Browsing articles in "Small Change Challenge"

This Week’s Small Change – Find A Place For Everything

Feb 14, 2011   //   by Breck Gamel   //   Simple Environment, Small Change Challenge  //  2 Comments

Too much stuff leads to too little time and too little depth in the way kids see and explore their worlds.
-Kim John Payne, M.Ed., author of Simplicity Parenting

Providing order and encouraging independence is an important gift to give children.  Here are two ways I have established that in Little Bear’s bedroom: with his shoes and with his coat.

Little Bear’s Shoe Basket.  He knows how to tuck his socks in his shoes and put his shoes away on his own.

I purchased this basket at Walmart but just a few bucks.

It really helps Little Bear know where to put his shoes.  He gets the sense of accomplishment.  I get a sense of knowing his things are put away in their right place!

Little Bear’s shoe basket sits on the floor to the left of his lamp.  His coat hangs on his closet door to the right of that.

I hung an inexpensive easily-removable hook to his door at his height on which to hang either his sweater or coat.

He does a great job hanging up his jacket – so much so that he often leaves his room cheering for himself, “yeah!!”
Simplifying the “stuff” and providing order gives Little Bear more room to explore his world.

Breck Gamel has a passion for parenting and is a huge fan of the Simplicity Parenting movement.  This Texas mother of two little boys has a bachelors in journalism and a masters in Elementary Education.  Visit her blog at Nursery Rhymes and Nightlights (

This Week’s Small Change – Why I’m Choosing to Simplify

Feb 7, 2011   //   by Breck Gamel   //   Small Change Challenge  //  4 Comments

Can my child do more with less?

I’m in the process of simplifying our home environment, in hopes that I can give my children more room to develop into the people they were meant to be.

However, to do this means I am fighting against culture.  I’m fighting against a society that wants more faster and easier!  “The pace of our daily lives is increasingly misaligned with the pace of childhood,” writes Kim John Payne in his book Simplicity Parenting.

I want something more for my children.  I want them to enjoy the beauty nature has to offer, the love friendships provide and the quiet stillness their brains need to develop fully.  I want to keep them from premature and unnecessary stress and pressure.

I instinctively do that with my baby, of which society is relatively supportive.  But it’s as though by three years old, children are expected to be able to make adult decisions and cope with adult issues.

Payne writes, “A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being, and resiliency….By simplifying, we protect the environment for childhood’s slow, essential unfolding of self.”

I believe the home is a sort of “womb” for children.  It is my job to control their contact with the world – to protect them and nurture them throughout every part of their environment – until they are mature adults fully capable of facing the complexities of life.  I believe I can offer them this best through simplifying.

“Can my child do more with less?” this is the question I ask as I work towards simplification.

Editors Note: What are you intentionally doing to simplify this week?

This Week’s Small Change – SHHhhhh…You’re Talking Too Much, Again

Jan 31, 2011   //   by simplicity   //   Small Change Challenge  //  5 Comments

So many thoughts are swirling in my mind around how to effectively parent young children that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Then I remember to take a deep breath, step back, and think about applying simplicity.

Isn’t it fascinating that when we feel stressed for a stretch or even for a morning or afternoon any amount of defiance or feisty behavior from the little troops and we find ourselves lecturing from the pulpit of righteousness about good behavior?  There are few parents who would claim that they have children who are excellent listeners.  Often we can be heard agonizing over the fact that our wee ones tune us out and suffer from selective hearing syndrome (This is otherwise known as mama whining).

Children actually don’t learn appropriate behavior from excellent speeches. Unfortunately, we are guilty far too often of drowning the learning with meaningless words and then wonder why they ignore us.  Our kids learn so much about the very behaviors we frown upon from those who model them – you and me, sister.

You never listen. I am constantly repeating myself and I’m tired of not being heard.  I told you 3 times to brush your teeth and now you’re hurt because you were fooling around with the step stool.  Look at this! Your wet towel is on your pajamas.  Why can’t you just listen the first time…blah blah blah. (This is otherwise known as mama tantrum).

Mama.  SHHhhhh. When you want your little one to brush her teeth, take her into the bathroom and put the toothbrush and toothpaste out. “Brushing time!” You may need to help to ensure they’re done properly and sometimes it takes a firm and loving insistence.  Getting emotional and upset with an uncooperative wee one will only go badly.  Expect that your little ones will not necessarily enjoy the task.  Your job is to focus on your own behavior – your calm and consistent response to their inner struggle.

This week focus on improving your own behavior – talk less, model more.

Have your little ones practice doing things over again when they make a mistake. Did your 3 year old demand a cup of water? Your response – “Yes, I can help you get water, I need to hear your kind request – “Mom, I’d like some water please” – say that now.”

Did one child hit or grab or otherwise interact with a sibling inappropriately? “We don’t hit/grab/push people. You’re not usually that rough. What’s up? (Listen) I want you to tell your sister that you want a turn. Share that with her now.”

Every day you’re teaching your children how to improve their impulse control. If at every turn you’re losing your cool and expecting that they will always cooperate, never tantrum, treat others with respect despite injustice they experience, then parenting will be a much tougher gig for you than you ever imagined.  You’re a teacher of character.  You can do this without all the whining and tantruming.

This Week’s Small Change: Getting Back on Track

Jan 24, 2011   //   by Amy Marotz   //   Small Change Challenge  //  2 Comments

Sometimes life brings us events that completely derail our normal rhythms and routines. How do we go about reclaiming and restructuring our lives? This is my family’s current question.

At the beginning of December we welcomed a beautiful baby boy into our family, and, as often happens with a major life transition, our routines and rhythms were (albeit happily) interrupted. Now, just over a month later, I’m feeling ready to get back on track.

We had prepared our three year old well (if you remember this entry). Her transition has been fairly smooth. She is excited about being a big sister, and dotes on her baby brother like the mother hen she is.  It’s the household routines that are lacking. My meal planning and housework have gone out the window, and I’m ready to reclaim some normalcy!

Since I know I’d crash and burn if I tried to reinstate ALL of our routines simultaneously, we’re taking baby steps to get back up to full speed. I decided to start with my favorite ritual that has dropped by the wayside– breakfast. For Day One I re-lit the breakfast candles and we dug the devotional out of a pile of baby cards. It’s all about moving steadily in the right direction.

Ahh….doesn’t that feel better?

Editor’s Note:  All of us have moments when we need to get back on track.  What has fallen by the way-side due to a new transition? … a new baby, moving, a new job or losing a job, a shift in the schedule due to inclement weather or vacation…  Take some time this week to put something you once did, back in place.  Be sure to share with Amy and the community what this inspires you to work on this week.

This Week’s Small Change – 20 Minutes For An A-Ha Moment

Jan 17, 2011   //   by simplicity   //   Small Change Challenge  //  3 Comments

It’s wonderful to hear that so many families had the opportunity to share stories with their children last week.  I hope it will become a daily or weekly ritual for you!

This week we are so lucky that Laina Clugston, one of our trained Simplicity Parenting Group Leaders brought this 20 minute video by Brene Brown, PH.D to our attention.  It is a phenomenal video with a wonderful message for us as parents.  So, this week, your small change is to find 20 minutes to give yourself the time and focus to listen to Dr. Brown’s talk on The Power of Vulnerability.  You will not be disappointed!  She’s a dynamic speaker and you’ll be grasping for a note pad.  Let us know your thoughts on what you hear!

This Week’s Small Change – Tell a Story

Jan 10, 2011   //   by simplicity   //   Small Change Challenge  //  3 Comments

Telling Stories by tracyshaun, some rights reserved

My children are captivated by the stories I tell about my own childhood.  I can’t seem to keep up with the demand of story requests I receive daily.

So what does storytelling have to do with simplicity?  Interestingly, a lot.  We know that daily rhythm provides familiarity and security in the lives of our children and finding ways to decrease the overwhelm of stuff, activities, and stimulation by increasing the downtime and connection is all part of slowing down and simplifying our days. Finding ways to connect in meaningful ways with our children without screens or scheduled events isn’t always easy in our modern times. Storytelling is a lost art and provides more than just entertainment…

On Steve Barancik’s blog about children’s books Steve writes:

One of the most respected thinkers and writers today on the subject of parenting is doctor and brain researcher Daniel Siegel. One of Dr. Siegel’s big focuses is the subject of attachment disorders.

Of course, in studying attachment disorders, Siegel learns a lot about healthy parent-child attachment as well. Are you ready for his most astonishing discovery? Here it is…

The most powerful predictor of a strong bond between child and parent is the parent’s ability to speak coherently to the child about the parent’s own childhood.

That does provide food for thought! Many times when I hear the words, “Mom, tell us a story!” my mind goes blank. Haven’t I told them all that I can remember? Scenes from my childhood run through my head and I’m fascinated by what I am able to recall. The more I’ve come to understand the importance of storytelling, the more I am encouraged to strive to become better about telling the stories.

Steve writes:

Your child needs stories. Here are just a few of the many reasons why:

1. Stories help children understand their place in the world
2. A story can help your child cope with a difficult situation or experience
3. Learning to tell stories helps your child become socially proficient
4. Storytelling can be the perfect way to impart a life lesson
5. It has been shown that telling stories about your own childhood is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen the child-parent bond

This week’s small change: Commit to telling your children a story from your childhood.

Find a moment to share your story on a car ride, during a meal, in the morning, or at bedtime. 

This amazing article will help you with this week’s small change challenge!

This Week’s Small Change – It’s a New Year for Simplifying!

Jan 3, 2011   //   by simplicity   //   Small Change Challenge  //  3 Comments
For this challenge, I will sit down with my kids and talk about thinking before talking and acting. I would like to put these 3 questions in a vicinity where everyone can see it and ponder it often.  Luckily, my kids DO get along fairly well. Most likely because we homeschool and we are in each other’s company for large periods of time daily. They work things out themselves and if not, I swoop in and try to help out as evenly as possible. Then we diffuse the situation with an apology and a hug.  I would like them to speak more kindly to each other, so hopefully we will be successful in working on this challenge this week!  ~Amy
I find I can better keep my cool if I can keep my sense of humour. So my small change is to reach for a better thought. ~Jennifer
The above quotes were small changes that our simplicity community committed to for last week’s small change challenge.
We have a unique week before us…the first week of the New Year!
We know that part of creating predictability requires us to be organized and prepared for the onslaught of tasks of work and school.  Creating rhythm for cleaning, meals, morning and bedtime routines…these are the rhythms, the heart beats of our days.  For the next 1/2 of the year to go smoothly take this opportunity to plan ahead!

For this week’s small change: What needs your extra preparation this week in order to help and support you in keeping your daily life more organized and calm?

What comes to mind immediately for myself is my need to plan the meals for the week and prepare lunches each night before bed.  It’s amazing how small preparations make a difference in the way I am able to handle the ups and downs of parenting young children! It was a lot easier to find this week’s dinner recipes using the list of ideas at Whole Foods website – for free you can create a recipe box and a shopping list to print out!

Share your thoughts on your preparation ideas for this week’s challenge below or in The Circle, our free forum for all of our simplifying parents!

This Week’s Small Change

Dec 27, 2010   //   by simplicity   //   Simple Discipline, Small Change Challenge  //  5 Comments

I think this week it is essential for me to focus on building in down-time for my three kids.  I will be sticking to our routine as much as possible to try and preserve the sanity of everyone in our house! ~Amy

…focusing on some down time with my kiddo… ~Lisa

I am going to continue to work on simplifying our home environment. ~Clelie

Picture Courtesy of

The above quotes were small changes that our simplicity community committed to for last week’s small change challenge.

Here, at Simplicity Parenting, we encourage those of you who implemented your small change to stick with it, even if your plans may have been thwarted by holiday festivities!

We know how much our community enjoys thinking about simplifying their home environment, especially this week when new “stuff” may have arrived as a result of the holidays.

However, we would like to shake things up for those who would like some motivation and support around discipline and communication in your household.  Many families will be together for another week before school resumes and tensions may rise.

For this week’s small change: What can you tweak about how you are handling the sibling rivalry or your own frustrations that send you into a mommy meltdown?

Can you strive to put…

Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: Is it true?  Is it kind? Is it necessary? (Simplicity Parenting, page 192)

…into practice this week? Have you thought about holding your children to this same standard in the way they communicate with you and with others?

Share your triumphs and difficulties with this task in the comments below!

This Week’s Small Change

Dec 20, 2010   //   by simplicity   //   Beginning to Simplify, Small Change Challenge  //  7 Comments

Picture Courtesy of

It is the goal of Simplicity Parenting to encourage families to envision and apply one small change at a time.  Often we look around the clutter of our homes and reflect on the busy-ness of our lives and immediately become overwhelmed with what we want to create but  feel we don’t have the time or energy to pursue.

There are 4 layers of simplicity: environment, rhythm, scheduling, and filtering.  Kim Payne addresses each simplicity layer in detail in his book.

When you think about simplifying your home environment or creating a needed, predictable daily/weekly routine, or cutting back on the schedule to include more downtime, or limiting media…what are you most interested or inspired to tackle right now?

Choose the layer and think about one small thing that could be tweaked to bring more ease, comfort, or connection for your family this week.  To keep yourself accountable to your desired small change, post about it on your blog and send us the link in the comments below or if you don’t have your own blog, tell us more about the change you’ve chosen for this week in the comments so we can encourage you to stay true to your plan.

This is the beginning of a new tradition here at The Power of Less Blog!  Each Monday we will invite you to make a small change.  This week it is your choice of the area you want to tweak.  In the weeks following we will invite you to make a change in a specific simplicity layer.

Happy simplifying!



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