Simplicity Parenting is a movement that is gaining traction all over the world in places as diverse as India and Iceland, says Kim John Payne. It’s easy to understand why: like the appeal of minimalism, simplicity in child-rearing is a pendulum swing away from the hyperactive pace of today’s world, both for children and adults.
In a talk yesterday, Payne discussed how cumulative low-level stress can lead to the same symptoms exhibited by people with PTSD. Under-the-radar stress accumulates over time when there’s too much going on all the time. For children, it’s too many scheduled activities, play dates, screens everywhere, toys, etc.
Most of us experience periods of stress. Now I wonder, are there enduring levels of low stress in my life as well? What about how much I dread checking and filtering my email? What about all the books on my shelf that I want to read?
Payne shared four pillars of simplicity for child-rearing. I bet they apply to adulthood as well:
- Simplify the Environment: this is what minimalism is about! Fewer clothes to choose from, fewer books, fewer pots and pans, less to clean, less to demand your attention. My room is simple now, but perhaps it could be simpler. Or perhaps I can pare down that basement shelf full of Books I Might Read Someday. Maybe I can pare down the cookware and dishes in our kitchen.
- Establish Rhythm & Predictability: are there tasks I can do at the same time every day at work, without getting derailed? Can I set my alarm for the same time each morning? Can I decompress immediately after work every day, instead of cooking or cleaning or checking personal emails?
- Cut back on Scheduling: I strive to have at least two weeknights free and one weekend day with no or few plans. Lately I’ve felt restless to take on an “extracurricular” such as dancing or rock climbing. But just one. In doing so, I’ll need to cut back on random plans that crop up during the week.
- Filter out the Adult World: I wrote about this in Minimal-Info Diet. My sphere of concern and sphere of influence are different. Should I know about world tragedies when I can’t do much to change them? Or should I focus on what I can change – making my personal life more sustainable, decreasing my carbon footprint, etc.
What do you think? Where do you feel low levels of stress? How have you simplified?