What is Simplicity Parenting?

We all get tired of the clutter that inevitably comes with raising children: The stream of toys and clothes all in and out of the house, the apps, games, TV shows, the schedules…  Most parents have come to accept the mess as inevitable; a part of the job, just something that has to be.

But what if someone told you that all that mass of stuff is hurting your child’s development, their self-confidence, and their ability to do well in school?  That the accumulation of small stresses is getting in the way of their concentration and enjoyment?

Less is Always More

Many parents are thinking twice about the clutter, the material mess, and the excesses of modern technology – and coming up with simpler ways to raise their little ones. This is a movement that has gained popularity through Kim John Payne’s book: Simplicity Parenting, and the philosophy can be summed up succinctly as, “less is more.”

It’s not just about making parents’ lives easier by having fewer things to pick up around the house. It’s about reducing stress in children’s lives so they can learn more easily. Stress and an overly fast paced life reduce our adult ability to use our cognitive functions well.  Just imagine what those same conditions do to our kids. No wonder there are more and more learning difficulties in school. Many kids are just plain too jumpy from their over-scheduled, incredibly cluttered lives.

Children Feel Pressure

“With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time – children feel the pressure,” explains the Simplicity Parenting home page. It goes on to say that parents can reclaim their children’s time, space, and freedom through the idea that a calm, predictable environment better allows children to learn and to be creative.  So all those piles of toys designed for imaginative play may be doing more harm than good.

Parents who have made the move towards increased simplicity report that their children:

  • Are calmer and happier
  • Do better socially and emotionally
  • Are more focused at school
  • Find it easier to comply with family rules
  • Become less picky eaters

 How to Begin the Simplicity Movement at Home?

Most parents will jump at the chance for happier, healthier children… But where do you start? Toys first come to mind. Take a look at your child’s play area with fresh and simple eyes… Are you overwhelmed with it all? Does it feel chaotic? Does it make you want to look away?

It might feel that way to your kids too. When things look jumbled up, it’s hard to relax and enjoy individual activities.  And the visual stress can create emotional ones too.

Fewer Toys and More Time with Them

Simplicity isn’t just a matter of getting children to do a better job cleaning up.  It’s about having fewer toys that get more attention, more thoughtful experimentation, more exploration.

Boys especially need to be given more time with individual toys, according to author Kim John Payne, because boys need much more time to process information.  When children have fewer choices to make with toys and even books, they tend to develop deeper connections with them.  

Patience develops when a child plays with the same toy over and over. New creative inspirations arise from playing with a familiar toy in a new way. A child won’t have these valuable experiences if they’re always being handed something new.

Clutter and Information Overload

In addition to environmental clutter, simplicity parenting identifies other areas of focus to bring about change. Children can benefit from simplicity in their rhythms and schedules, as well as from filtering out the adult world.


Increasing predictability by introducing rhythmic moments for connection and calm contributes to a child’s emotional stability. Make sure to set up rhythms and triggers to help your little ones with change. For example, give your kiddo a 10 minute warning before you clean up/have dinner/go somewhere. And respect a young one’s needs for calmness after an exciting playtime or trip outdoors—they might need to simply stare at the wall for a while.

It’s not just toddlers and young children who benefit from predictable, calm routines. Teenagers are already dealing with so much stimulation and change in their lives, and can really enjoy a home life that has simple routines. It is often these moments of “downtime” between activities that parents find the most satisfying conversations with their young and older kids.


The Simplicity Parenting philosophy takes the view that children’s schedules are sometimes “violent” to their true needs. Childhood is a slow unfolding of characteristics and abilities, not a time for checklists of achievements.  Instead of over-activity, set up “soothing the schedules”.

Over-scheduled kids and helicopter moms have become a cultural cliché, and hopefully, everyone understands that it’s simply too much for kids to be pushed into activities every day of the week. Let them be bored, let them think of something new to do on their own, and let them simply play.

Filter out the Adult World

Also known as, “unplugging,” filtering means to help kids disconnect from adult concerns, media, and consumerism.  These things are the adult world and a child should be concerned pretty exclusively with the matters of daily life, with making friends, and with learning new skills at school.

The adult world feels confusing to kids, and too much contact with it raises stress levels. And remember that stress reduces the ability to learn.

So it’s simple, right? Let them stay out in the backyard and play a little bit longer, say a polite “no, thank you” to more toys, turn off the TV, and have some quiet peacefulness. You’ll probably be rewarded with calmer, happier kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

What are your thoughts on simplicity parenting? Can your family benefit from less clutter?

Tags : simplicity parenting   conscious parenting   mindful parenting   clutter   stress   

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