Family Screen Time Policy

First, a quick update to let all of you who have been on the fence about signing up for Simplicity Parenting know that I’ve decided to condense the curriculum into just five workshops, starting in February. This will make them cost less money and be less of a time commitment. Check out the details on my webpage: Portland Simplicity Parenting Workshops

Like many families, screen time has been a real challenge for us. In the early years we learned the hard way that any more than an hour of cartoons would somehow melt our son’s brain. Thankfully, we learned the first time, so we never experienced the same post-cartoon-meltdown-syndrome with our daughter. And it does amaze me how much they learn from Wild Kratz or Word Girl.

Yet, our second grade son has recently become pretty brazen about trying to sneak computer time. Even though I try to remember to log off, I often forget, only to find him under his covers with the laptop. Finally, we ended up taking away screen time for the rest of month. But we knew that was only a stop gap measure, and we needed to make our expectations and limits much clearer.

So, over the winter break, we drafted up a Family Screen Time Policy.

We didn’t reinvent the wheel, and the policy is pretty much a summary of what we’ve already been doing with some small tweaks for clarity. Every family is going to have their own limits, and like most of the ideas on this article about how to set screen limits (We use a timer already…I think I’ll have to start using the Clean = Screen idea). Even though we debated a bit and will likely tweak some more, it feels good to have something down on paper (actually posted inside our kitchen cabinet and in their bedroom).

Your child will likely want to compare with other kids. Believe me, its frustrating to have a friend come over and brag about how much screen time they get at home. Speaking of which, we don’t try to limit screen time on play dates. I don’t feel comfortable imposing our parenting “policies” on other parents. If it became a problem, I’d figure a way to address it, but I figure the benefits of learning how to engage socially likely outweigh. Plus, the kids are likely to get bored and want to play something else.

Interestingly, our daughter shows very little interest in her own screen time. As we had our son read the full policy, she never asked “what about my screen time?!” No doubt that day will come, but for now she’s thrilled to get a Friday Night Family Movie and cartoons in the morning.

We know that this so-called policy will certainly change over time, especially as homework begins to require research. But it still feels good to have an agreed upon starting place that feels reasonable for our kids as well as us.

If you’re not already inspired to draft up your own family screen time policy, check out these infographics on TodaysMama that show how much screen time kids get and alternative ideas to keep them active (kids 8-10 get 6 hours a day!)

What kind of screen time limits/allowances do you have in place? How have they evolved?

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

Creating “Small Doable Changes” in the New Year

I used to find New Year’s anticlimactic, with college parties that never lived up to their hype. Now I love celebrating the New Year as a family. It helps that we have fantastic friends to watch the ball drop in NYC and head home before anyone gets belligerent.

But the real reason I love this season is because I make time for cozy reflection and dreaming of new adventures.

I love getting a new calendar, and writing down the many traditions we have to look forward to each year. With three January birthdays, we always start the year with more celebrations. We plan a few long weekends for camping trips, and a further excursion each August for our anniversary.

I gave up on standard new year’s resolutions some time ago, but I still appreciate the fresh start that the new year offers. Instead of grand gestures, Simplicity Parenting encourages “small doable changes.” 

Simplicity shouldn’t feel insurmountable. It should be simple. That’s the point, right?

Yet, the way world typically works is that we all live on autopilot as much as possible. We go about our days hoping that things will be as predictable as possible, and hopefully within our control. But as parents, we know the ideal world isn’t always our reality. Sometimes there is spilled milk…broken cookies…sibling struggles…

And sometimes those struggles reach a point where change just NEEDS to happen, NOW.

The good news is that these breaking points often create breakthroughs. Truly, the only way anything ever really changes is when someone or some small group of thoughtful people decide that the status quo can no longer be tolerated, and therefore the sacrifices that change often requires suddenly feel manageable.

Creating “small doable changes” has become my saving grace. By nature I like to dream big, but that doesn’t help solve the day-t0-day challenges of parenting. I always remember a gift box my Mom gave me: “Inch by Inch, Life’s a Cinch. Yard by Yard, it’s Hard.”

So, for 2014 I am aiming to create more family balance in each of the realms of Simplicity Parenting…making sure to keep them bite-sized.

  • Environment – Permaculture Plan – Continue to implement our permaculture plan and get out in the garden at least three times a week (hopefully much more often now that I’m not living at the office. (I could  set a BIG DAUNTING task of continuing the empty our basement, but it doesn’t truly inspire me and we have accomplished a great deal of purging in the past few months.)
  • Rhythms – Friday Pizza Night. We almost always eat pizza on Friday nights, alternating between making it at home and going out. Lately we’ve been having more friends come over to join us and it’s been a lot of fun and easy to host. So, I’d like to start planning something almost monthly.
  • Scheduling – Mommy Pooling – After a recent ankle surgery I ended up needing to rely on a neighbor friend to help with kid drop offs and pick ups. And it actually ended up showing us both how doable it would be for us to alternate walking/biking or sometimes driving the kids to school. So, for the past month we’ve been working out a schedule that has mostly been mutually beneficial. We still have some nuances to work out (it turns out that my pre-k daughter really misses it when I don’t drop her off, and I actually enjoy socializing by the playground after school), but I’m hopeful that we are creating a long-term support network for each other. Plus, the kids have really enjoyed it and after the first week requested their first-ever sleepover, which was also a success.
  • Media – Family Screen Policy – Lately we’ve been having screen time sagas…our Big Guys keeps sneaking off to his room with the laptop, not caring about the consequence. So, I have a bigger post to share soon, but we have written a policy that creates clear expectations, limits and consequences.

What “small doable changes” have you been dreaming up lately?

Lastly, if you’re in Portland, there is still room in my upcoming Simplicity Parenting workshop group. I would love to fill up the cozy room with parents ready to reflect and create a more simplified lifestyle. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions (darcyrosecronin@gmail.com or 503-998-7507).

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

 

Christmas Countdown vs. Simplicity Slowdown

Simplicity Parenting for the holidays

Avoid the holiday stress with a simple values test…even Santa will thank you.

The Christmas countdown has begun and maybe you’re thinking that it’s already too late to slow down during this holiday season…you’ll simplify next year…

I know from experience that it can be hard to get off the activity/obligation treadmill once you are on it, especially during the holidays. But it’s also never too late to listen to that inner parenting voice telling you to slow down and not get caught up in the all-the-kids-are-getting-(you name the latest trend) shopping pressure.

No matter how intentional you are in finding age-appropriate and creative gifts, there’s often a good chance that your child will be bestowed with gifts from well-intentioned family/friends that don’t jibe with your family values. In my family, after being overwhelmed with gifts a few too many times, we actually put forward an “Official Gift Policy a few years back. I’m proud to say that we’ve managed to implement the policy and have only had one misunderstanding (when Hubby tried to extend it to another family member via email…this type of policy definitely needs a personal conversation to convey).

And yet even though we’ve set fairly firm limits, I don’t think I’ve gone through a Christmas yet without wondering if Santa will disappoint. I don’t want to feel ungenerous. I fear facing a sulking child. I fret that since we buy gifts only for the holidays/birthdays that I may not find the “perfect” gift. Thankfully, these fears have never materialized. This year my Pre-K Girly was honestly wishing that Santa would visit each family member before giving any real thought to her short wish list. Our Big Guy now believes that this is annual shot at getting Legos from Santa, and made sure to pick out sets that cost less than $50 without me even suggesting it.

Again, Simplicity Parenting is all about finding the right balance for your family, but when it comes to the holidays, I suggest this simple values test:

  • How much will X gift add to our household clutter? Is it containable? Does your daughter already have six baby dolls?
  • What holiday traditions are you creating? What does your family look forward to each year with joy and anticipation…minus stress and obligation?
  • Are you spending more time shopping than creating/playing with your kids? Does schedule have you racing to get places? Do you have time for year-end reflection?

There are no “right” answers to this test, except once you feel more at ease during a season where we rightfully ought to pause to savor moments of peace and togetherness.

How does your family truly celebrate the countdown?

————
Darcy Cronin is a mother of three, blogger, and small business adventurer. Darcy became certified as a Simplicity Parenting Coach to help families create paths toward meaningful values and more sustainable lifestyles. Follow her blog and sign up for workshops at Darcy’s Utopia.

Dear Child…

Mommy Journal, Reflecting about motherhood.

My journal…just loved this Golden Book as a kid.

My third child is three months now, and I feel like I’ve taken very little time to reflect. Aside from writing up her birth story, I haven’t managed to capture the magic that happens in the small moments.

When my daughter Makenna was born I made an effort to journal, but never wrote regularly. I happened to pick up the journal the other day with a fresh cup of coffee. I read through the whole thing and wrote a few new pages.

One trend I find in these entries is that they are a very idealized version of my experience of motherhood, but thinking about it more, I realized that that’s exactly how I want it to be. I think it’s important to dwell on the good times. They say that gratitude is the key to prosperity and joy, and I couldn’t agree more.

A good friend of mine who has been blogging her way around the world did a series last summer called “Dear Life” and it was simply beautiful. She wrote brief reflections of gratitude and asked her many readers to do the same. People from all over the world shared their most intimate musings about life, and it was truly inspiring, sometimes tear-jerking. Most of all, they were authentic and heartfelt. So, I’ve decided to start a blog series called “Dear Child,”

12/9/13

Dear Child,

Sorry for snapping at you for pouring orange juice into your sister’s cereal bowl, and vice versa. I should know by now that life is still one funny experiment, and chance to push your parent’s buttons. We are both doing our best in the moments we are given. While there are more transgressions and regressions that I hope for, I know in the scheme of childhood you are still thriving and somehow learning how to get along in this world.

It’s a joy to se your faces light up in the glow of the freshly decorated tree, and the genuine concern when Dad warns that Santa may not stop by if you keep calling each other names. But I appreciated how short your wish lists are and how your are excited that your gifts from us will be memorable experiences. I’m glad that you think of others during this gift giving season. I may be equally excited about all the fun memories we’ll be making together this holiday season.

It will be Teagan’s first Christmas, and she reminds me of just how cozy it is to just sit and cuddle. She makes people light up everywhere she goes and radiates pure joy. As I’ve been preparing her birth announcements and our annual family letter, I look forward to sharing them with friends and family.

Love,

Mom

I’m going to try writing a post every Monday morning, figuring that reflectiving in a good way to start the week. Actually, “Reflective Practice” was a core component of my graduate program that focused on how to be an agent of social change. At the time I was challenged by the idea of spending time in vague reflection with so many books to read and papers to write, but through blogging I’ve found that reflecting regularly really does help you grow and put things in perspective.

To kick things off, I’m going to go out on a limb and be vulnerable, sharing my inner most thoughts in a way that would make Brene Brown proud. I’ve typed up all of my previous journal entries and posted them to our family blog, West Coast Cronin Clan.

So, if you are feeling inspired…I would love to help share your reflections… and hope you will send me your own “Dear Child” entries. Please include the date/place in your email to me.

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

Simplicity Santa Workshop with urbanMamas

Simplicity Parenting Christmas

No need to sew a Santa costume to celebrate the season..like my Mom did for my Dad as a kid 😉

I’m excited to announce that next week I’ll be hosting an free Simplicity Santa Workshop in partnership with UrbanMamas.

Here are the quick event details to add to your calendar:

Where: Milagros Boutique – 5433 NE 30th Ave (NE Killingsworth)

When: Thursday, December 12th, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

RSVP: darcysutopiapdx@gmail.com or just post a comment below

I’ve been a fan of urbanMamas since they began connecting Portland Mamas, and look forward to guest blogging and partnering with them. Visit the urbanMamas website for the rest of the details. Wine and snacks will be provided…thanks urbanMamas!

Join us to get a fresh perspective on the holidays, and learn about the Simplicity Parenting movement.

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

Why Become A Simplicity Parenting Coach?

Usually the signs aren't this clear, but we should still look out for them...

Usually the signs aren’t this clear, but we should still look out for them…

As a new small business venturer, I’ve been networking a lot lately. This means sharing my professional story and why I’m taking this leap of faith to pursue my passions (a key to success according to $100 Startup).

Becoming a Simplicity Parenting Coach and writer/blogger simply feels like what I need to do to help my own family reach our potential and while being a resource and inspiration to other families in the process. It also feels like an evolution of my career. So, here’s my story about developing my career, which has been defined by pursuing my passions:

I was in 8th grade when I decided with some conviction that “I wanted to grow up to be an environmentalist.” During my freshman year I truly fell in love with writing, but I couldn’t picture myself ever being an author in the traditional sense. I continued to love writing and all things environmental throughout high school and college. Yet, I grew up in a very small logging community in Southern Oregon during the height of the spotted owl controversy. So, instead of being vocal about my philosophical/political opinions, I focused my energy on writing and leading by example or at least that’s what my guidance counselor observed about me. I made practically every paper I wrote in high school into some type of environmental research report (I was initially inspired by writing a “history” paper about Earth Day). I also loved kids and babysat practically full-time.

In college I worked toward a double major in Environmental Studies and International Studies, and I pictured myself working/living abroad on climate change policy. I spent my senior year volunteering for the Greenhouse Network presenting a speech about the personal impacts of climate change on college campuses. My senior year I remember my extended family skeptically asking me what I was going to do with such degrees, and I boldly told them that I wanted to work for a non-profit in Portland doing climate change advocacy. Then, even to my own surprise, I landed a job doing just that starting two weeks after graduation.

A year later I was lucky enough to attend a U.N. climate change conference in Germany. Yet, rather than inspiring me to pursue a career internationally, it made me realize just how intractable the global negotiations truly are and that I would end up feeling ineffective and burnt out if I followed that path (plus, Bush was in power and just two months later, after 9/11, my grant funding ended). I then became convinced that my best shot at influencing change would be at the local government level. (My twin sister was in Peace Corps at the time and continues to be a globetrotting professional…currently helping with the relief efforts in the Philippines).

So, after reaching my peak in the non-profit sector, I went back to graduate school to earn my Master’s in Environment and Community from Antioch University Seattle’s Center for Creative Change. The program truly blew my mind open. I learned about how to create social change from a system thinking perspective, plus honed my writing and collaboration skills.

As hoped for, I announced that I was pregnant at graduation. I left academia behind and embraced motherhood. Yet, with immense student debt and a desire to make my mark in local government, I went to work for the City of Portland. I’ve advanced in several community-oriented positions over the past seven years, and even though I’ve had a few inspiring projects that I’m proud of, I reached a point where I could no longer tolerate working for an intolerant manager. Plus, the deeper I got into local government, the more I believe that I will be most effective at inspiring social change by focusing on my family and community.

So, that’s the lengthy background on how/why I was primed to embrace Simplicity Parenting. I care deeply about creating a sustainable society, but that can only happen one family at a time. So, I want to focus my energy on intentionally questioning the status quo. I want to inspire families in my community to find fun ways to create meaningful family values, lessen our carbon footprint, and celebrate simplicity.

And no, I’m not expecting to get rich quick with this aspirational business plan (breaking even is the first goal!). But I do know that I’m already experiencing more genuine abundance and joy in my life than ever before. I hope you will join me on this journey.

So, if you live in Portland, I hope you’ll give yourself and your family the gift of simplicity this season…please consider signing up for my upcoming workshops with your spouse or a friend.

Your path to Simplicity Parenting may well be less philosophical and more practical, but I’m certain that your family will gain a newfound appreciation of the simple, but profound, joys of embracing simplicity.

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

The Incredible Years Parenting Classes

Incredible Years Parenting Classes.

The Incredible Years Parenting Pyramid.

Early parenting happens in such a flurry of laundry and lunch spills that it can be hard to finish a thought, nonetheless have a meaningful conversation about how you want to parent.

When our Big Guy was a toddler and we we were thinking about getting pregnant again, we decided it would be a good idea to give this parenting thing some real thought. So, we enrolled in The Incredible Years parenting classes. At the time, it was being taught at our son’s preschool, Peninsula Children’s Center and was fully funded by the Portland Children’s Levy.

The series was a twelve-week commitment, with a two-hour session every Monday. Since child care was provided, we both took the class. Hubby was one of just two Dads, but it was a great way for us to feel like we were co-pilots (The parenting analogy that always sticks in my head is whether you’d want to be a child in a plane where the pilots are bickering about how to fly…it’s always better to co-pilot together and discuss your differences as a couple.)

The class turned out to be worth our time…I think it may be the only parenting book I’ve ever gotten Hubby to read. Now over five years later, there are a few things that still stick with me/us:

  • Importance of Playing with Your Child – This was a big focus of the class, and there were actually role playing sessions to get parents comfortable with the idea of playing again and to model how to play.
  • Build a Relationship Before Turning to Consequences – Often times consequences are created during a moment of “knee-jerk parenting.” Building a relationship through play and conversation, and family traditions is a more intentional way of getting to positive behavior you’re seeking.
  • Intentional Ignoring – I had never heard of ignoring as an actual parenting practice, but the Incredible Years classes showed plenty of examples of effective ignoring (in really low-budget badly-acted clips produced in the 80’s). Now I ignore as often as I can, and found it interesting that our Girly’s preschool uses this as a method for dealing with aggressors…the kids throw their chin up in the air to demonstrate ignoring. Sometimes I do this now for added effect.

We still have the Incredible Years Pyramid magnet on our fridge as a reminder of our class, and not long ago we decided that we need to reinstitute more play with Girly. She had been acting out and becoming aggressive/defiant with us. It had become obvious that she was craving more of our attention, since becoming a big sister (just 10 weeks ago now). So even though Hubby’s knee-jerk reaction was to take away her next ballet class, once everyone had calmed down, I convinced him that what she really needed was more of his undivided attention (he’d been coaching soccer on top of gushing over the baby). So for the past few weeks they’ve been spending more time together playing.

Our strategy for playtime is pretty simple. We like to say “Hey, we’ve got twenty minutes to play…do you want to play a game or read a book…?” We often end up playing for longer, but it’s too easy to convince yourself that you need a whole hour to really play. But in my experience, ten minutes of play time can stave off negative-attention-craving behavior and often gain some help following the play session. “Let’s play for 15 minutes, and when we’re done dinner will be almost ready and I’ll need your help setting the table…” Playtime may not be a magic potion, but it does help build a foundation.

Talking and problem-solving are other base strategies. When we talked with Girly about her angry feelings, she agreed that instead of hitting she could ask for a hug. So lately, instead of getting frustrated at her defiance we ask “Do you need a hug?” So far it’s working much better.

Have you taken the Incredible Years classes?

Do you prioritize playing with your kids?

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

How Does She Do It All?

I Don't Know How She Does It film graphicAfter searching unsuccessfully on Netflix for something entertaining, I happened upon Sarah Jessica Parker’s I Don’t Know How She Does It All (since I’ve been on bed rest/crutches for the past week, I felt overdue for a good film).

It turned out to be a funny heartfelt film that hit home in more ways that I even want to admit.  It’s a total chick flick, but I think husbands should be forced to watch it just to remind themselves of how hard we working parents (and that really does include so-called stay-at-home parents!) truly work to juggle it all. Here’s the trailer…

I hope you’ll watch this film, if only to get my inside-joke reflections, plus it truly is funny and heartfelt. 🙂

I’ve always told myself that I enjoy being a working mother, and for the most part I wouldn’t be lying. My kids thrived in all-day child care, even when I wished we didn’t have to leave the house by 7 a.m. and get home around 6 p.m. (both in the dark!) We had plenty of healthy family rhythms, and Hubby eventually learned that he did in fact need to share in dinner duty if he wanted to eat (or have an overly stressed spouse).

Our Big Guy is learning lately in literacy class about identifying your in personal narrative, and this film really brought back some repressed mommy moments:

  • The List – truthfully now I even more lists now that I’m working from home, but the ever-present-always-increasing list has been my key to sanity (and self-imposed stress) for as long as I’ve been called Mommy. I could really relate when the husband teased about never getting to “baking lasagna” at the bottom of the list. As I was starting my maternity leave I dubbed mine as my “Wish List,” knowing that I simply wouldn’t get everything done before baby arrived, even with taking a two weeks “off” before the due date. As I went into labor my essential shopping list included supplies for making homemade ice cream and making play-dough for pre-k supply list…yes, I did have a big back-to-school shopping list on top of my getting-ready-for-a-homebirth list.
  • Mommy Wardrobe Malfunctions – Aside from permanently encrusted kid-smegma, I was always leery of leaving my nursing bra unstrapped or leaking through my nipple pads. Yet, my “most embarrassing moment” came when I breast pumping on a quick break at home between meetings in the field, and I somehow went to front door while I was still hand pumping only to surprise the mailman! I remember feeling very professional looking that day, but I don’t think that’s the impression I left…I’m just glad it wasn’t a co-worker!
  • Dreaded Lice – Head lice never comes at a happy moment. Our first case came at the hardest of times…so hard I’ve only shared the story with family until now. We were in the midst of preparing for my mother-in-law to visit from the east coast (we wish she could visit more often, but with the exception of this rare summer visit, she’s only come out west for our wedding and the kids’ birth). So, getting head lice news just before her arrival was horrifying. To make matters exponentially worse, with all the family stress, Hubby ended up making the poor choice of caring a flailing toddler up to his room only to “drop him on the floor” where he ended up with a small rug burn. This was enough to alert protective services, which ensued my “most mortifying mommy moment” of having to defend our parenting through an intensive “investigation”…the whole time regretting that I had opted to give our Big Guy his first buzz cut.
  • “All Those Kids” – I’m not sure why, but I was surprised by how much people reacted to me announcing that I was pregnant with my third child, or now my response to “Is this your first?” I’ve had sooo many people chuckle and say, “Well, are you going to call it good at 3 or just keep having more babies?!”
  • Milk Mania – I know her kids were past nursing, but I was kind of surprised that they didn’t add in some witty line about pumping milk at work. This was certainly the biggest challenge in the early stages of being a working mom. I was lucky to be close enough to nurse my babes during lunch breaks, but I still pumped the rest of the time. My Big Guy was such a big eater that I was always just a few freezer bags away from needing to use formula, and I was so headstrong that I woke up in the middle of the night to pump for the next day even when he was sleeping through the night. I told you, mania.

So even though I was a regular reader of Working Mother, and still identify as one, I am perpetually glad to creating my own career path. I’d rather “Lean Back” during this time in my family’s life than bulldoze through motherhood with an I-can-do-it-all attitude.

Darcy

@Darcy’s Utopia – Creating Utopia Together

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?

Darcy

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.

Darcy