Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Review: Living simply with children and some thoughts

I have just finished to read this book:

It has been on my amazon wish list for such a long time, and for some reason, I kept putting off buying it.

I read Simplicity parenting before, a super interesting book by Kim John Payne, and loved it. ( and highly recommend it)

It discusses simplicity with young children, with a Waldorf point of view, so I was not convinced that I would be able to really find something different enough to justify buying it. Well, I finally took the plunge, and I am SO glad that I did.

I feel like this book tackles a bit more topics then Simplicity parenting. Or should I say complement. There are so many valuable advises that I took from SP, but I was able to add or reinforce some other topics with Living simply with children. The topic of school, money, environement, things that I don't recall reading in SP. There is also a wealth of informations, links, ressources and all at the end of each chapters so if you feel the need to deepen your knowledge on one topic, it is rather easy to do.

The author really loves the book "your money or your life" and mentionnes it many times through out the book. I might give it a look eventually.

I love how she stresses that simple living is not something you do because you are poor or can make it, but because you make a choice. Or should I say CHOICES. You have to decide what are your priorities, where do you want to go, and what is the best route to get there. If things are for you, you need to work, and thus get less time. But if you rather time and relationships, then forget the things, and get the time.

My thoughts and conclusion after ready this book:

It is crazy how the arrival of children in your life make you reconsider many things, your way of living, your values... I guess we call this grow. This is something that has happened with the arrival of both my child and is happenning again this time around. I feel like at every preparation for this new arrival, I did a step further in a direction, and I am realizing that this direction has not changed since the beginning of this. I am just walking deeper into a road that seem to uncover itself as I go, and as our lives changes. I don't think there is an ending destination, I think it is the journey that matters. But that journey really is rooted in simplicity for me. Everytime I started to feel overwhelemed or just bad (not being able to define what was going on), something happened that made me simplify more, and suddenly, things started to make sense again.

Simplicity comes easily, anytime, and just feel so good to me, to us...

I am realising, after putting down this book, that materialism is really something I am struggling with. I really feel a weight with material possessions, and feel just so much lighter when not in a" owning" state of mind. I was scared to have kids, because the vision I had of childhood is the one that is promoted by commercial and the materialistic world we live in. Comes with a child tons of stuff and that scared me. I didn't want to go through this. And yet, we had a kid, and entered this world of consumerism, and god did that not feel good. I hate that people around me would somehow decide how our lifes would be by getting us what they thought was useful for a baby: mobile with lights and music, plastic toys, musical toys and so on. But after some much soul searching, and reading, and surfing, I found that there is another way to live and there are other things that can be done then just stick to the images that we see everywhere of what life and childhood should be.

First thing to do: close the TV!

And then follow your heart and your soul.

Yes, I am currently in a journey of change, and our way of life has tremendously changed in the last five years. We have tried stuff, made mistake, tried other things, took some wrong turns, and now are trying to become what our family is by picking what resonates with us.

Although I have said not so long ago how Waldorf did not resonate all that much with us, I have to retract that. When I first started to research Waldorf, I read a lot, and was influenced by the forums at Mothering.com. So I was exposed to the outside world of Waldorf, the one that is being more and more popular right now: the beautiful toys notably. And while I DO NOT want to bash in any ways the wonderful posters over there, I feel like materialism is a common trend that kinda turned me off. We are, therefore, currently living deep into many of the Montessori principles since my son attend a Montessori preschool and is so happy in this environement, but there also, I felt the burden of materialism weighing on me when thinking about using this as homeschooling method.

But after the rain, the sun always comes out!

But recently, I have found something else. I was searching for a post by a wonderful mama about bedtime where she was linking me to her blog. And gosh did I love what I read. I wasn't aware at the time that she was Waldorf or anything, I just loved the ideas and the feel of that post. I went back to it about 2-3 weeks ago, and then my curiosity was piqued seing that she also had so many things to say about Waldorf, things that were way further from the best toys, the necessary items, basically, nothing that had to do with owning things, but rather living Waldorf. And in one of her post, I stumbled about a yahoo group adress: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorfhomeeducators/?yguid=301863949 where she claimed there was many articles about Waldorf that were really a must to read. Being the curious person that I am, I HAd to go and see.

And I have to agree. I have found so many things that totally resonates with me. Many that adresses the dangers of materialism, of commercialism, of TV and everything that comes with it.

Yesterday, I was meditating on the topic of newborns. MY soon to be newborn. What does he really need? Does he really need "things"? And giving a quick look in the file section, I found an article written a couple of years ago by the owner of the list. I would love to share this part of the article with you:

"Soon, though, within perhaps minutes, the weight of materialism beings to exert itself into the realm of the child: possessions and objects. Humanity does bear the burden of both consumerism and clever mass production capacities. We overflow with things, we drown in stuff, we wade through our homes and garages and sheds and attics and basements and storage spaces and barns and warehouses and containers and malls and giant cargo ships, with closets, drawers, and shelves overflowing with physical matter."


"Well intended parents and relatives stock these rooms with every imaginable beautiful “natural” toys. Hand carved wooden animals fill barns, needle felted villagers populate oak-tree dwellings, handmade dolls with exquisite clothing lie in bunk beds, and china tea sets rest on hand spun plant dyed organic cotton placemats! Dozens of toys line the shelves and floor. Can the young spirit breathe in this space? What can unfold in the inner realms when surrounded by a plethora of objects, colors, shapes, forms, sensory impressions?

In this light, then, if you provide the child with hardened images, and objects, in your home or classroom, then you rob the child of this important venue of spiritual education, one that begins at birth...


Even in the Waldorf world, materialism raises its head with the advent of professionally produced ‘toys’ and products, aimed at capturing the market share of the ‘natural market’. Homes and classes filled with ‘made’ objects or ‘made’ ideas, are offering hardened thinking to the children, no matter how beautiful or gloriously created these items are. These objects are designed to appeal to us, to the adults, who yearn for the days when a simple stick could be literally anything. We need and admire these beautiful creations, much more than the child under age seven does...

Nature tables are becoming filled with human-manufactured objects, pushing aside the plants, leaves, wood, and stones. ..."

Written by Marsha Johnson

And that. That article, really made me think through the night (while baby was obviously having a gymnastic class in there...) it lifted a veil over Waldorf, one that I was not fond of.

I am still unsure what route we'll be using when comes the "pedagogy" times. But I feel like I have seen something that I can really relate to. The more I am reading about the less known sides of waldorf, the more interested I am in reading some more. There are things that I don't relate to, and that don't resonate with me. But I am grateful to have the time to learn, and read and try! Isn't this fantastic to have the time to try, and to feel how this and that makes us feel? It is the best way to truly find what you are, to customize your life the way you want, and not being dictated what you should think and do and have!. Trying, making mistakes, trying again, and then knowing.

I will continue to make mistakes and learn, and while all that, I am confident that I will find my path, the one I am supposed to be on. And there is one thing I know, simplicity and simple living, is part of it.

Yes, I am nesting big time. But I think whoever is out there over us designed this period to give us the chance to change and find a new path, one we should be on. I am all ears!


  1. What a lovely and thought-provoking post...
    Many blessings to you!
    Carrie :)

  2. "Simply Simple" was our slogan from the very beginning... long before we became parents... long before we even married. But if then it mostly sounded romantic, it turned out to be not so simple when the time passed and decisions needed to be made. And still, even if it is much harder to live simple (isn't it ridiculous by itself?), I couldn't choose any other way of parenting. I truly believe that when you become a parent, you can never longer hide from your real you... even if this path it is much harder to follow...