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PARENTING SIMPLY: Conversation and Resource Guide

Some of the ideas discussed at the recent Parenting Simply Conversation;
• Be present
• Have a playful attitude
• Don’t sweat the small stuff (Does it really matter if your child wears pajamas to the grocery store?)
• Reduce choices (Including activities and food options.)
• Trust your intuition. (Make decisions based on what is right for you and not out of guilt.)

If you missed the conversation, watch the video and read our list of resources….

How do we connect with our kids while juggling work, home and child-care? How do families create a meaningful lifestyle while parenting simply? We shared tips and ideas on how to foster balance and peace of mind at Local 121 on March 7, 2011.

Some of the ideas discussed; Be present, Have a playful attitude, Don’t sweat the small stuff (Does it really matter if your child wears pajamas to the grocery store?), Reduce choices (Including activities and food options.), and Trust your intuition. (Make decisions based on what is right for you and not out of guilt.)

If you missed the conversation, join in now. Watch the video here.


2011 Parenting Simply Panel and ModeratorJohanna Corcoran

The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD
Timeshifting: Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life by Stephan Rechtschaffen

Reduce Clutter
– Give “Experience Gifts” instead of toys and games. Memories from experiences like art lessons, theater performances and picnics will outlast the latest toy.
– Encourage your family to recycle books through www.paperbackswap.com. When you post a book and another member wants it, you get to choose a “new- to-you” book from the thousands of titles other members have listed.
– Ditch TV shows with commercials. Commercials can make children think they have to have that latest toy or gadget. You’ll accumulate less clutter and save money if you DVR shows or stream from Netflix.

– Declare one weekend day per month “DO NOTHING DAY” for your family. Stay home, sleep late, have brunch, be goofy, and connect with each other.
– Leave little notes for your children in places they would not expect: A coat pocket, in a pencil case or as a bookmark in a book they are reading.
– Establish or resurrect family traditions. These fill a person’s soul more than any material possession.

Janice O’Donnell

Play With Your Kids! A How-To, Why-To Guide for Parents: My tips for balancing everyday life, published by Providence Children’s Museum.

PlayWatch: Connecting the Community to Promote Children’s Play: Join the conversation about the importance of unstructured play on this Museum-hosted email discussion listserv.  Subscribers can share information, articles, resources, events and more — including ideas about what we, as a community, can do to safeguard children’s play.

Alliance for Childhood: Promotes policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning and joy of living; links to articles, resources and reports, including the Time for Play info sheet.

Free Range Kids: A tips-info-outrage exchange forum hosted by Lenore Skenazy, author of the book of the same name, that shares “how to raise safe, self-reliant children (without going nuts with worry).”

Playborhood: A blog committed to bringing back free, unstructured play for our children, with the goal of building a community of parents who are more aware of the problem, discuss solutions, and implement the best of those solutions.

Hassle-free (or minimum-hassle) things to do with kids:
– Walk along the beach.  Trace each other’s shadows in the sand.  Look for beach glass, pretty stones, cool shells.  Dig in the sand.
– Walk in the woods.  Join a Rhode Island Families in Nature hike.
– Go to the zoo.  First thing in the morning is best.  Spend as much time as your kids want watching the giraffes or gibbons.  Bring snacks.
– Go to the children’s museum — especially Providence Children’s Museum — but any children’s museum  and follow your kids’ lead.
– Hang out in the library on a rainy day.  Spend the whole afternoon reading together and separately. Some libraries have toys, so the kids can play while you read.

Hannah Marcotti

1. Buy whole foods: Shop on the outside edges of the grocery store for most of your food, or shop at the farmer’s market. Vegetables, grains, beans, fruits, pastured meats should be the bulk of your cart.

2. Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne: Every parent should read this book and give it as a gift to someone else. Tips on staying simple in all areas of parenting.

3. Create simple rituals: Tea in the morning, singing while you brush your teeth, who gets in the car first and who gets out first. We all love to know what to expect; it creates security and safety.

4. Abundance Jar: A jar that each member of the family contributes to for saving up for something special. This might be a family vacation, a new game or an ice cream party.

5. Exhale. Return To Center: One of my favorite blogs because Erin keeps it real by giving us honesty, inspiration and support for being a mother and woman.

6. Take turns: When one parent is stressed and needs a break, have a signal that lets them know you are taking over. Parenting is awesome and really hard work. Give each other breaks and support.

7. Green smoothies: Start your day with greens. Call it a monster smoothie, alien blood or energy blast. It is fun to make using simple whole ingredients and shows our children that greens are awesome.

8. Clean Food by Terry Walters: Simple meals and ingredients that will help you keep meal time manageable.

9. Create sacred space: Carve out time that is just for you. A few minutes each day to focus, relax and create calm in your mind and body. It might be a quiet meal, a cup of tea and a candle, a brisk walk, 10 minutes of yoga…

10. Accept support: When it’s offered, say yes. Say yes again. When you have extra energy, offer support to someone else. Pay it forward; use your community and friends.

Jill Davidson

1. Eat dinner together. Due to work and other commitments, we don’t do this every night, but we are relentless about having dinner together as often as our schedules permit. There is no substitute for checking in face to face (to face to face to face, since there are five of us).

2. Leave enough time. If you have enough time, it seems easier to avoid a crisis and keep your cool. Accept that things are going to go wrong, that kids are going to need extra help and time. Allowing a few extra minutes for whatever you’re doing helps create good conditions for dealing well when things go bad.

3. Have kids do as much as they possibly can for themselves. The more kids can do for themselves, the less you have to do. They feel more competent, you can marvel at their competence, and everyone feels good.

4. Rely on routines and agreements. When you and your kids know what to expect, everyone’s a lot happier. If someone is not happy, see tip #5.

5. Be a hard ass, sometimes. Be willing to say no, set limits, and stand by your decisions. Life is simpler when parents and kids know where the boundaries are.

6. Make it easy to have fun. Find activities to do with your kids and for your kids to do by themselves and with each other that keep it simple. Have fun together with a deck of playing cards, a few sticks of sidewalk chalk, and a ball to toss back and forth.

7. Ask for help. Having family, friends, and others who you can ask for help when you need it can make all the difference. We can’t do it all ourselves.

8. Know what to let go. There’s no way that most of us can do everything at once. Know what’s important to you and let the rest go. For us, it’s important to have a healthy, fun dinner together. If that means that not all of the Legos get picked up in the living room, so be it.

9. Be fair. The best parenting tip I ever received: My friend Nick, a father of three, told me when our third son arrived, “You will never be able to pay equal attention to all of them at once. Just make sure you revolve who you’re ignoring and it’ll all work out.” That has helped me so much, and I really do try to think carefully about how much attention each kid is getting.

10. Make mistakes/be forgiving. You’re in it for the long haul with your family, so be as gracious as you can be when someone screws up, and you’ll get the same in return.

Anisa Raoof

I am inspired by the tips and resources shared by Jill, Janice, Hannah and Johanna. Thank you. I would also add a few ideas that help me parent simply:

Pot luck parties. Sharing the cost of buying food and time to cook food with others makes getting together with friends more fun and less of a burden. Trying new recipes and learning about other cultures is an added bonus.

Pack car with essentials. Having a stocked car helps with everyday travel and unexpected mishaps. I currently stock reusable grocery bags, a blanket, papertowels, Kleenex, pencils, quarters for parking meters, maps, a first-aid kit, wipes, and soccer ball and basketball for impromptu games after school. What I used to stock: Lots of diapers and extra change of clothes.

Birthday gift registry. We select the boys’ favorite store (last two years: Books on the Square) and have guests contribute to a joint gift certificate. Simple for parents, reduces excessive toy clutter and supports our local community.

Learn to say no. Although I love to volunteer at school, take on extra projects for work and start more things than I can finish, I am learning to say “No” more often leaving more time for me and my family.

Pay it forward. I have been fortunate over the years with generous friends, neighbors and family who help with shoveling snow, watch my kids and bring us food when needed. We like to share this generousity, and whenever possible my husband and I (and now our kids) do small favors and help others. No scorecard needed.

Crafternoons (Crafting in the afternoon with friends). Carving out time to be creative is essential to my soul. Finding time to see friends always a challenge. Combining the two is multi-tasking at it’s best.

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1 comment
  • I really wish I could have attended! I’m glad the book Simplicity Parenting is mentioned here–it’s wonderful. And now don’t I feel smart, knowing that the fact that my toddler goes to the market in her jammies at least once a month is a strategy? 😉 There are lots of ideas here I already follow but definitely some others I’ll look into!