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How To Simplify Your Parenting Style

Is your family life looking a little messy? Get organised! Simplify your parenting style to slow down and focus on what really matters.

Tantrums, unruly kids rushing around all day, and a chaotic, messy home – sometimes it becomes too much. We want what’s best for our children, but less can be more: less stimulation, less choice and less scheduled activity.  

When your family life goes from busy to frenetic, take a time- out. Pause. Breathe. And see how Simplicity Parenting can restore calmness and happiness in your life.  


Having too much stuff can be distracting and overwhelming. Reduce toys by discarding broken, developmentally inappropriate (too old, too young), high stimulation (video games, flashing lights, battery-operated) and duplicate (one instead of five teddies) ones.  

Keep their favourite toys nearby and visible and store the rest out of sight. Then, circulate them like a toy library – the same with books.  

“As you decrease the quantity of your child’s toys and clutter, you increase their attention and capacity for deep play,” says Kim John Payne, the education expert who came up with the term ‘Simplicity Parenting’. He advises to declutter the entire home, down to the lighting and noise, to reduce sensory overload.  

Dial Back Activities  

Learn to say “no, thanks” to avoid a schedule that’s more than busy. Be selective about playdates, birthday invitations, after-school sports, music lessons and other activities. This way your child has enough time to enjoy each activity and still have plenty of free time.   

“A child who doesn’t experience leisure (or better yet, boredom) will always be looking for external stimulation, activities, or entertainment,” says Payne. He regards boredom as a ‘gift’ because it sparks creativity and resourcefulness.   

A rhythmical, predictable home life provides kids with a safe harbour. Creating rhythm means they know what to expect  

Create A Rhythm  

A rhythmical, predictable home life provides kids with a safe harbour. Creating a rhythm means they know what to expect – not in the sense of rigid routines, but how the daily family life is structured.  

This includes setting time aside for rituals, such as quiet time to decompress; laying the supper table together; and having family meals where you chat about everyone’s day. Parents shouldn’t strive to make every day exceptional, but rather to teach children to appreciate normality.  

“When every note is a high note, children lose the ability to fully engage in the present and to regulate their own time”, says Payne. “Ordinary days are the sustaining notes of life.”  

Reduce Screen Time  

Getting kids away from their screens is the bane of modern-day parenting. But you need to take charge here, as too much screentime impacts on childhood development. In line with the American Academy of Paediatrics’ guidelines, Payne suggests moving electronic devices out of sight for younger children.  

Further, there should be no screens at all for children under two, and limited exposure for those aged two and older. This will allow kids to actively engage with the real world, play outdoors and free up family time. But this only works if parents get off their phones too…  

Let Them Be Children  

Be careful of what you say in front of children. Filter out any adult information that may worry or scare them. “Too much information does not ‘prepare’ a child for a complicated world; it paralyses them,” says Payne.  

That’s why adults should talk to children in an age- appropriate way, about topics they can fully understand. The idea is to limit our fast-paced ‘too much, too soon’ culture and instead to provide a simple and stress-free childhood for as long as possible.  

Good Reads: To learn more, check out these parenting self-help books:  

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne   

Simple Happy Parenting: The Secret of Less for Calmer Parents and Happier Kids by Denaye Barahona   

Minimalist Moms: Living and Parenting with Simplicity by Diane Boden  


Words by Silke Colquhoun
Photography: Gallo/Getty Images