Monday, April 25, 2011

1, 2, 3, .... 29! Wow, 29 Play-Doh's -- That's Too Many Play-doh's, and Other Thoughts on Simplicity Parenting

Last week our nanny arrived for her afternoon time with the kids, and the first item on her agenda was to straighten up the play area. She started by attempting to get the "play-doh situation" under control. Our 2 year old son LOVES play-doh. It is a great creative outlet for him. It is also cheap, and we've received a ton of it for gifts. Not thinking, we allowed him to open each new package without waiting for an already opened container to run its course, i.e. dry out. As a result, he had 29 containers of play-doh. Her comment, directed more to herself than anyone, struck a cord with me.

It has been on the back of my mind to de-clutter our home, starting with the mass amount of kids items we've collected over two and a half years of parenting. We have tried to keep the toys to a minimum; primarily by not holding events where people show up with a gift in hand. Compared to the average American home with a toddler and a baby, we have very little "stuff". But yet, it still feels like we have too much. Especially if the concept of "simplicity parenting" is a goal. I first learned about this concept through the playgroup at the Madison Waldorf School. The author, Kim John Payne recently visited Madison, WI, and gave a talk on the subject. The movement, as he calls it, can be summed up as follows:

Environment: De-cluttering too much stuff at home.

Rhythm: Increasing predictability by introducing rhythmic moments for connection and calm.

Scheduling: Soothing violent schedules brings moments for Being into all the Doing.

Unplugging: Reducing the influence of adult concerns, media and consumerism on children and families to increase resilience, social and emotional intelligence.

As we move forward on the parenting journey, we are attempting to integrate these concepts into our lives. We already have a no-screen time policy for the kids. They've never had it, so they are not missing much.

Yesterday, during nap time, I gathered up all the cheap, plastic baby toys and boxed them away. What remains is a wicker basket with baby toys made of natural fibers; finger puppets, a wood rattle, organic rubber teething toy, etc. She seems delighted even though half of her toys are gone. The concepts of simplicity parenting appeal to me on many levels, including my frugal side. Next on my agenda, put away 3/4 of our son'd play-doh containers until his supply needs to be replenished.

What are other people's experiences with "simplicity parenting"?


  1. I'm 100% behind you on this. Quality over quantity. One special doll, two stuffed animals. When all these became (relatively) cheap and we increased our living spaces (two living rooms? really??) the amount of cheap large plastic grew and grew.
    To my in-laws, object gifts were a hard won right. Both were lower income working class and lived frugally -- until it came to gift giving. Then all hell broke loose. Every holiday brought with it mountains of boxes. We could not reign them in!
    So, my comment is that it's a process. That no one act accomplishes your goals. But it's a fun and fine journey!

  2. I'm convinced those play-do containers multiply in the basement when I'm not looking.