Monthly e-News|
January 2013


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Transformative Parenting - Free Video Series available soon 


Our friend and colleague, Todd Sarner, is offering a FREE four-video series, "The Parenting Path to Optimal Connection, Behavior & Growth".  

Videos will be released January 20, 24, 27, and 29.  We know you will find Todd's work to be a rich resource to inspire and encourage you in your parenting. 


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Earlybird Registration by July 13.



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Spring Distance Learning:

February 15 - May 3 2014  

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April 9, 10 11
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The Soul of Discipline with
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From Kim's Desk 

Hello Dear Parents,

This month's e-News is rich in stories that come right from the heart of parenting.  We have often been told that it's these real life accounts that give insight and hope, so it's wonderful to receive them from parents in the Simplicity Parenting community and pass them on to you.

You can also catch a glimpse of an online parenting course offered by our friend and colleague Todd Sarner which focuses on developing stronger family connections and a place from which children can grow.

Warmly (from an icy New England),

Celebrating Simplified Environments
We celebrate along with many of you who have simplified your homes - thank you to those brave simplifiers who shared stories and photos with us here!

"I've been weeding through our toy collection and simplifying it. When our living room was filled with all sorts of loud, brightly colored, flashy toys, I found it uninspiring. I think the kids did too- Ania and Kellen would not really play with anything- just kind of throw it around. It was cluttery and just made me want to escape my own home! I'm making a conscious effort to have simple toys that bring out creative play! Simple things like a doll house, blocks & art supplies go so much further and it's great to see what they create!" --- Erica Jean of Chicago, IL (who blogs at Dainty Warrior about her daughter's battle with Retinoblastoma.)

"Thank you so much Mommy and Daddy, I have more room to play with my toys!" my 9 year old wide eyed son shrieked with delight.  ...In that one moment and time, I was mesmerized by his dimple, his gaping teeth, his tall stature and his youthful look in his footy pajamas. I had my little boy back, full of joy and present.  He was so expressive and appreciative.  That expression of appreciation is the best reward for my actions in Simplicity Parenting.  His heartfelt appreciation makes everything I do worthwhile.  I can see his heart in his smile.

The first culling of toys was an action my dear comadre (son's god mother) took on my behalf when she lovingly came over and pitched and ditched my self-help parenting library.  I had every parenting book under the sun and read them, yet implementing a consistent parenting style was my greatest challenge.  After she demonstrated how to caringly cull my toys and I had my big girl feelings about it.  I was able to sense when my son needed the same remedy.  This has now become a seasonal ritual in our home.  Most recently was our summer culling. My son has had some exposure to media and the "mores" were taking over our home wanting more of everything.  Our home started to feel crowded.  The voices grew louder.  Tempers grew shorter for all of us.  So while my husband was at work, Bridge and I took two days to cull each room of our home.  Everything feels so much lighter, more fluid, and relaxed. What is always the biggest change is that my son dove into his room head first.  He took out toys that were growing dust already.  He moved into the imaginative, creative realm he typically lives in.  Building structures, creating stories and settling into a more relaxed, even at times bored way of being.  Everyone is more at peace.
  -Nicole Nathanson of Los Angeles, CA 

Holiday Gifts and Toys: Post Mortem

Davina Muse


As I reflect on the holidays, one image stays with me:  


A row of battery-operated remote-controlled luxury cars parked on the living room floor, looking sorry for themselves.


They arrived in flashy, impenetrable, protective ramparts of plastic and cardboard, which must have required a Ph.D in packaging to design; I felt I needed a Ph.D to help my four-year old grandson besiege them.


I think about what it took for these super-toys to find their way from China to my home.


A line of very young people tying metal and plastic to cardboard with twisty ties comes to mind; factories, freight, order forms, regulations, more transport, wholesale warehouse, retail stores, wrapping paper, mailing systems... so much love on this journey, so much labor, so much ingenuity, obedience, so much waste, so much creativity, so much plunder.


My grandson hardly played with the shining Ferrari or the flashing bumper truck that does tricks, after the first day.


He played with pieces of kindling in front of the fire; he played pick-up sticks (his rules) with his obliging 22 year old uncle; he made a Lego truck with his Mother; he made "mixtures" in a pan while I cooked supper. He played for hours with a tiny Hotwheels Lambourghini (what is it about Italian cars?), a celebratory gift from the barber after a haircut.


A lot of the time he was outside digging snow or building bridges over icy streams.


Now they have gone back to work and school.


I have been hauling bags of unrecyclable plastic, cardboard and paper to the dump...


And wondering what kind of environmentally sensitive funeral I can offer to dead batteries...


My New Year Resolution?

Next year I will do this differently.


Somehow, less stuff, a lot more simplicity!


Davina Muse


Stories from the Heart of Parenting:
"I love Everything"
We have received some lovely submissions for the Stories from the Heart of Parenting compilation.  We are still accepting stories and would love to share yours!  (See box below).  This story is from Emmy Layborne, and tells of the changes which took place in her home after she simplified her daughter's environment.

Our daughter Elinor was
having a hard time.  She had loved school in  first grade, but now, half-way through second, she dreaded going.  Our sunny, creative, outgoing 8 year-old had turned overnight into a volatile, hyper-emotional powder keg of a child. 


Mornings with Ellie were particularly agonizing.  There were only a few items in her stuffed closet that she would wear.  To get her to try on a shirt, I'd have to use every tactic in the book - cajoling, coaxing, commanding.  When those failed, I'd get more and more upset myself.  I'd threaten and, on my worst days, yell or even cry.  At this point, Ellie would be screaming and crying herself.  And then we'd have to start on the pants!    

Elinor was getting herself so worked up in the morning that some days I just gave up and let her stay home from school. 


Ellie was also having trouble socially. She'd always had a goofy gaggle of friends.  In first grade, we'd hosted almost every other girl in Ellie's class for  joyful playdates.  Even though Ellie was the tallest by far, none of the other girls had seemed to notice the difference in height. They played beautifully together.


Now, according to Elinor, no one liked her anymore.  They teased her about her height and left her out of their games on purpose.  She was so sure they were all against her and spoke about it so much, she seemed to have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.  At a class event, some of the second graders wandered off to wade in a stream.  Three girls started pelting Ellie with mud-balls.  She came to us, red-faced, weeping and yelling, with mud on her face and arms.  The girls followed, both protesting their innocence and looking a bit guilty.  It was a striking scene - Ellie, taller than all of them by at least a head, weeping and pointing a finger at the three, tiny "meanies."

After that day, Elinor said she didn't want to go to school anymore.  She complained of stomach-aches, head-aches, and of course, none of her clothes fit.


My husband Greg and I were really worried.  She needed help.


Fortunately, we had found the work of Kim John Payne several years before, when he gave his lecture, The Soul Of Discipline, at our children's school. The book Simplicity Parenting was sitting on a shelf in our living room.  While we had taken some of Kim's principles to heart (we are a no media family, for example), the daily lives of my kids were largely unstructured, usually unpredictable and totally rushed. 

I was working on my first novel at the time, my husband was freelancing from home  and we had an au pair living with us. You'd think with an au pair, we would have found a way to set a routine, but somehow every day still felt like a circus.  Who was picking up whom? Who was making dinner?  Who was taking the kids to the play date, the music class, the doctor appointment?  Who was running to the store for the forgotten dinner ingredient?


Ellie needed a simplicity intervention. Truth be told, we all did.

After re-reading Simplicity Parenting, my husband and I made a 4-point plan.


1. Ellie time - Either Greg or myself would be home at 5 pm on the dot to have a half-hour with Ellie, outside, playing catch or jumping rope. This would give her the chance to unwind and to receive our undivided attention. It also meant we would nix play dates, appointments and classes, at least for the time being.


2. Early dinner - Dinner would be at 5:30 precisely each evening, so that we could get into a rhythm.


3. Early bed - The kids would be in bed by 7 pm.  My husband and I would not go on any dates or do family evening activities for at least two weeks, to get us set into this new pattern.


4. De-cluttering the house - We would start in Ellie's room and then work out through the rest of the house.


It's that last step there I'd like to tell you about.

On a Saturday morning, we arranged for our au pair to take the kids to the park.

Greg and I got to work on Ellie's room.

I went through her drawers and removed every single item of clothing I knew she disliked or claimed didn't fit.  I was surprised at how many size 6 & 7 pieces there were.  Out, out, out.  When I was done the drawers were nearly empty.  A handful of shirts.  A half a dozen pairs of pants.  Three pairs of acceptable socks.


I did the same thing in the closet.


All in all, I removed three trash bags of clothes, shoes and old dress-up costumes.


Greg, meanwhile, was dismantling her bed!

Elinor had a twin bed with a low canopy over it. The canopy didn't do much, except for hit me and Greg on the head every time we tried to sit on the bed and read her a story.  We decided we'd take it out and put her mattress on the floor.  


Can't get much more simple than that!


After Greg removed the bed, I got to work on the toys, dolls,  baubles, tchotchke, and doo-dads that 8-year olds collect in the course of their 8-year old lives.


I packed them all away.


I truly did. I didn't let my own sentimentality get in the way.  


The basket overflowing with stuffed animals went out into the playroom.  


By the time I'd finished, the bureau and her desk were absolutely clear.  


I used a lavender counter spray to clean all the surfaces and I vacuumed.


The last thing I did was to place a jelly jar with fresh flowers on the bureau. On Elinor's desk I placed a pad of paper, a few pens and a set of colored pencils.


Then we waited.  

And believe me, we prepared for a meltdown.


I waffled a bit. I said that if she really hated her new room, we could always put some of the trinkets back. We could put back up the bed, if needed...

Greg gave me a pep talk - this is going to help her.  She needs it.  Think of it as therapy.

I knew that, but I still considered putting the one basket of stuffed animals back... (The waiting was killing me.)


Finally, the kids and the au pair came home. I resisted the urge to escort Elinor into her "new" room. Instead I loitered around straightening up the area outside her room.

Soon enough, Ellie passed me and entered her room.

"Mommy!" she shouted. "My room!"

I came to the doorway.

A smile full of wonder was beaming from Ellie's face and she was turning around with her arms spread out. (Yes, just like Maria on the mountaintop in the Sound of Music!)

My wise husband called to me from the kitchen. Could I help him with something? I went to him, knowing that what he wanted was for me to let Ellie enjoy her room alone. 

As I turned, a grinning Ellie shut the door.


Twenty minutes later she came out and handed me this note. The drawings on the back are her illustrations for the words on the front. 


Above is a picture I took with her and the note: "I love my family.  I love nature.  I love the sun.  I love everything." 


Needless to say, our simplicity intervention worked.


The support we gave Elinor allowed her to regain her footing. Her feelings of being persecuted faded away and she was soon again having play dates.  She was able to get dressed to go to school more easily. (Man, was she excited to not have to wade through all those shirts she hated!) The early dinner and bedtime helped Ellie and also her little brother Rex.  We still eat at 5:30 and aim for 7 pm bedtime, though in the summer, we shift back by an hour.

Elinor is confident and sociable once again.  The mud-ball incident is long forgiven and forgotten.  She's still the tallest girl in her class, but she wears it well.  Her spelling is still highly creative.  Her "treasures" are still boxed up in the basement.


And she still loves her family, nature, the sun and everything in general.


Stories from the Heart of Parenting


Here at the Simplicity Project, we are always deeply touched by the stories you share with us. We've all had our struggles, inspirations, and triumphs.  And every experience is unique.  But there is a universal thread the runs throughout our personal narratives.  What you've been through can touch, inspire and help others who are going through similar experiences in their relationships with children, family and friends.


We invite you to share your touching story with us.  Whether it's about a disciplinary issue you confronted, a life-changing effort you made to Simplify, or any other heartful story that others can learn or benefit from.


Stories may come from mamas, papas, grandparents, educators, or caregivers and nannies.  All of you have something valuable to share with others walking this path. 


We may select it to be published.  If we do you will receive five free copies of the book or e-book your story appears in. You will also be credited in our contributors section.

We are still accepting stories.  For more information and story guidelines,


January's Simplicity Picture


December's Simplicity Photo comes from Marieke Duijneveld, a mother and Simplicity Parenting Coach in Chestnut Ridge, NY.  Marieke shares, "This one is from my four year old daughter Anne.  She is 'cracking stones'. Her favorite activity with her sister these days.  (You hammer with one stone on the other so that it can break)."


Do you have a photo you'd like to submit for our ezine or blog?  Please email it with a short description to Traci at 


On the 'Power of Less' Blog
Did you miss reading our blog in December?
  Click here to read posts from December

 Join the discussion on our facebook page.

Our Team

Kim John Payne, Director 
Davina Muse, Training Coordinator
Traci McGrath - Social Networking Coordinator and Associate Editor 
Katharine Payne - Administrative Coordinator
Kirsten Archibald - Training Outreach 
Luis Fernando Llosa - Managing Editor. Simplicity Project Publishing
Todd Sarner - Online Course Producer
Michelle Marcyk - Event Planning 
Ramzi Nakhleh - Technology Coordinator