The following is a post by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.
It was one word that caused the seismic shift in my mindset. That forced me to wipe the school slate clean and reevaluate. It came out of left field, but then again it confirmed everything I’ve ever wondered–and agonized over–with regards to my son. The word?
It’s true, for the almost 8 years of his life I’ve wondered at my son, who is marvelous and baffling all at once. Unique can’t begin to capture the glorious idiosyncrasies of this man-child. I’d marveled at how a 7-year-old could be at a high school reading comprehension of science and history, and yet be barely able to legibly write his own name? Why the social frustrations? The incredible intensity? The overwhelm and overstimulation in public places? The extreme need for calm, home, steady, routine?
It never occurred to me that there might be a name for this. And, to be fair, things weren’t bad, so there was no need for alarm. Most of my son’s Asperger’s symptoms are strengths. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. The challenges are, well, challenges. Every child has challenges. Every child has special needs. So when I found out that Asperger’s was part of my son’s make-up, I re-read Jamie’s fabulous piece, All kids have special needs.
And, as always, her words were like life to my soul. Then I marched straight to the library and picked up Simplicity Parenting.
And another single word brought revelation and perspective to my heart and life:
For young children (4-10), when did we begin believing our culture’s lie that we need more, more, more?! More enrichment classes, more youth sports, more activities, more socialization, more books, more toys, more programs.
Amazingly enough, what I needed most, in order to effectively nurture and teach my son … was less.
Less stimulation. Less media. Fewer outside activities. Fewer toys. Fewer choices. Fewer words (by me). Less commotion. Less exposure to adult issues and stressors. Less of me hovering over them ensuring they are happy.
They need to be surrounded by virtue and simplicity. By a few wholesome book choices. By a few open-ended toys (the less the toy does the more our children’s brains do!). A few carefully chosen activities.
And then, in a few areas, a bit more:
More of me, just listening. More of me, just smiling.
More free playtime with dirt and rocks and sticks. More opportunities to experience the best catalyst for creativity and imagination: boredom.
Simplicity Parenting was exactly the antidote I needed for the toxic rush of our hurried consumer culture. Reading this book was like finally eating what I’ve always hungered for but never quite known that I needed. Specifically, Payne suggests a simplicity regimen that includes 4 steps:
- Filtering out the adult world
I cannot say enough about this 4-step simplification process. We are only a month into our Asperger’s journey, and every child is so unique, I don’t presume to know what will work wonders for you.
Simplicity isn’t a cure-all. But I wholeheartedly recommend Simplicity Parenting if you are, in any way, looking for how to put the simple back into your homeschool … and into your life.
As I type these words my husband is napping (restful Sunday afternoons reclaimed!) and my children are happily playing with the simple toys that were recently unearthed in my colossal de-cluttering and toy reduction. A clean, uncluttered house is just one of the beautiful byproducts of a simplicity swamp-out.
Our rhythm and schedule are finally in tune. My soul feels like it just took a deep breath. My son–and daughter–are happy and thriving. A simplification overhaul has already dramatically shifted the climate of our home.
Yes, we’ll continue to address challenges, and not every day will be uninterrupted digging for bugs. But it’s remarkable what a simplicity shift can do for the whole family, not just the “special” kids. If I could recommend one parenting book as you begin this year, it’s this one.
Your turn: What situation in your home or family’s life right now could use an infusion of simplicity? Thanks for reading.