DDADD Method

Photo credit to Namaste.tvAs much as I was drawn to the Simplicity Parenting movement because it helps guide me toward family values I want to create, I am now equally compelled by Kim John Payne’s approach to discipline. Payne’s advice is incredibly simple, yet effective, if used calmly and consistently…although that’s not to say that kids won’t continue to push new buttons and stretch new limits.

What I like is that it focused on identifying the problem and working to develop a sustainable change. It’s not about dwelling on the past (or recent past) or developing complex consequences that need to be carried out. In fact, before the age of seven, Kim doesn’t believe that traditional discipline methods are effective in truly creating the type of behavior we want. Instead, he provides a simple method for problem solving, which can be more of a conversation as kids mature.

Here is the DDADD method that Simplicity Parenting encourages in the context of cleaning up our desks:

  • Describe – I talked with them about why it’s important to keep your desk space clean, including the benefits of being able to find your scissors and get your homework done with time left to play. I explained why keeping our house tidy matters in our family, and how it’s one of our “Family Rules for Fun.”
  • Disapprove – I explained how it made me feel to see the desks/drawers in chaos, and how it was clearly not working for us.
  • Affirm – I encouraged them in the process of cleaning up. I assisted in providing better containers for the art supplies and helping find a better place to stack the books. I helped give them the skills and attitude to want to do it for themselves, “Wow, isn’t it nice now that you can find your scissors?!” Then the next day…”I’m glad to see you keeping your desk clear.”
  • Do-over – Give them a chance to d0-over. Again using positive encouragement.
  • Discover – Reflect to yourself why this situation or pattern may be happening. (However, it’s best not to speculate outloud or discuss with your child…a spouse or friend would be a better sounding board.)

There is obviously more to discipline that these simple steps, but this is a good start. For me, just being conscious of these steps as I’m talking with my kids helps keep me focus on the long-term goal rather than the short-term struggle.

Have you used the DDADD method successfully?


Counter-Culture Roots

"Food Farm" cabin in the Umpqua Forest.

Darcy and Kieran on steps of the Food Farm cabin.

Sometimes I wish I could opt out of this consumer culture, where we are all beckoned to buy, buy, buy.

I grew up in the sticks, quite literally. My back-to-the-land parents built a cabin in the Umpqua Forest with trees they felled themselves. Their so-called hippie commune was dubbed the “Food Farm.”  They had migrated to Southern Oregon with the belief that they didn’t need what the main stream culture was selling. They wanted to raise their family off the grid. They believed there was a better way of living, closer to the earth. My father planted trees with a cooperative. Our adopted Dad fixed cars and hunted venison. Our mother sewed our clothes and washed cloth diapers by hand…that’s truly a job in itself, especially with three adopted children, plus twins!

There was no mall in walking distance where I grew up. The abundance of the grocery store was found in the garden, with the exception of wheat berries that my parents ground for flour, popcorn kernels and a few other staples. There were no “devices” to speak of, and even getting snail mail required a hike.

I’m an urban girl now, and even though I love camping, I couldn’t imagine living in the woods. Even country living would mean too much driving for my taste, but I still get nostalgic when we visit my parents with our kids. It feels like I’m able to give them a little of both worlds.

Emulating my parents version of simplicity is just not possible for me though. But I do question the main stream culture, and feel like Simplicity Parenting gives us the tools to parent in a better way.

The Simplicity Parenting workshops delve into four keys area of family life:

  • Home Environment – Creating space in your child/family’s life for creativity, peace and joy.
  • Rhythms – Family “routines” created with intention…over time creating your family values.
  • Scheduling – Doing what you value, making time for what matters, living this one life.
  • Filtering the Adult World – Finding your family’s comfort level for mass media and screen time.

So, if you’ve ever fantasized about escaping from modern day life, the Simplicity Parenting workshops may what you’ve been craving.

Together, we can create a contemporary counter-culture.


Growing a Family: A complicated story

Family photo on the first day of school.

A first family photo with newborn Teagan, also the first day of the school year!

Growing a family feels much like raising one: pure instinct.

At one point I had tried to convince myself to keep my family small for environmental reasons. Then after loosing my father, and waking up to life’s preciousness, I felt like having another child was my calling.

It wasn’t that simple though. As my close friends and family know, I ended up getting pregnant with an IUD. At first the doctor thought I had ovarian cancer, but it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. I had to get one ovary and tube removed, but still felt the urge to have another baby. Once off birth control, I got pregnant immediately, but my body wasn’t ready. After a miscarriage, I went back on the pill. I still not-so-secretly wanted another child. Then I broke my ankle and Hubby didn’t get my prescription refilled…low and behold I was pregnant a few weeks later.

All this to say that I know the decision to have a child isn’t always straightforward.

Yet, whether you choose to have a single child or a dozen, Simplicity Parenting is all about creating a thriving and joyful family environment. One of the things that attracts me most to Simplicity Parenting is that the process is all about taking a bigger picture view of your family values, not defining them for you.

One could easily argue that by having a third child that I just rapidly complicated my life, rather than simplified it. And you would be both right and wrong. Right in the sense that I now that three beings to care, clothe, and feed til college and beyond. Wrong because regardless of the number of children, I still have one parenting objective: raise a family that is united in our values. I felt like with two that it would always be a “divide and conquer” mentality, and that hopefully now with three children we’ll make our decisions based on what’s best for the whole family.

At just six weeks into motherhoodX3, I feel blessed…even if the goal of simplicity is now that much more complicated.

How has having more kids complicated your life? 


PS My gay neighbors are happy that we’re doing the procreating for them 😉

Hosting Portland Simplicity Parenting Workshops

Simplicity Parenting illustrationI’m excited to announce that I’ll be hosting a Simplicity Parenting workshops starting this January. The seven-week workshop series is based on curriculum developed from Kim John Payne’s popular book, Simplicity Parenting; Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids. While the book itself is very accessible, applying the common sense values in your everyday family life can prove more challenging (or at least it has for me!).

The workshops are an opportunity to learn, strategize and apply simplicity in your family life. While I highly recommend reading (or rereading) the book throughout the series, the workshops are designed to be more than just a book club discussion. Each class will focus on what’s happening in your family, and how you can apply the methodology to create “small doable changes” that over time will transform your family.

What I love most about Simplicity Parenting is that it’s not a one-sized-fits-all parenting doctrine, but a common sense framework that asks you to reflect on what works (or doesn’t work) in your family. It’s as much about intentional parenting/living, as it is about simplifying. This course material, combined with group discussion, equips parents to check-in with their own values, and reconnect with their initial dream for their family.

The workshops are a big commitment, but so is parenting. Simplicity Parenting isn’t a quick fix idea, but an incremental process of reflecting on four primary areas of your family life and values. Yet, by applying the principles, gradually your intentions will align with your higher goals.

I’ll be sharing more in this new blog about my personal reasons for being attracted to Simplicity Parenting, but suffice it to say that every busy modern family could benefit from thinking critically about their family values. Life happens so fast, but with simplicity there is more room for joy and ease.

Please join me on this journey,


PS Learn more about the workshops and sign up today!

Welcome to Darcy’s Utopia!

Darcy and Teagan rotary 3 weeks oldThis is the place where dreams meet reality.  This is place where family values are created and sustainable living is possible.

I’ve always been inspired by the notion of utopia. I first deeply considered the idea when living on exchange in Denmark, while reading the English novel aptly named Darcy’s Utopia (by Fay Weldon). It got me thinking about my own cultural values and the type of world I would create.

Now, as a mother of three, I feel like every day is an opportunity to define and create my own utopia. My husband, Kevin, is my co-creator, and thankfully, after eleven years of marriage, we are mostly unified in our quest for a more harmonious family and a better world. It’s about reflecting on the many humbling lessons of parenthood, and hoping that with real honesty, integrity will flourish.

Striving for utopia is not the same as living in la-la land or narcissistic naval gazing. It’s not all about me and the way I wish the world would be or how perfect our family is/could/should be.

My version of utopia is very much centered around reaching beyond myself to learn and grow. Creating my utopia is about creating a connected community where caring and reciprocity are second nature. Sustainable living is simple and systems are geared to help us make the natural choice. It’s about living in the moment and connecting with nature. Utopia to me is the gift of raising the next generation and having the faith that together we will continue to thrive, while reveling in the wonder and joy that this earth holds.

Darcy’s Utopia will be a place to explore the paradoxes that challenge me on my path to such lofty aspirations. Blogging is my creative outlet, and I’m ready to take it to a deeper level. I love writing, and I can only hope that by expressing my hopes and fears to the world that I’ll inch closer toward utopia.

Blog Themes:

  • Simplicity Parenting – I’ve been certified as a Group Leader and plan to launch my first workshop series this winter, January 2014. This blog will be a forum for me to share how the philosophy fits into my actual family life…both the challenges and the joys.
  • Sustainable Family Living – A central family value is our continual goal to living a more sustainable lifestyle. In my first blog I chronicled many of these projects, like reducing our carbon footprint and investing in Clean Energy Works. We’ve also made efforts to use cloth diapers and bike commute or use mass transit with kids. We are also working to implement a permaculture plan and get our Backyard Habitat Certification.
  • Family Travel and Adventures –  Family fun is a true priority for us. Whether it’s playing in the backyard or planning a 3-week family trip to Denmark, we love a good adventure. We’ve invested in family beach cabins so that we can have a place to create family traditions and connect with nature.
  • Giving Back – If there is one thing that I hope defines me, it’s my desire to give back and help others. I am an active member of the Portland Pearl Rotary, where I volunteer regularly and donate to both local and global causes. I have an ongoing Kiva Experiment, and have more than quadrupled my impact on entrepreneurs and families around the globe.
  • Creating a Tribe – Community is something I feel is sorely lacking in our society today. We are often too busy to make deep lasting connections, nonetheless just meet our neighbors. One of my long term goals to create a tribe where my family can thrive, both giving generously of ourselves and feeling fully supported and connected.

Thanks again for taking the time to read/follow my blog…I really appreciate it.  I hope you’ll join me, while crafting your own genre of bliss.

Have a beautiful day!