Thoreau went to the woods to suck the marrow out of life; here, I hope to drain every drop from the books I read, rather than tossing them aside and saying vaguely, “Oh yes, I read that once,” when they come up in conversation.
I’m a Christ-follower, a wife, a mother, a wannabe novelist (with a complete manuscript, no less!), and—of course—a reader. Stick around, poke around, speak up, and enjoy…and definitely recommend your favorites, because my mile-long to-be-read list could always be longer!
Subtitle: “Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids”
And that sounded good to me. As I read, I realized that I already knew (and planned to do) a lot of these things, but the affirmation was terrific. Our society presses for–as the author says–”More! Faster! Earlier!” it is difficult to fight the tide and choose less. Less scheduling, less events, less stress, less hovering.
If you’re looking for affirmation that you, too, can jump from the bandwagon of hyperparenting and overscheduling, I highly recommend this book…though the prose is choppy and commas are waaaaaaay overused, which slowed me down and annoyed me, so beware of that. Still, the content is worth a bit of struggle.
And now, I’ll let some of my favorite bits speak for themselves (starting with one I shared in my last post) :
“Books offer such delight and satisfaction to children, conjuring magical worlds and bringing the wonder of our own right into their hands. How could it be possible to have ‘too many’ of such good things?
It is a bit easier to imagine the ‘too much of a good thing’ principle with books when our children have entered the ‘series’ section of the library or bookstore. A child is racing through ‘Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series!’ in a rush to pull ahead of their friend is not reading so much as consuming When a desire for the next thing is at the heart of an experience, we’re involved in an addiction, not a connection” (87, emphasis mine).
“That’s it! Enrichment. As parents, we’ve discovered fertilizer. And we’re applying it by the ton to childhood” (138). This comes after a description of a girl doing handstands, playing a blade of grass like a kazoo, daydreaming about the ice cream truck…moments and hours and lazy days that kids need rather than constant “enrichment” through classes, clubs, and sports. These things can be good, but when they push out the unstructured joy of childhood, they can be damaging: “Too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to motivate and direct themselves” (138).
“After all, as a society we parents have signed on to be our children’s lifelong ‘entertainment committees.’ We’re unpaid performers, that’s for sure, but performers nonetheless. And we take it seriously. As such, we’re accustomed to seeing our children’s boredom as a personal failure. A break in the festivities…and we are liable to jump up and dance. No wonder we’re exhausted” (143).
“Physicians are accustomed to being ‘on call,’ but now we all are: twenty-four hours a day…So when our cellphone rings just as we’re trying to squeeze onto the off-ramp…physiologically we go from moderate to a hyperarousal state quite quickly. And we have a hard time returning to a calm state. Sorry to say, this is a symptom of high stress. We could all use more ‘moments of Sabbath’ built into our lives” (147, emphasis mine).
“When we allow this ‘on-demand’ mentality to color our children’s perspectives and schedules, then they lose the gift of anticipation…Do you remember yearning for summer? Literally counting down the days? When you back off the treadmill loop of planned activities, you make room for pauses, you make time for anticipation and reflection” (149).
“We often bathe our children in words. By keeping a running commentary on everything they do, we mean to assure them that we’re noticing. Yet the more we’re talking, the less we are really noticing” (185, emphasis mine).
“In a noisy world, quiet attentiveness speaks louder than words, and it gives a child more space for their own thoughts and feelings to develop” (187).
“When you act to limit what you don’t want for your family, you clarify what you really do need, what is important to you. Your values clarify. Simplification is a path of self-definition for the family” (215, bold emphasis mine).
Our Christian faith defines our core values (worship of Christ, loving our neighbors, etc.), but we choose smaller things as a family. After reading this book, I plan to simplify Pookie’s toys a bit further (at least taking some out of rotation for a while), be more consistent with our daily routines, try to give her more independent play time (though as we’re weaning she’s rather clingy), and keep the TV off while she’s awake.