I was given Simple Happy Parenting well over a month ago to review. Normally I can easily read a book and have a post published within a week, but for me to truly give an honest opinion on the book we as a family had to live a simpler life. We didn’t part exchange the BMW for a cart and buggy and my designer handbags didn’t get sidelined for a wicker basket, but we did ( where possible ) stick to the Simple Manifesto of :
Denaye advocates a ‘less is more’ model of parenting and family life. The first part of the book is dedicated to decluttering your home environment so it meant clearing out each room of unnecessary items. This was everything from the toys piled high in the kid’s rooms to my overstuffed wardrobes. In truth, the kids only played with about 10 of their 120 toys and my wardrobe was filled with clothes I had never worn and didn’t need. I either sold the items on eBay or gave them away to friends. It was quite therapeutic seeing all the space we had after the clear-out and Instantly it made the daily clean feel that little bit easier.
To go hand in hand with clearing out your home space Denaye also advocates buying less. So for me, it was my fast fashion addiction that had to go into rehab and for the kids no more buying cheap plastic tatt from the supermarket. Instead of doing a mass monthly shop, I changed to a weekly shop and stuck to a specific list of items that I knew would get used and not cause waste. Mealtimes changed too. Luckily neither of the kids are fussy eaters but they did snack and occasionally when it comes to mealtime they will refuse their meal saying they are full. Within an hour they are then hungry and I was having to make a separate meal or snack for them. We adopted the 2-hour dinner window. So to put it simply if you are planning to serve the meal at 6 p.m from 5 – 7 p.m they only food the kids can have is what you are preparing for the meal. So before the meal is served they can snack on the vegetables you are preparing and for the hour after the meal if they are still hungry they can snack on leftovers. For those thinking ‘ my child would never do that ‘ have a try because it worked 1st time for us without any arguments.
Once you have simplified your living space and served up simpler meal times, Denaye then moves onto how to simplifying parenting. Let me know if this sound familiar …..
“As parents, we have the best intentions. Happiness, health and success are what we want the most for our children. Those good intentions we harbour may manifest themselves in our parenting like this :
These good intentions are exhausting. They make parenthood heavy. As a result, many of us are relying on coffee to wake us up and get us through the day, and cocktails to help us shut it all down at night to go to bed”
Yeah… that was me too. Trying to be everything for the kids and getting burnout in the process. This all stems from fear and after Denaye’s recommendation I had to let go a little. This meant watching Harry scale a huge tree at the local woods, allowing Charley to go on a mini kids rollercoaster on her own and not playing referee to every argument they had. My anxiety levels to start with were through the roof but I stuck to trusting in them and as long as I knew all aspects of safety were in place, letting them get on with life started to make parenting a lot less stressful.
I would describe myself as a ‘shouty mummy ‘. Not always telling them off but the house, in general, is very nosey and with it, I shout a lot just to be heard ( a lot less now ). I learnt a magical thing to do when I need to stop the bickering or one of the kids is refusing to get their clothes on ……… I hug them. Yep, I hug them and I ask them very nicely not to bicker with each other. It may sound like hippy shit, but it’s instantly calming for all involved and 9/10 times it works. This is still a ‘ work in progress ‘ as my natural tendency to shout, especially when I am busy trying to work is hard but when I remember to take a breath and ‘hug it out ‘ i feel I come away from the situation feeling a lot better and not regretting snapping at the kids.
For many years I lived a very fast-paced corporate life. Work hard and play harder. By the nature of this, we entertained a lot. BBQ’s on the weekend, parties, invitations to other peoples houses, city breaks with friends. When the kids came along all-night parties may have finished but it has always been a whirlwind of social events. While they were babies all I needed was a nappy bag and a boob and we could go anywhere. Now they are older, I have seen the effects of constantly being on the go and needing to be entertained 24/7. This part has by far been the hardest. I have had to cut the kids activities in half and think about the environments I am taking the kids too. As much as I love a soft play area, a cup of coffee and 2 hours to sit and tap away at my laptop, I have found the kids end up coming home more hyped up than when we went. I have gone back to nature and now many of our days out involve long walks or running around at the beach.
As I have both kids off with me for the school holidays I am trying to put everything from Simple Happy Parenting into practice. I am allowing the kids more freedom to sleep in and choose their activities. We have no set plans for playdates or meet up’s. In many ways, we are living each day as it comes and enjoying a slower pace of life. We have officially gone old school and they have been making use of the back garden, old cardboard boxes and blankets to make dens and with less washing to do, less clearing up each day without really trying I am spending a lot more time with them both and having fun.
I don’t want to say that I am a total convert and this parenting lark has finally clicked but a lot of what is suggested in the book are simple to put into practice. It may take you a day to do a top to bottom clear out and the urge to buy new dresses is still strong but when you feel like family life so much better in less than 6 weeks, its worth keep going.
I feel even if you take just a couple of points from this book and put them into practice you will see a change in family life.
If you would like to win a copy of Simple Happy Parenting then you can enter by clicking on this link to my Instagram profile here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0p6JfRF5q2/
For more details on the book and about the author Denaye Barahona PhD click here https://www.simplefamilies.com/blog/ to read her blog and listen to her podcasts.
The book can be purchased by clicking on the Amazon link below. *affiliate link