organized activities we foster creativity, self reliance and happiness.

As an added benefit, parents who feel like a taxi service enjoy a new sense of calm and a chance to spend more time with their kids. One reader wrote to me this week having done just that. She decided to pull her son out of hockey as he needed more downtime. Other parents thought she was mad. But, she says it was the best decision as her son is much happier and calmer.

8. OUTSIDE MAMA AND DADA

Spending time with children outside is never a mistake. Nature provides endless possibilities for healthy stimulation, creativity and confidence building. In his compelling book Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv, exposes the growing divide between children and nature. He suggests “nature-deficit disorder” is directly linked to conditions such as obesity, attention disorders, and depression in today’s wired generation.

Whether it’s going for a hike come sunshine or rain, playing at the park, swimming in the ocean or exploring our own backyards getting your kids outside as often as possible will lead to good things.

RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

Without a doubt, parenthood has brought unprecedented levels of complexity to my life. But when I immerse myself fully in my toddler’s magical world I am struck by the sense of peace it brings.

He is my tiny, two-feet-tall Zen Master. At times I’m sure he was sent to slow me down. To make me appreciate spring bulbs, ladybugs and dinosaur tracks.

If we all lived in wild places, in log cabins, growing veggies and tending to our money trees simplicity would come naturally. But until that time, if we want to revel in the treasures it promises we need to first make space in our lives and welcome it into our modern families. Let’s support each other to have the courage to trust our instincts, be the odd man out and let our kids be silly, fun-loving kids for as long as they can.

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COMMENTS
  • March 18, 2016

    I agree with this WHOLEHEARTEDLY! When we moved to Hawaii, we got rid of about 2/3 of our “stuff” and have never replaced it. Best thing ever is a simpler life.

    • March 18, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much Janet and couldn’t agree more. We have moved so much which forces it every few years but it’s amazing how much it can creep back when we’re not careful. Thanks again for reading 🙂

  • March 20, 2016

    Thanks for these reminders! I was just thinking today that it’s time to do some de-cluttering. The main thing I struggle with is my toddler having too much screen time. I never meant for him to watch YouTube on my phone, but now when he sees me on the phone he asks to watch ABCs. I think I’m going to need to stop having so much screen time myself in front of him. Maybe we need more outdoor time!

    • March 20, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      For sure Heidi. I think we all struggle. One thing I do, which isn’t really reducing screen time, is to put my phone on flight mode and he watches videos of us – videos I’ve made of him and us playing etc. It’s less addictive and more interactive at least. We’ve made a big effort over the last couple of weeks to say no to tv and as time has gone one he’s not even asking for it. He’s been finding new things to become immersed in. Do you have a learning tower? It’s been the absolute best thing we’ve bought – he helps me in the kitchen a lot. Thanks again for reading!

      • March 22, 2016
        Sunshine

        I love the idea of a learning tower, but for our small kitchen, we got a kik-step. It is a rolling, library step stool, and when you stand on it, it puts down stoppers so it stops rolling. It has a little step to get to the top, and non-slip rubber to stand on, perfect for toddlers to help at the counter! I see they cost half the price as when we got ours years ago! Now they are under $50. Now we have a toddler again; so it’s in full time use, but it has been useful for all of us to reach up to high shelves.

        • March 24, 2016
          Tracy Gillett

          The kick-step sounds great too, Sunshine! We’re traveling to NZ soon for a couple of months and obviously won’t be bringing the tower. I’ll look up the kick-step – could be a great alternative. Thank you.

  • March 20, 2016
    Lori in Arizona

    What a lovely and impressive post! Now that my son is grown and out of the house, I tend to do the same with my 11 year old dog. Let him set the pace, choose which way to go, who to meet and greet. Those 3 walks a day are the BEST part of my day. We moved to Northern Arizona primarily for the perfect weather and mountains. We are enjoying nature daily. When walking last week, we met another frequent walker in his 80’s, as the sun was rising over the mountains, and he reminded me ‘we are so lucky to live here!’ Small town living may not have all the conveniences or offerings as the city, but it is well worth the move if you can make it work.

    • March 20, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Lori and what a lovely comment. I used to be a veterinarian and can fully appreciate how happy your dog must be with three walks a day in the mountains at his own pace. Too often I’ve seen owners try to control their dogs excessively. We are toying with the idea of moving to a small town. We live in Canada now but have traveled extensively in the states. We love Arizona and the southwest. We have a trip coming up in September to Colorado which we’re excited about. Thanks again for reading and for taking the time to comment.

      • April 10, 2016
        Nathan

        And don’t forget the cats! Many people live in situations where letting the cat be outside is impractical, etc. And there’s this assumption that somehow they are fine being indoors ALL THE TIME. How can that be so any more than for us, dogs or almost any other animal?

        No doubt walking them on a leash can be, well, challenging for many cats if you haven’t conditioned them from an early age, but finding some way for them to get outdoor time is essential to their mental & physical health; just as it is for us.

        • April 13, 2016
          Tracy Gillett

          Nice one Nathan – lovely to see you looking out for pets. All too often they’re inside too much as you say. Thanks for reading.

  • March 20, 2016

    Found your blog by way of Joshua Becker’s Becoming Minimalist blog, and what a great find. As the father of a 4- and 2-year-old much of what you write resonates with me. I grew up in the sticks as a kid and it seems like an entirely different world from what my kids are exposed to daily as part of the wi-fi genetation. Oh, the challenges. Looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    • March 20, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you so much for your kind words Jeffrey and a warm welcome to my site. Very happy to hear you’re enjoying it. Your comments are spot on. Lovely to meet you and look forward to hearing from you again 🙂

  • March 21, 2016

    Thank you!! I agree so much with all of these ideas to treasure these precious times. It doesn’t feel so “odd man out” when you see how many other people value it too! Bless you!

    • March 21, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much Monica, very kind of you to say. And the flood of comments has been extremely positive and reassuring. Thanks again.

  • March 22, 2016
    Roy

    Great article. How much screen time do you allow? I am struggling with this with my 11 year old. I am shooting for 30 minutes a day, more on the weekends. If no homework we might watch a movie. My son prefers to play indoors and it drives me crazy because I never came indoors as a child. Thanks!

    • March 22, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Roy! It’s a work in progress at our house too. Last week we went for about five days with no screens at all and it was amazing. But that’s been out of the ordinary – we’re working on keeping it low like you though. I think your aims sound fantastic. A friend gave me a book called iMinds (http://www.imindsbook.com) which is on my shelf and I need to read. It covers the effects of screens. I don’t think all screen time is bad though and with an 11 year old it would be a wonderful family night to watch a movie and eat popcorn and snuggle together under a blanket. They are some of my fondest memories from childhood. It sounds like your instincts are spot on so trust your gut and do what’s right for your family. Thank you for reading.

      • September 20, 2016
        Claire D

        A year or so, I instigated ‘screen days’ with my two young kids. They are allowed limited time on screens (TV, Tablet, Ipad, Gaming… basically anything electric!), but only on four days a week.

        It has revolutionized the dynamic in the house. I NEVER get nagged for screens on their days off, because the kids themselves pick the days they want a screen. Fundementally, THEY chose the NO screen days. They are more creative and have more creative play because of it.

        Behaviour has improved noticeably. They can lose a day for poor behaviour, but an extra day is never added for good behaviour. However, on an off day we may still have a family movie night if it is on the weekend.

        It is the single best parenting decision I have made in the past few years.

  • March 23, 2016

    This, and the related post are great, but I would disagree on one point. Don’t limit the books. Being able to explore books actually facilitates everything else you’ve written about. Get rid of the junk, but keep the real books.

    • March 24, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Hi Noel, thanks for your comment and I agree – the books are a hard one. Reading is absolutely wonderful and my little man has just started reading on his own at times which is so cute when we find him in his little chair with a stack of books. All I’d say is we find when he has fewer books (and that is a relative term – say 5-10 at a time), he chooses a few favourites and will stick with them for a week or so and than naturally rotate. Everyone seems to gift us books and we must have at least another 50 in the cupboard. So I rotate them – otherwise it’s too much clutter and too much choice for him. With fewer to choose from he seems to read more. Thanks again and lovely to meet you.

  • March 24, 2016
    Hillary

    I’m curious about the comment of only keeping 10 toys, and how someone would determine or define 10 toys, because that sounds marvelous. I’ve notice the more my son has the more reckless he is with things, and that becomes a source of conflict that I would like to eliminate for our lives.

    • March 24, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Hi Hillary,
      It came from a comment on my post about mental health issues. It’s shocking how times have changed. Then, 40 was considered too many. Now the average is 150. I agree – my son is much better with less. His favorite toys are his Schleich dinosaurs – he does have quite a few but he knows them individually by name, he looks after them, moves them around the house and takes them to the potty with him. So for him I count the dinosaur collection as one toy even though it’s more then one piece. Bigger toys like a fire truck is one toy. I think it’s subjective and you’ll be best to determine what works for your child. Try removing a few and see what happens, bet it will lead to wonderful things. Thanks, Tracy

      • April 02, 2016
        Jessica

        How do you handle legos? My oldest son is 12 and has two big boxes full of them and they end up everywhere. He uses them daily, and i could probably take away everything else…but I need to find a way to trim down the legos!!

        • April 04, 2016
          Natalie

          I have wonderful memories of playing legos as a kid, and still love playing duplo with my toddler/preschoolers. Maybe look for ways to confine the space they occupy (i.e. storage solutions, “this room only,” or “pick everything up before bed.”) or set time limits, rather than downsizing.

          • April 10, 2016

            I had the same problem for years! I tried tables, bins, etc. the swoop bag has been the best thing ever. http://www.swoopbags.com

        • April 11, 2016
          Alex

          Hi Jessica ! I am not a parent, definitely an adult, but I still play with my legos. So I may be the last person that should reply to your question ! And yet … I am not sure legos should be considered problematic. I have spent days playing legos on my own or with all of my family building huge space base projects across the rooms … Best memories ever ! Maybe you could join in the fun instead?

        • April 11, 2016
          Christina

          Hi Jessica,
          Put the timer with him, e.g. 15 min before dinner or bedtime. Legos not back in the box, when the timer rings, gets picked up by mum/dad and goes for a e.g. 2 week “holiday” in the garage.

  • March 24, 2016
    Kathryn

    Love these ideas. I have read a few of the books you referenced but I so quickly forget the practice of what I have learned!

    • March 24, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Kathryn. So easy to forget with so much going on as a parent so happy it helped.

  • March 25, 2016
    Phoebe

    Thanks for your wonderful words of common sense and wisdom. So resonates with me. I am really enjoying exploring your articles here, and am looking forward to reading simplicity parenting as a result of your posts. Keep up the inspiring parenting – and keep sharing. (Ps your going to LOVE NZ!)

    • March 25, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Phoebe and thrilled you’re enjoying the posts. I’m loving the blog and meeting likeminded parents online. We’re excited about NZ – we used to live there and will be great to catch up with grandparents. Also going to Australia which is where I’m from. And doing my Canadian day job from down there – will bea fun experiment! All the best and look forward to hearing from you again.

  • March 26, 2016
    Majella

    I have 3 children aged 5,8 and 9. We culled our children’s toys ages ago and are quite careful about what they getc now. I was so surprised at some of the outcomes. They argue less and share more, there is less gender based arguments about their toys and they have entirely stopped arguing about tidying up as it’s not an overwhelming chore anymore. Also they are less obsessed with buying more toys.
    Lately when they complain of being bored… I laugh and tell them how lucky they are! They are beginning to understand 😉

    • March 26, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      That’s so good to hear Majella. I didn’t cover siblings and we only have one child at the moment so this is a brilliant perspective to add to the discussion. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • March 31, 2016

    Really nice ideas! I love to stimulate the curiosity of my son to explore nature. It is great that we are also living in a beautiful place where we can enjoy the natural views and fresh air. Thank you for the post! 🙂 Good luck!

    • March 31, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Inez and I’m happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading.

  • March 31, 2016
    Debbie Cook

    Tracy your site has been a joy to read. As a grandparent we are vitally interested in the challenges and choices our children have raising our grandchildren and one generation can always improve on the last as you have so rightly pointed out. I so admire the hard choices our girls make over things like screen time and so when our grandees come to stay we want to walk the talk even though a 6 and 8 year old know that it’s always worth asking a doting grandparent for ‘just a few minutes on your IPad please D’. Early one morning with 3 over night grandsons snuggled in bed with me I responded to this request ( after reading books which always come first) with ‘yes but we’re going to watch fotos’. We have a family sharing site that links our extended family and so for 30 minutes we all scrolled through the last months of them or their cousin, aunt and uncle in Oz etc and recalled surfing, tree climbing, cricket awards, fishing trips, videos of swimming prowess, friends……great screen time reinforcing the power of family and inspiring lots of dialogue recalling recent happy times….. and after that they were up and off that was it for the day. Thank you for your beautiful writing I will look forward to learning more from you and seeing you in NZ . Much love Deb

    • April 01, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much Deb – really appreciate your positive comments and happy you’re enjoying the site. It’s a labour of love 🙂 Great ideas you’ve shared on using screen time in a healthy way. We’ve been doing a similar thing with our little guy – I deleted Netflix and YouTube off my phone a while ago so now he just watches videos we make together of our little family and photos from downunder. He loves them and feels a lot better. We try to save any shows for the TV which seems less addictive than devices. Little man and Mr G have been watching David Attenborough documentaries lately which has been amazing – little man’s favorite are “big idzies” (Komodo dragons!). Excited to see you in NZ and thanks again so much for your support. Trace xx

  • March 31, 2016
    Marianne

    Hi Tracy, what a fantastic article! Makes me want to get outside!

    • March 31, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Marianne – thrilled it had that effect 🙂

  • April 02, 2016
    Donna

    Wow! My heart resonated with this. I think the problems we are seeing in the classroom may be linked to a need for over stimulation. I am shocked at the hours my students, who are fifth graders, tell me they spend on screens. Thanks:)

    • April 02, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Pleasure Donna and happy you enjoyed it. I agree on the screens – technology is moving so fast now it feel like we don’t have a chance to react and adjust before the effects are already seen. Thanks again for reading.

  • April 02, 2016
    Shannon

    Thanks for your articles! We live in northern Minnesota and have a 9 month old granddaughter. She lives a few miles away so we get to spend lots of time with her. We will enjoy being minimalists with her, as we’ve already seen the benefits in our own lives. Please keep writing!!!

    • April 02, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Oh thank you Shannon! That’s very kind and I appreciate the words of encouragement. Makes me so happy to get positive feedback and see it’s making a difference. Enjoy your 9 month old granddaughter – such a wonderful age. We just arrived in NZ today and our little man is so excited to be spending time with his Grandma (and so is she). Thanks again and see you again 🙂

  • April 04, 2016
    Holly Ravenhorst

    My husband and I moved our family with three young kids to Haiti seven months ago. Our life is much more simple and we spend more time with our children. Just move to a third world country! ?

    • April 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      I can just imagine Holly. Simpler times – we’re craving it too 🙂

  • April 09, 2016

    Phenominal article, I am a big fan! Spot on!

    • April 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much for your words of encouragement Josh!

  • April 10, 2016
    MK

    I have a son with intense mood swings, ADHD and autism. Last week I got rid of 10 boxes of books to a thrift shop. This week I’ll challenge myself to do same and rid us of accumulation & clutter. He cannot maintain interest in anything it seems and triggers easily. This couldn’t hurt. He’s a hoarder but hardly plays at all alone. I’ll have to get get rid of stuff on sly. Trains everywhere, 5 varieties from Legos to Lionel. I’m going in.

  • April 11, 2016

    Love this. Some of my favorite memories as a child where those unstructured times with the raw elements of nature. Climbing trees with my cousins and collecting those little helicopter seeds (does anyone know what I mean by that) and letting them drift down. Catching bugs and gardens snakes etc. I think a huge part of my creativity developed now as an adult can be attributed to that.
    Rebecca recently posted…Our Mission!

  • April 11, 2016
    kris

    I dig my heels in when it comes to invading my kids’ free time. They are in school or day care all week, so they need time to just “be”. I turn down most invitations if they are going to tax us more than we gain from them. We keep meals no – fuss so that we have more time to interact. We do not allow commercials or adult programming when the kids are up. And cartoons that promote poor behavior are out too, and it’s saved us a lot of grief so far. I need this down time as well. I turn off my phone as soon as all my kids are home, and don’t turn it on again until one of them is out of the house. I may need to dig out the digital camera because I find myself carrying it around to take pictures (or find an answer to the first grader’s never ending list of random questions about the world)… I like the idea of putting it away entirely.

  • April 11, 2016
    Cathy

    Great read! I love the idea of simplifying. I did a long paper on it in college and I admire Saint Francis for it! I struggle with bringing toys into the house that my boys don’t need or truly want. We go on toy breaks frequently and lately we have been having a screen detox! It’s been great. A frustration I have is playing outside. I grew up on a farm and was outside constantly. I was bored back then but I sure do miss it now, of course! We live in a subdivision and have a small front yard but a big backyard with two small trees. There is not much “nature” out there! The road is too busy to play on. We do have a basketball goal. Any suggestions for quality nature time in such a man made environment? Thanks!

  • April 12, 2016
    Most Expensive Jewelry

    Hi, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your writing style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

    • April 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much – very kind and shall do!

  • April 12, 2016
    pamela

    I cannot get my son to concentrate and write faster at school.I need advice.

    • April 14, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Sorry to hear it Pamela – I can highly recommend Simplicity Parenting which may help. It goes into a lot more depth than I can on my blog posts. Also on the Simplicity Parenting website they offer consultations which may help as well. Wishing you all the best.

  • April 13, 2016
    Sarah

    I loved reading this and will share as it’s one of the lovliest parenting posts I have read. I fully agree with all of it. I have a 3.5 year old and we also have 2 dogs. I love having the opportunity to take him out on the dog walks with me. From our apartment we can walk to a safe, quiet, nature-trail type of space and we all really enjoy it. It makes my heart sing when he stoops down and says “look Mummy, purple flowers, they’re beautiful!” – And I am then reminded to look at and listen to the details in nature. This article also reminds me that the dog walks are not a chore but a blessing – to get us both out into nature.

    • April 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thank you Sarah – so happy you liked it and appreciate you sharing it! Your little man sounds a lot like mine. I washed and dried my hair the other day and my little man said “beautiful mama” – when he says things like that it makes my heart skip. Your boy sounds amazing. And the dogs – absolutely, such a blessing. Enjoy! We hope to adopt another pet soon, we lost our cat two years ago and miss him so much. Thanks again and happy you enjoyed the article!

  • April 13, 2016
    Granny Eklund

    I am a mother of two men, who are one 41&42. They both have families. The oldest & his wife have chosen to have a family of 7, 5 boys & 2 girls. They would have had more however God chose differently. The younger son & his wife were not given a choice and God saw fit that they would have 1 little girl. All this to say the first sons children are being raised minimalist, home schooled, no TV, no game boys etc. 1 computer that is required for school, all 5 boys have a boys cave and share one big bedroom. The girls share a princess castle in one smaller bedroom. The children are all under 12. Dad & Mom share these golden years with their children as they grow. There is no such thing as organized sports and activities. There is nominee for such things. They are a strong Christian family. The second son & his wife live totally opposite. Obviously their choices are different because they have one child. They are both working parents in very successful careers. Their daughter is in a private Christian school and to active in all things organized. She has a cell phone, TV, computer & everything she wants when she wants it. They travel the world with her. Being with her is like being with another almost adult. As their grandparents we have been able to witness both ways of life. If we were to choose one it would be the day and age we were raised…life was uncomplicated full of adventure…not voil of sorrows…but good & filled with love…! I pray this article of yours touches many of today’s parents so that the have time to adjust their families pathways in life.

    • April 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      What an insight – thank you! We have one child at the moment – it took us three years to conceive our little man so we feel blessed with one, but maybe one day will extend our family. Even though we aim for simplicity you’ve given me a reminder of how important it is to be conscious of it every day. Thanks again for reading and for leaving such a wonderful comment.

  • April 14, 2016
    Jo

    My husband and I have been greatly disturbed lately when we go out to eat to see parents handing very young children their phones or iPads, and the children jump onto the technology and then there is no discussion during dinner. Technology has become a babysitter to an extreme level.

  • April 14, 2016

    What a lovely, well-written and thought provoking article – I love it! My sister sent it to me as it resonates completely with what I try so hard daily to achieve with my two busy girls and have started a blog about. Finding simplicity really is an everyday challenge and this is a great reminder to keep pursuing it… We have relocated several times in the past few years and it’s a great excuse to get rid of things, but equally we cherish the things we do choose to hang on to. However, after Christmas and both birthdays it’s now about time to have another good sort 😉 I’m so grateful that we live somewhere that makes an outdoor lifestyle so easy and look forward to years of simple adventures. Wishing you and your family the same, enjoy NZ and let us know if you’re heading to Tauranga/Mount Maunganui 🙂 Thanks again for such an inspiring article, Love & Lovelyness, Holly xx

  • April 26, 2016
    Shawn

    You spelled minimize wrong on number 7.

    • April 26, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Shawn – I’m not American so I don’t always use American English.

  • August 17, 2016
    Carmel

    We have gotten to a stage where we have literally thrown the baby out with the bath water. While there are so many things we needed to improve on- there were so many things that were just right. I share the principle of non-commercialisation. Live with what you have around you. Do we need more ?

    • August 20, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks so much for reading Carmel and agree completely. Simple is best.

  • November 08, 2016
    Vidya

    Wow great article.I liked your mantra of hiding the phone (out of sight out of mind)and working on this habit for 3 weeks,thereby reducing phone or ipad usage.I am going to follow this and see how it works for my family.As it is becoming tough to keep kids away from gadgets.Thank you.

    • November 13, 2016
      Tracy Gillett

      Thanks Vidya and it’s so true – out of sight out of mind. I hope it helps you too!

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