Step Away From the Screen

Simplicity Parenting advocates for an old-fashioned approach

By Erin Rook

simplicity parenting

Between shuttling kids to various extra-curricular activities, monitoring their internet usage, and making sure they aren’t existing on mac and cheese alone, modern parenting can be
overwhelming. But, to borrow an iPhone slogan, there’s a philosophy for that!

Simplicity Parenting, the aptly named movement founded by Kim John Payne—author of the book by the same name—seeks to remedy a parenting culture addicted to chaos, and
replace it with values and practices ripped from the pages of history.

“Simplicity parenting is all about slowing down and taking time, dialing back on over stimulation and over scheduling, reducing high impact foods, reducing media and creating a simple, predictable family rhythm,” explains Erin Hansen, a Bend mother who serves on the board of the local Waldorf school. “By simplifying we can help protect childhood and
allow children the opportunity for self-discovery.”

She goes on to point out that Waldorf principles, which emphasize a low-tech approach to education that relies on hands-on activities grounded it imagination and nature to convey age appropriate lessons, closely align with Payne’s parenting philosophy—and, late last year, the school hosted the author. Hansen points out that Payne’s theories are based on
his decades of experience counseling busy families, and an observed connection between over-scheduling and over-stimulation and disorders such as ADHD and anxiety, which are diagnosed with increased frequency. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children ages 8-10 spend an average of eight hours each day in front of a screen—including TV, computer, tablet and phone. For teens, that jumps up to 11 hours or more a day. The AAP recommends limiting entertainment screen time to one or two hours per day.

“At the core of Waldorf education is a curriculum brought forth with a strong rhythm which introduces concepts and information at the best time of day, the appropriate time of
the year, and at the optimal time in a child’s life,” Hansen explains. “Children are really given the opportunity to explore their world, the information they are being introduced to, and
to ask the questions which open up new ideas or thinking.”

She sees the approach as an antidote to an increasingly hectic world in which parents struggle to establish meaningful connections with their children. For Hansen, the proof is in the pudding. She says that while her family may not adhere as strictly to the Waldorf approach as some, simplifying their lifestyle has made a remarkable difference.

“The biggest challenge for most parents is changing their perception of what is too much,” she asserts. “We are so programmed to think more, bigger, better, faster is the way to go, when in fact it is quite the opposite.”

And even when families overcome that philosophical hurdle, Hansen says it can take time to adjust to a new way of connecting.In the long run, she says, it’s worth it. Though the typical
distractions can give the appearance of convenience, Hansen says all that stimulation can increase stress and reduce connection.

“As parents, we all have hopes and dreams for our children. Who they will become in the future depends upon the strength, security and comfort we can provide for them now,” Hansen says. “If we can create better relationships with our children now by simplifying their lives and thereby lowering their stress levels, parenting can become easier and we can enhance the joy of being a parent.”

To learn more about Simplicity Parenting, visit simplicityparenting.com.

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