Ah, well, obviously my idea to review the books I've read for the month at the end of the month was a case of wishful thinking. Getting myself together in a timely fashion has proved....not the easiest thing to do! But I still really want to talk good books with you! So, hey, lets do it now--- shall we?
The last few weeks have been really interesting. I've been reading some really great books that are helping me with some major confusion as to the state of Oklahoma's public schools. Slashed budgets have been slashed again. Parent's are being asked to fill out surveys about what core services or classes we'd be "least/most upset" about having cut out of our children's education. It's worrisome, and has me thinking I need to beef up things at home, and not just for education's sake, but for the sake of doing some fun things with the kids in general.
Some great resources for this endeavor have been Amanda Soule's books--- The Creative Family, Handmade Home and The Rhythm of Family. Amanda is known the world over for her blog Soule Mama and magazine Tap Root, but these books are some of my favorite of her writing. Lots of projects for little hands, ideas for lazy summer afternoon crafting, and starting a more handmade approach to life in general. You know I like that!
However, hands down my favorite book to read this past month has been Simplicity Parenting. I literally read it with highlighter in hand. The timing of this book coming into my hands has been nothing short of perfect. I believe I read an article about some of the concepts in the book the Monday after we'd done one of those massive clean-outs of the kids room and little playroom.
I was so tired of hearing "I'm bored" from amidst a mountain of stuff, and of tripping over stuff and picking up stuff and just generally dealing with stuff that didnt seem useful so much as just the things always in our way.
Pair that with a freshly minted 9 year old declaring that she was done with toys and didnt want all the stuff anyway and well, it was quite the haul we made to Good Will.
Something amazing happened afterwards though--- not just that rooms were clean, but you could see those special items again--- the dollhouse, the few beloved dolls or toys that had once been hidden under mounds of junk. The mood of the house changed, it was calmer, less chaotic. Picking after play became manageable, quick.
Then starting this book made things come together even clearer--- in the book, Payne describes the palpable anxiety that comes from too many things--- how the clutter of activities and entertainment add to this as well.
He wrote "the process of simplification-- a shifting of a family's core axis-- is usually driven by a parent's simple desire to protest the ease and wonder of their child's early years." and continued:" as distractions fall away, a sense of ease takes hold and expands. There's more time for connection, room for contemplation and play."
Some of my highlighted bits from the books include these points:
- Too much stuff deprives kids of leisure, and the ability to explore their worlds deeply
- A protected childhood allows for the slow development of identity, well-being and resiliency.
- Simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter, your attention expands, and your awareness deepens.
- When children are given so many things, nothing has value--- the only option is 'more.'
- The less a toy can 'do', the more they can 'become', in play
- Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another.
- Its not just what you make of your time, but whether you have the time to make it your own.
- Love something for it's own sake--- not for its potential for fame, glory, scholarships, awards.
- Through the noise and bustle of daily life, a parent's words can help shape the way a child sees the world and themselves.
Reading this book has triggered a yearning in myself to give my children a more natural, uncluttered home life and childhood. I think back to my own early years--- and my earliest memories are of being with my great-grandparents, who took care of me while my parents worked. I have flashes of memories of blue skies and towering plants in a vegetable gardens, of watching birds, grass under bare feet, singing songs, sitting on the kitchen counter while granny worked at the sink.
What is so interesting to me about these memories are that they aren't totally unreachable to my kids, because granny didnt live in the bucolic countryside. She literally lived on the same street we live on now. She had created that garden and home in an ordinary suburban lot in town, yet it was a world all her own--- at least to a little one like me.
Lately I've been finding myself walking by that little house--- because it seems so very little now--- and gazing at that yard that was a magic wonderland to me and thinking "I want that for my kids."
And so, coupling those memories with my reading, I've been working hard to make our yard a more kid friendly area--- moving the shovels and spades to the garage so that the shed can be a playhouse, incorporating the care of our animals in the routine of even the littlest's day--- making garden time a family event, listening to simple music that is kid friendly-- searching out the soothing instead of the busy.
It hasnt been perfect, but its a work in progress that I'm really excited about. I feel like this book is one of those books that will go down as an absolute favorite and go-to source for inspiration. I think if you're feeling some of these same things I am, you'll find it an invaluable source too.
Now--- are are we tossing out all the toys and the tvs and electronic time over here to sing in harmony around a campfire? No....not quite ;) but I am being more mindful about our interactions--- even as I mess things up. But we keep on keepin' on, keep trying, keep improving and looking for ways to have fun simply. And make art, of course!~
And so--- these are the books on my mind right now. Maybe you'd enjoy them too? What have you been reading? Do you have any great books about childhood that you'd recommend I put on my list? I'd love to hear!~ Let me know in the comments!
Hope you're having a great week!~