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Healthy Snack Options for Your Kids

Jun 19, 2012   //   by Kiera Campbell   //   Nourishing Food, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

A Ring Ding and a box of cookies are convenient snack staples for many kids.  After all, all they have to do is to tear the package and put the sugary treats in their mouths.  But if you are conscientious about the health of your kids and you want to instill healthy eating habits at a young age, then avoid giving a lot of junk foods as snacks.


Try these incredible healthy and easy-to-make snack ideas for children:

1. Spread hummus over toasted whole wheat pitas. It is tasty and filling. Your kids will love it.
2. Slice baby carrots, bell peppers, celery sticks, cucumber, and broccoli. You may steam them. Your kids will have fun as they dip the finger foods into low-fat dips.
3. Give your kids ripe cherry tomatoes to munch on. Have a low-fat dip to go with it. The vivid colors will entice them to try the small tomatoes.
4. Crackers or bread can be fashioned into fun mini-sandwiches that many kids will love. You can put cheese, lunch meat, cucumber slices, and tomato wedges as fillings.
5. Black bean and corn salsa can be partnered with baked tortilla chips. Make sure that you do not serve any hot salsa variations to your kids.
6. Dried fruit, although not a substitute for the much more nutritious fresh or frozen fruit, can be easily stored in a food container inside your child’s school bag.
7. Canned fruits make quick snacks when your kid is on the go. But as much as possible, serve fresh whole foods.
8. Fruit smoothies with yogurt make delicious and healthy snacks.
9. Create fruit kabobs. Stick onto toothpicks berries, melon balls, pineapple chunks, pears, apple slices, and cubed peaches. This is the best way to introduce your kids to different fruits. Ask them about their favorite fruits once they’ve tried your fruit kabob party fare.
10. Give frozen bananas instead of ice creams. Peel a banana then freeze it. Skewer the fruit onto a barbecue stick. Once the banana is frozen, roll it over chocolate syrup. Finally, roll the syrup-covered frozen banana over a bed of chopped nuts. Avoid giving nuts to kids under the age of three.

Kiera S. Campbell is the author of “Yummy Healthy Tummy: The Secrets of Raising Healthy Kids Every Parent Needs to Know!” She is passionate about teaching parents how to help your children grow up to love and choose healthy eating for life. You can read more at


Screen Free Week: Confessions of a Waldorf-Inspired Mom

May 17, 2012   //   by Lindsey   //   Filtering Out the Adult World, Simple Environment, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

It’s 11:30am, you’ve just finished up three hours of work and you have an hour in which to feed your 2 ½ yr old son and ‘attempt’ to get him to take a nap (which he stopped doing about 6 months ago) before your next three hour block of work.  Here’s how it goes down: you plop something down in front of him while you go about cleaning up from the morning’s events; checking and replying to email; preparing and eating your own lunch and constantly reminding him that he better eat his lunch (which he is currently ignoring) so he can go take a nap.  With about 30 minutes to spare, you declare that it’s time for a nap and take your little one upstairs completely wired from the morning activities and then get frustrated when he can’t wind down and fall asleep in the 20 minutes you have left to accomplish the task.  Eventually, you give up and finish preparations for the afternoon which is bound to be extremely difficult with an over-tired, under-fed toddler on your hands.


Fast forward a week; same scenario; same 2 ½ yr old; same 1 hr before the hustle and bustle begins again.  On this day, however, you give your child two choices for lunch: he can have a sandwich or some hummus.  He chooses the latter and you oblige.  You tell him that after lunch he can either choose to take a nap in his bed, or have quiet time upstairs in his room.  He chooses quiet time and asks if you’ll join him upstairs for a few minutes.  You agree.  He finishes eating, helps put his food away and starts upstairs on his own.  After a story, a few minutes of dress-up and some marbles down the homemade paper towel tube marble track, you tell him that you have some work to do, but he can choose to have more quiet time in his room or take a nap in his bed.  He asks you to stay, but after a gentle reminder that after lunch we have quiet time, he settles into the rocking chair with a book.  When the hour is up, he happily rejoins you in your daily work and remains agreeable for the remainder of the day.


What happened here, you ask???  Screen-Free Week, that’s what!


Yes, I’ll admit it; that was me up there in that opening paragraph, completely unaware (or perhaps blissfully ignorant) that my personal computer usage was causing my child’s unappealing behaviors.  Let me backtrack a bit.


For Christmas 2009, my older brother sent me a copy of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  I devoured it and realized that I was on a path with my newborn son that I didn’t want to be on anymore.  We simplified, getting rid of ‘stuff’ in every aspect of our lives from clothes, toys and knick-knacks all the way down to credit cards and debt.  In addition, I very quickly eliminated television from my life and when we moved into a new home, we chose to leave our ‘living room TV’ behind, keeping only one that would reside quietly in my husband’s office for use after our son was in bed.  After a few months without a TV as the focal point in our home, we realized how little we used it and cancelled our cable.  My son hasn’t seen a moment of television since he was about three months old; and I would never, ever compromise on that fact; because, really, a television is a completely useless, time-consuming and energy-sucking device.


Until now, I refused to say similar things about my computer; always making excuses about needing to get ‘work’ done or waiting to hear back from someone about something or some other nonsense which really didn’t matter.  When my old desktop took a nosedive and my husband’s appeared to be doing the same, he opted for a new laptop to serve as a ‘family computer’.  Unfortunately, the best place to house this new screen was in our kitchen.  For a long while, it was easy to ignore.  We were embracing a more Waldorf-inspired, simple lifestyle and I didn’t want that screen distracting my child from his real work: play.  I managed to get all of my work, communicating, etc. finished after he was in bed and the laptop remained closed the rest of the time.  I even remember getting upset with my husband after we first got the new computer for spending hours on end organizing music files and other odds and ends to get things the way he wanted them.  I even took it upon myself to ask if we could move the laptop from the island in the center of our kitchen to the farthest corner of the kitchen table where you literally sit in a tiny nook to use it.  It went on this way for months.  I’m not sure how the change happened, it was probably a slow process, kind of like the ‘frog in a pot of water’ scenario that Kim John Payne describes in Simplicity Parenting….you have no idea what’s going on around you until you finally look up and realize you’re in boiling water and you’d better get yourself out now!


That was me – the frog.  Wondering why my sweet little boy who always played on his own and was rarely disagreeable was turning into the very definition of a child in the ‘terrible twos’.  Then one day, it hit me; it was me; I was the cause of his inner frustrations.  I was also the target and decided a change was in order.


The Plan: No computer for an entire week and then after Screen-Free Week, no usage until after bedtime, just like the TV.  Reestablish a connection; this means meals together and a predictable daily rhythm.  Reread Simplicity Parenting.


Obviously, from the opening paragraphs, you can see it was a successful endeavor.  There are still a few arguments here and there; like when he wants chocolate for breakfast and I have to remind him that it’s oatmeal day or when he declares that he ‘doesn’t like’ the dinner that he helped prepare even before tasting it and I have to remind him that ‘this is what we cooked, so this is what we have to eat tonight.’  Overall, I’d say, we’re sticking with it!


Of course, there were a few other lessons for the week; such as, when you decide to go screen-free for a week, be sure not to find a baby bird in your sandbox and attempt to know what to do with it.  My husband made fun of me on that one, and I did, in fact, have to utilize the internet to learn that I could feed the bird a paste made from egg yolks.  Does that seem horribly wrong to anyone else??


I’ll never say a computer is a completely useless device, but I will say that when it comes to a choice between my child and anything else; my child will always come first.  He’s going to have a little brother soon and it’s a relief to know that all we have to do is stick with this new rhythm and adjustment should be that much easier.  We’ve simplified our lives so much over the past couple of years and I’m proud to say I feel I have finally taken that last big step toward being able to call myself a wannabe Waldorf Mom.

The Surprise Plot Twist in our Screen Free Week – Why eliminating screens made life easier

May 9, 2012   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Simple Environment, Simplicity Stories, Uncategorized  //  10 Comments

Screen Free Week at our house….didn’t go the way I expected.

I was excited to participate in it.  I love the idea of a digital detox….But, since our kids usually see just one show each day, I didn’t expect it to make a huge difference in our home.  I expected to have calmer, more peaceful kids (which I got), but I also expected to get way behind on all those not-kid-friendly tasks I usually try (quite hurriedly!) to knock out during my 30 minutes of “kid-free” time each day.  I have to admit, I was dreading the week after Screen Free Week, when I’d have to catch up on all those chores, un-made phone calls and un-answered emails!

But something miraculous happened in the middle of all that screenless fun.  The week ended, and you know what?  I’m not behind on my weekly chores or jobs.  Laundry isn’t piled up in some room waiting to be put away.  Mold didn’t take over the kitchen sink and I didn’t get fired for my terrible work ethic.   Somehow, I had more time and got more accomplished than I normally do, and felt much less stress about getting it done.  I still played with the kids, and we had great fun….

But they also began to play without me…peacefully…for hours on end.

Several times during the week, I was astonished to look at a clock and realize I had not heard from either of my children in a couple of hours.  I could see them playing right outside the window, but they were so engrossed in what they were doing, and really getting along – getting along so well they didn’t need a mama hovering nearby to help diffuse arguments.

They also didn’t need anyone to give them ideas about how to play.

I try to make it a habit not to ‘entertain’ the kids all the time.  I believe in giving them lots of opportunities to solve their own boredom with creativity – but during Screen Free Week, I hardly had the opportunity to push this little soap box of mine at all.  They were so tapped into their own creativity, they were no longer coming to me to ask me what they could do, and they completely forgot to ask if they could “watch a show” (a question I’m used to fielding 2 or 3 times a day.)

We still made a point to play together, but it was almost always the case that I was simply invited in to join a game they had invented or go on a scavenger hunt they had created.

There were strings tied to sticks with magnets, a fishing game for metal objects under the bed.  There were index cards set strategically around the house with arrows pointing me to a hidden treasure.  There were mud pies….Oh, there were mud pies!  It’s not that these things aren’t normal at our house, they are.  But this week, that they happened with such ease.  There were none of those moments when I had to explain that we would not be watching a show and it was time to think of something else to do.

I was right about one thing with regards to the week – I knew my kids’ well-being (and therefore their behavior) would improve…

But I was completely surprised that the week also might make life easier for me.

Did anyone else experience this? Did you find the week to be more or less stressful?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Thanks very much to our friends at Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood for sponsoring this great event.

Traci lives in the Austin, TX area with her husband and two little boys.  You can visit her blog, Educated for Love, or see the visual daily rhythm charts she makes at A Kid’s Day.





Why Screen Free is Scream Free!

Apr 29, 2012   //   by Kathy White   //   Simple Environment, Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

We have a very simple rule in our house about television or computers.       NONE.

Of course, like all rules, this gets broken from time to time. It gets broken on the occasions when I’ve been working all day and my husband has had a busy day full of child care and he is cooking dinner (yes he is a home husband).  I come home and the children are watching the television. What I know when I find them there is my husband needs some time out.  I don’t bemoan him or berate him for breaking our rule, I simply find a good moment with the children to switch the programme off and ask them what they have been watching and then find another activity to do with them.

I’ve tried the heavy handed “Switch that thing off NOW !” and it can guarantee some screams, clearly doesn’t work – so a more gentle “When will this programme end? okay let’s give it five more minutes..” and then it’s over. And although I don’t want them to watch TV ever, we are lucky in the UK that we have a very simple (by children’s TV standards) channel called CBEEBIES that even an anti TV mom isn’t too offended by…

The computer is another thing altogether…namely because I try to work from home a lot and a lot of my work (like writing blog posts!) is done at a computer…I’m clearly modeling laptop behaviour that my children (they are 5 and 9) are commenting on. “Mummy’s ALWAYS at the computer…” Naturally they want to see what I’m up to. So I’ve let them sit on my lap or next to me on the couch and we’ve looked at pictures or short videos and I’ve let them play a few games. I have broken my own rule many times.

So I’ve modified the rule – no television or computers during term time. Then, in the holidays, they can sit with me (I use Luminosity to play games which apparently improves your brain agility ! Who knows, I can feel as dumb as ever when it comes to raising children !)

Screen free is scream free because we have set rules we all honour and so they generally don’t scream when I switch screens off. They don’t scream and ask for screen time. They really don’t expect it, they are incredibly self-reliant and can make up all sorts of games with a few bits and pieces and tons of imagination. I notice how alive they are to their natural creative playfulness. I sometimes observe other children and how they seem to lack active imaginations, I wonder if there are any studies looking at playfulness and creativity levels in children who have a lot of screen time compared with those who don’t?

We are happy in our generally screen free home and I am glad we make the choices we do to keep the TV and computer off. I would encourage any families out there to give it a try…


Kathy White lives in Findhorn, Scotland and is a Simplicity Parenting Group leader. She works with parents and children all over the world both online and in her travels offering parenting events. She is a qualified Art Therapist offering creative parenting solutions and a Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, a tool for transforming stressful thinking. More details on

Finding Our Way – as Parents, Kids

Mar 13, 2012   //   by Kirsten Andrews   //   Simple Parenting, Uncategorized  //  10 Comments

Recently I did something, as a mother, that was incredibly daring. Neighbours may consider it scandalous. Friends who know me well might raise an eyebrow. It even gave me a little lump in my stomach but I pushed on, knowing how much it meant to my eldest who had just turned six.

I let her walk four blocks to her friend’s house for a play date. Without me. Alone.

After years of walking the route again and again, she knows it better than me. I couldn’t tell you how many blue doors are between our house and theirs. How many driveways and dogs, or backyards with trampolines. But she can.

Thinking about that route, I found myself remembering how, when I was five, I was trusted to walk to and from school everyday — twice, because I went home for lunch. Why couldn’t my six-year-old make it four blocks to her friend’s?

We reviewed the essentials: phone numbers, her address, what to do in case she DID find herself lost. When I called to tell the other mom about her little adventure, there was a short period of silence on the phone. I started to think maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. “Get her to call me as soon as she gets there, OK?” I asked, hoping it would make everything sound better. “She’s walked that way 1,000 times. She knows what to do.” Seconds of silence felt like an eternity.

“We did it. Remember? I even walked to school on my own — when I was five.”

Agreement came quickly then, my last comment offering a way back into the conversation for this woman. “Yes, I guess we did.” And then I was reminded of how much we did at that age. We climbed trees so high we could see over houses, we crossed small rivers, dug out icy caves in the winter, ran through the forest and built forts. All without our parents’ knowledge or, at very least, out of their sight.

No, she could do this. And she did. The power went out in our home moments after she shouted a brave, “Bye mom!” and slammed the front door. I waited about 10 minutes before I picked up the phone and tried to call her friend’s house. But it was dead.

Ah, life will always throw you a curveball when you least expect it. I waited another five minutes before piling my youngest in the van and cruised through the neighbourhood. She was there. She was fine. And she had the biggest smile on her face.

“Guess what I did, mom?!”

“Tell me,” I said with a big grin.

“I walked here all on my own!”

It was like she had learned to walk, ride her two-wheeler, and jump off the diving into the deep end all at once. I wouldn’t take that away from her for anything.

Kirsten Andrews offers Simplicity Parenting courses throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. For more information visit or email her at

Simplicity Parenting Movement in the News

Feb 6, 2012   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Uncategorized  //  No Comments

The Simplicity Parenting movement is seeing a definite strengthening across the nation and has enjoyed some good, extra attention in several recent news features!   These are two great ones you will enjoy if you missed them when they came out.

Last week, Bamboo Magazine featured an interview with Kim John Payne in their “Conscious Close Up”:


Also recently, NBC featured Simplicity Parenting in their series, “Back to Basics”:


What Too Many Toys Can Do

Dec 12, 2011   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Simple Environment, Simple Seasons, Uncategorized  //  No Comments

Are you feeling the temptation yet? This time of year it really does seem that the best way we can honor our children is to shower them with toys! The push to do this may come from commercials or family or from our own desire as a parent to show our kids some love.

This week the Mother Company featured Simplicity Parenting in a wonderful article;  “What Too Many Toys Can Do.” I think you’ll enjoy it, and hope it will give some encouragement to all of us to keep our shopping lists kid-sized, small, simple – remembering the contentment that comes with having enough.

The Season is Upon Us

Dec 5, 2011   //   by Gwendolen Elliott   //   Simple Rituals, Simple Seasons, Uncategorized  //  1 Comment

Winter 1This is the time of year, isn’t it, when all of our intentions to stay slow and mindful are put to the test?  I admit to playing my Christmas music from time to time for a couple of weeks now…okay, 3 weeks, but how can I not fill the house with wintry and festive fiddle music?  I do get, though, that for many people hearing carols the day after Halloween is just too much and despite my love of Celtic carols, I agree.  There are lots of reasons that the seasons are pushed, mainly to encourage people to buy, buy, buy, and through that we lose the sacredness of what we’re actually celebrating.  It’s too bad, but totally understandable, that the holidays are stressful for so many people.  Simplicity gets so lost under the weight of it all- decorating, gifting, cooking, buying, preparing, rushing.

Christmas is my favourite time of year.  I love it for its beauty in the bringing together and celebrating of those we love in our lives.  And the celebrating of something greater than all of us, whatever that may be for each person.  That’s the magic, right?  What makes it special is the very part we can’t quite put into words and explain.

Though I have a lot of Christmas decorations that have been handed down to me and acquired over the years, I’ve decided that this year I’ll be very choosy about what comes out in an effort to help capture that magic.  Our house is already full enough, and I don’t want the decorations to make it feel overwhelming.  Some garland, a nativity set, the tree, of course.  It will be enough.  And through that we can focus on the true meaning of the holidays.  For us, we’ll turn toward the ritual and tradition that fills this season- Advent, St. Nicholas’ Day, Christmas.  In many ways, the it’s the addition of these added celebrations that help in slowing down to take in the moment.  Knowing, too, that how we choose to celebrate is also choosing what kind of experience Coco will have.  Will it be lots of in and out of the car, gifts upon gifts to tear open Christmas morning, and other busyness?  Or will it be reverence, stepping slowly through the festivities, taking it all in like a deep breath; enjoying and creating the space for her to fall in love with the season.

I had this chance as a child.  The magic of all of it lives deep in my heart.  We always had a tree, the special Christmas books were brought out each year, and the same friends visited us every Christmas Eve for a moonlit walk through the woods in search of a yule log to burn.  It was the same every year, and looking back I’m grateful to my parents for nurturing the magic in these very simple ways.  As we approach a very big season, celebrated in very different ways across the globe, I look for inspiration in how best to create magic for Coco, and for myself and Sean, and I turn toward our values and family intention in bringing that magic to life.

Yesterday was the first day of Advent, and it feels to me like a lovely quiet hush that falls over us and transforms the days and weeks before Christmas into a time of inner warmth and ritual; days spent telling stories, lighting candles, and inviting the peace of the holidays to settle in.  Wishing you much of the same as you bring the magic of the holidays to life!

Gwen Elliott is inspired by family feasts, celebrations and rituals, and the magic of everyday, simple living.  She lives in North Vancouver with her husband, daughter and faithful black dog, Scout.  Her inspiration to build family foundations and traditions is chronicled on her blog, barn raising.

It’s Giveaway Time! An Interview with Sparkle Stories…

Nov 28, 2011   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Uncategorized  //  112 Comments

A few years ago, I became very conscious of the impact stories had on my son (now age 4.)  Stories have helped him overcome fears, accept new challenges, and have even shaped his behavior as he imitates the characters.  At the same time, I noticed how most stories in popular children’s media did not reinforce our values of simplicity or wonder, and how many of the characters were simply not worthy of his imitation!

Around this time we found Sparkle Stories and fell in love.  After seeing the many positive ways these audio stories have impacted our family, I approached David and Lisabeth (creators of Sparkle) to consider doing a giveaway on our blog.  Today, we are delighted to introduce you to this incredible family who is offering great tools for families trying to make the shift from screen media to home-spun stories.

Today’s giveaway winner will receive a 3 month subscription to Sparkle Stories.

On top of this, a special offer for all Simplicity Parenting readers (regardless of whether you win the giveaway) – You can subscribe to your first month of Sparkle Stories for only $1.  The code is: 06D3 (the first digit is a zero).   Just enter it when signing up!

And now – let’s sit down for a conversation with David and Lisabeth Sewell McCann:

SP:  What first got you interested in storytelling?

David: I found early on that storytelling had a powerful effect on the listener. I found that the 3rd grade bully left me alone when I told him a story about a chimpanzee in my basement. I realized that teachers loved stories and never grew tired of listening to them. In short, I learned at an early age that being a compelling storyteller was an effective way to get what I wanted in life. When I got older, I realized it was a powerful tool for igniting imagination and inspiring meaningful change.

 SP:  What inspired you to create Sparkle Stories?

Lisabeth: Our idea for Sparkle came in a flash of inspiration. (Really!) I was reading blog posts about where to find quality children’s audio for families who are media-cautious and screen-free. And there just didn’t seem to be a wealth of good options! It’s tricky when you’re an ultra-discerning parent — you’re not sure what you can trust of what’s “out there.” But, like so many, I wanted to find something for my boys that was both nourishing and entertaining — so that I could feel good about what they were listening to while having a moment’s quiet! But I was coming up short, and so were the bloggers and readers online.

And I had a flash: DAVID and I COULD CREATE THE VERY THING WE’RE ALL LOOKING FOR. I took David — an incredibly gifted storyteller who can spin-a-yarn at a moment’s notice. And I took the incredible quality of his stories (they’re the sort that can bring a crowd of children and adults to a rapt, awestruck stillness). I suddenly saw his gift as a resource that could be tapped to create a small business. And then I took stock of my own skills: my training as a playwright, my love of production and management. And I realized it could be a perfect collaboration. And so we mapped out Sparkle, and launched about 7 months later, in December 2010.

SP:  What makes Sparkle Stories different from other stories in popular children’s media?

David: Sparkle’s stories inspire a sense of wonder in the world, nurture the imagination, and even offer a spark of healing and support, while still being completely delightful and entertaining.

Listening to a Sparkle story is a unique experience on many levels. First of all, since there are no images – screen, book or otherwise – the listener is able to engage imaginatively in the experience, creating their own unique images. This makes the experience collaborative rather than passive. Second, the characters are familiar, as is the world in which they live. This affords a comfort and trust in the narrative – which then allows the listener to deepen their empathy and consciousness of others. Lastly, the stories are offered rhythmically, every Friday. While children (and their parents) wait for the new stories to arrive each week, they can listen to the same story more than once – and deepen the experience.

Also worth mentioning: the foundation for Sparkle Stories comes out of my years as a Waldorf teacher. Waldorf class teachers are trained observers and students of child development. We meditate on our students, and this affords a very deep awareness of their challenges and capacities. Lisabeth and I have also been parenting two very different children for the last 10 years – both with unique interests and temperaments. All of that has created an excellent ground from which to grow Sparkle.

SP:  Why do you care about offering an alternative media for children?

Lisabeth: We’re big proponents of screen-free homes and schools for young children. But we also recognize that being totally media-free can be a sizeable challenge. (As I mentioned,) I’ve seen how media-cautious families — and I count our family among the ranks– are hungry for something of high quality to share with our children. There are times we simply want to engage our young ones for awhile so that we can get the dinner on, or let the baby nap, or enjoy the drive to Uncle’s house, or have a moment’s quiet to gather our wits! It’s important to have options that we trust to be both engaging and nourishing.

SP:  How do Sparkle Stories reinforce families seeking simplicity?:

Lisabeth: Sparkle’s stories are fundamentally simple. We don’t use sound effects, or big voices, or loud music. Our stories are told by one voice — that being David’s — in a gentle, slow, rhythmic pace. They are constructed in such a way that they engage all types of young listeners with delightful, consistent characters, and compelling, well-crafted stories. And, more often than not, the stories contain a seed of healing, help or insight. So the result is very rich, and often inspiring to families.

Also, our stories are tied to the Seasons, and in that way are grounding, as well as enriching of the present moment experience. The website is simple – informative, clean, colorful and spare. No bright lights and fancy distractions. It reflects what we are trying to offer: simple, well-told stories.

I think Sparkle is ideal for families who are trying to simplify the home life by stepping down the use of screen media, or a families who choose to use audio at home. We strive to be a highly regarded, trustworthy resource for children’s audio.

SP:  Where would you direct parents who want to learn more about telling their own stories?

David: Over the years I have developed a simple four-step system for making-up stories on the spot: when you are stuck in traffic, when waiting for an airplane, when anticipating a appointment at the dentists, as well as bedtime. Intuitive stories are not only available to you at any moment of the day or night, but they can also offer just the right image or narrative to a child that needs it. None of it takes any mapping or planning – just the courage to say “Once upon a time” and then the consciousness to get out of the way of the story and let it be told. I teach workshops on Intuitive Storytelling to parents, educators and students around the country. I also talk about these steps and other storytelling tips in our blog:


TO ENTER the giveaway for a 3 month subscription to Sparkle Stories, follow these instructions:

1) Comment here and you will be entered once.

2) “Like” Sparkle Stories on facebook, mention that in the comments here, and you will be entered twice.

3) “Like” Simplicity Parenting on facebook, mention that in the comments here, and you will be entered again.

4) Blog, Tweet, or Status about this giveaway inviting your friends to participate…and, you got it…you’re entered again.

Good luck!  The winner will be announced this Friday!



Book Study Week 6: Filtering Out the Adult World

Nov 14, 2011   //   by Traci McGrath   //   Filtering Out the Adult World, Uncategorized  //  2 Comments

Welcome back book-studiers!  We are nearing the end of our discussion.  We have one final chapter to cover next week, and then I hope to cover a few of the (really great) questions which have been brought up in the comments.  All are welcome to join in that discussion, even if this is your first week to find us.

This week – Filtering out the adult world.  One way we protect childhood is by acting as a “filter” for our young children – doing what they cannot yet do for themselves.  This chapter gave some great practical tips on what things to hold back on while children are still very young.

Simplifying Screens – Learning to say “No, Thanks”

It’s so counter-cultural it can make you look a little bit (or a lot) crazy, but rest assured you can do this in a way that works for your family, and you may even find this simpler way of life is much easier with young kids!  Kim says, “Choosing not to have a television, at least while your kids are young, does not say ‘Television is an unqualified evil’ or ‘We want to go back to life in the 1940s.’ It says, simply, on balance, ‘No thanks.’  It is a choice for engagement (with people, and the three-dimensional world) over stimulation, and activity over passivitiy, especially while kids are young.  You will greatly diminish your children’s exposure to violence and consumerism.  Most of all, you will expand-almost doubling, on average-your family’s free time.”

This chapter makes the strong case that limiting or removing television is one of the most powerful tools for a family who wants to simplify.  Not only is there a new, safe space for children to develop slowly, but there is much more control of the messages targeted directly to children by marketers:  What you have is not enough, You are not complete, You need more stuff (particularly the stuff we are selling!)

Some screen-time is harder to navigate for parents, because it seems educational, and often it is, for children of the right age.  This chapter reminds us again, that what is good for an 8 year old is not necessarily beneficial (and may be harmful) for a 4 year old.   I loved this thought – “How curious will a child be, how mentally agile, creative, and persistent in seeking answers to their questions if, from a young age, they learn to Google first, and ask questions later (or not at all)?”  Hopefully this chapter empowered you as it did me – knowing I can say “No Thanks” to the popular push for More, Faster, Earlier.

Simplifying Conversation

Another place we can act as good filters is in the conversation that takes place around our children.  Children are often offered too much adult information, too much emotional clutter, before they have built the foundation to process it.  This chapter points out that too much information does not prepare children for the grown-up world, rather, it paralyzes them.  With great intentions, we lecture kindergarteners about shrinking oil reserves and world hunger – these topics are popping up more and more in children’s books and on children’s TV.  We may think we are helping to create young activists, but childhood is not a time for these anxieties.

This idea came home for me just last week, when out of the blue, my son told me he was feeling better, that he “wasn’t worried any more about a school bus falling out of the sky.”  I had to think back hard to remember him overhearing a lighthearted discussion I’d had with my husband, about 3 months ago, about the school-bus sized satellite that was supposed to fall from space.   I had not even realized he was listening!

I loved the simple rule of “True. Kind. Necessary.” for conversation around children.  Before sharing anything, we can ask:  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  Imagine how much extra noise this could cut out in the world!  And what a positive impact on our children this could have.

Some discussion questions (Discussion is in the comments below):

1.  What is one step you feel is do-able in order to filter out the adult world for your children?

2.  What benefits do you feel will come with simplifying in this way?

3.  What was most interesting to you about this chapter and why?





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