Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Great Book, A Week Without Kids, and The Results

I came across a book with the title
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
by Kim John Payne
and it was an answer to my prayers. I've been concerned about my kids, the way they play, how much time they spend under our feet, and how crazy our house seemed most of the time and how grumpy I was because of it.
The general overview is that all kids are quirky, I've said it before about my own, they have their own little quirks that makes them uniquely them. When you add stress to those quirks you get disorders, OCD, ADD, ADHD, etc. Stress comes in the form of many things, having too many choices, being overloaded with TV and media, being immersed in the adult world instead of being allowed to dwell in childhood.
The first suggestion is to rid your child's play space of the extras, if it doesn't spark the imagination and foster creativity it goes. My first thought was, I can't do that, we have spent money on those things and we can't just get rid of them. The more I thought about it and the more I read the book I came to realize that I was having anxiety because of my children's things. I disliked going up into their space because of the clutter and chaos. If I, an adult, felt that way when I entered their play room how must they feel about it?
It says that when kids are allowed to be kids without all the distractions, they become more calm and intune with themselves. So I tried one of the suggestions, I left the TV off for 3 days. After lunch on the third day I couldn't find Grant, I put Parker down for her nap and went to find him. He had put himself down for a nap, this is the first time this has ever happened, but I honestly feel because he wasn't being distracted by the extra outside stimulation he was able to feel, I'm tired and I need a nap, then to act on those feelings.
I'm bored is a phrase that I've heard out of Miss Ella's mouth too many times this summer, she seems to think her only options are playing with friends, the computer or the Wii. I've tried reasoning with her, explaining that I didn't have those things as a kid and I was never bored. I tried threatening, saying that I would "find" her something to do. Nothing worked. She had tons of toys and nothing to do. There is a phrase he suggests using in response to "I'm bored" and it's simple, "There's something to do just around the corner". It worked, she came to me, said those words and I responded appropriately. She thought for a few seconds and then, spotted a bag of scrap paper and began to create from it. Awesome! So I knew I had to declutter and eliminate the excess from their life. It just so happened that my children were going to be at Grandma's Week and I would have an empty house and the ability to clean their space thoroughly and minimize. I did it, and it's been wonderful!
Girl's bedroom after, we have only one toy in their room, the rest of it is open space for them to be kids.
Girl's bedroom before (you can't imagine what I found on top of Ella's bed, still amazed).

Parker's future space.

Disorder of before.

Grant's bedroom after (that toy box is virtually empty).

Bedroom before, poor kid, not sure how he slept peacefully in there.
Another after shot, don't you just love his new dresser? $14.99!

Same view before.

This is now our library of toys, the door has a lock on it and they aren't allowed to pull toys out of here (I know some of you are thinking, Nazi Mom, it's okay, I've been called that before and I embrace it). Each Sunday we will open the door for them and they will be able to switch out toys from here from the ones they played with the week before. That way there aren't too many toys to overwhelm them in sight every day and it's manageable for them.

Toy closet before, doesn't it make you uncomfortable?

My favorite space. Each toy on those shelves sparks the imagination. There's relatively few so they can "see" them and make a choice. It is also very easy to clean up and put away, especially when they are only allowed one toy down at a time.
Same section of the room before, can you tell that I hardly ever go up there, it's making me cringe even now when I look at it.
After shot of the kitchen area, they can sit there and create whatever their hearts desire!
Same area before, many of the larger toys were put into the library or into the yard sale pile so that they had plenty of open space to play in.

Other than things being clean and organized the rest of the results are stupendous. My kids came home yesterday, minutes after we finished putting the bunk beds together and loved their new space. There are ten bags of toys and many larger items that are in the garage ready for yard sale, guess how many they've noticed are missing? One, that's it. And when I told Paislee it was gone, she just shrugged, no big deal. Ella asked if we got new carpet while they were gone, then she looked again and realized that I had just vacuumed it. And they are spending time upstairs, they are playing with one toy at a time, they are playing happily together, they are cleaning up without being reminded, they made their own beds this morning, and they are using their imaginations. They haven't said "I'm bored" once since they've been home, they haven't been having melt downs, they aren't irrational, they are calmer, happier kids.
Guess whose parents are calmer and happier as well?


Trina said...

It looks like you were extra busy while the kids were away. I like all the changes you made.

nic said...

You are an inspiration. Will you come to my house while we are on vacation???

Kristen said...

I can totally understand what you were feeling. I am feeling it right now!!! I am going to go pick up that book and see what I can do. Now I just need to find somewhere for the kids to go for a week :). I am completely impressed and inspired (even if I have never actually met you). Tell Jake hello for me!

Kristen- Ricks College friend

Rick and Katie Brady said...

Sounds like a great book everyone should read, thanks for sharing. Your house looks awesome!

Taylor, Wendy, & Girls said...

Sweet dresser. I would have never thought that was the same dresser. You were sure busy. What a nice mom you have. Thanks for taking us swimming.

Mamma Corleone said...

I am shocked! As I read your post I just kept thinking, "Yes! I agree!" This makes so much sense! Everything does look calmer and more peaceful. When my oldest went to camp for a week I emptied her room...even the walls. I took 4 boxes of old toys, junk etc. to DI. She too only missed one thing! I had intended on decorating it with her when she got back but she says she feels "happier" with the walls nearly bear. You're certainly on to something!