Whether you are a new parent or have multiple children, parenting can seem like such a daunting task. How to simplify parenting will always be something that you want to know the answer to.
There are so many different schools of thought when it comes to the psychology behind parenting, which method you should use, what actions are harmful to your children and which ones will stunt their development.
Every parent just wants to do their best, so wouldn’t it be great if you could simplify parenting and make it easier for you and your children?
How To Simplify Parenting
There is no easy fix, but we have put together this useful guide to help you keep parenting more simple. It is inspired by the somewhat relaxed approach called ‘natural parenting’, and will help you find a way of parenting that is just right for your family.
What Is Natural Parenting?
There is no straightforward definition of natural parenting as it is quite a broad concept that includes lots of different ideas. It can involve attachment parenting, home schooling, holistic health practices- or for some families natural parenting might not include any of these things!
Generally speaking, natural parenting is a relaxed approach that allows the child to reach important developmental milestones at their own pace. The aim is to provide a safe, stable, loving environment based on unconditional love and acceptance.
This will nurture the child and foster a respectful relationship between the parent and child. Disciple is not aggressive or confrontational- there is no shouting or emotional punishment, and every mistake is seen as an opportunity to grow and learn.
The goal is for the parent to become very in tune with their child so they know what they need to do to simplify parenting in a natural way.
It just so happens that a lot of people who embody the natural parenting style are also very environmentally conscious, which means that this parenting method has also become heavily associated with an eco-friendly lifestyle.
So how can you simplify parenting, using the techniques of natural parenting?
Declutter: Less Is More
A lot of children these days have an abundance of toys- every birthday and Christmas they are bought many new toys and their bedroom or playroom becomes overcrowded with gadgets and characters from tv shows.
But having too much choice can actually make it more difficult for children to play, and can stop them from wanting to engage in more creative forms of play like drawing, coloring, storytelling and imaginary games outdoors.
You don’t necessarily need to ask your relatives to stop buying presents for your children, but you could encourage them to buy other kinds of presents like books, coloring pencils, paint sets, dressing up costumes, or other things that will stimulate your child’s imagination and give them more variety in their playtime.
An easy way to simplify parenting is to normalize getting rid of toys after a certain amount of time – if your child doesn’t play with something very often then you could donate it to a charity shop or a children’s hospital.
Make sure you involve your child in this process- you can sort through their toys together and this will also teach them about sharing and giving and will discourage them from being materialistic.
To avoid this process being distressing for your child, make sure you keep their favorite toys and any that they have an emotional attachment to.
Information Overload: Reduce Screen Time
Another way to simplify parenting is to reduce screen time.
With handheld tablets designed for children, smartphone applications for learning to go potty or to tell the time, and multiple tv channels dedicated to children’s programmes, it is no wonder that children spend so much of their time looking at a screen.
While some television shows and games can be educational or relaxing, too much screen time can have a negative impact on your child’s social and cognitive development.
Many experts in children’s development and welfare believe that children below the age of 12 should not use a screen for more than one hour per day.
Watching too much television can also overload your children with information and expose them to things that they cannot comprehend.
If you let your children watch the news they learn about events and issues across the world which will be too overwhelming, which can lead to issues with anxiety.
There are other ways to teach your child about the world around them and different cultures without causing them damage.
Take your child to the library and help them choose a book about a different country, or about history. Take them outdoors to learn about nature and animals.
Gentle Discipline: Learn Through Love
You can also learn to simplify parenting through gentle discipline. It can be too easy to lose your temper or resort to aggression when it comes to disciplining your children, but it is the opposite of simple.
Speaking to your children this way will cause problems in your family home and could cause emotional damage which will impact their development.
If you shout at your children, use emotional punishments, or treat them disrespectfully then you are teaching them some worrying things.
Firstly, that it is okay for them to speak to others this way. Secondly, that it is okay for people other than you to speak to them this way. This makes them vulnerable to unhealthy friendships and relationships as they get older.
It takes patience, but you should always try to speak to your children calmly and respectfully. This does not mean that you shouldn’t discipline them, but your reactions to their behavior should be rational and calm.
If your child knows that they are loved and accepted they will feel more secure, and this provides a much better environment for them to grow and develop and learn from their mistakes.
If you have young children who are displaying negative or unwanted behavior then you should tell them no, then redirect them to a more positive behavior.
As your children get older and their level of understanding increases, you can start explaining to them why you want them to stop doing certain things.
Teach them about how their negative behavior affects the people around them, so they can learn compassion. Give them a safe space to talk about how they feel, so they don’t act out because they are confused and overwhelmed by their emotions.
This style of discipline gives your children what they need in order to develop the important skill of regulating their own behavior.
Simple Pleasures: Find Joy In The Little Things
You might think that you need to take your children on fancy holidays or expensive day trips to keep them entertained but this is not the case.
Finding simple activities to do as a family is a wholesome way to spend time together and keep your children entertained and is a great method to simplify parenting.
It also teaches them the important skill of finding joy in the little things in life, which sets them up to be much more content and satisfied as they move into adulthood.
You could go on a family walk and see how many different kinds of leaves you can find, and take one of each home to do leaf rubbing. You could bake something together like a cake or cookies.
Let your children take it in turns to choose a film for family movie night and make a nice big bowl of popcorn for everyone to share.
On a rainy day, spread a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic. Go to the beach to collect shells, then use them to make a hand-made picture frame. None of these activities are expensive or complicated, but your children will love them.
These experiences are not just a great way to spend time as a family, but they also help with your child’s development and learning.
Down Time: Don’t Be Too Busy
It can be tempting to try and fill every day with organized fun to keep your children happy, but this is not actually what they need. If you keep your children too busy this can lead to over-stimulation which can cause stress and negative behavior.
It also makes them very reliant on you or their friends for entertainment and happiness.
You need to make sure that included in your child’s schedule is some down time for them to relax and to simplify parenting for you.
Whether they read a book, play with their toys, do some quiet coloring, or play outside in the garden, they need to have some free time which they can fill with an activity of their own choosing.
This means they can be active or sedentary, use their imagination or give their brain time to rest- whatever they need.
Your child might seek out company at this time, which is fine. If they get bored or lonely then let them join in with whatever you are doing – cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, walking the dog, reading, gardening. This will teach them about responsibility and helping out around the house.
School Support: Engage But Don’t Control
A big part of being a parent is supporting your child with their education. It can be tempting to take too much control, but if you overstep the boundaries this can put a lot of pressure on your children.
If you create a safe environment with open communication then your child should already feel comfortable talking to you about school and sharing information with you, which will allow you to stay involved without being overbearing.
You should encourage your child to talk to you about what they learned in school, but don’t put them under pressure. Let them share on their own terms and at their own pace, so they don’t feel like they have to impress you.
Offer them help with reading and homework, but don’t force your help on them.
As they get older and they get more homework and tests to study for you might be tempted to create schedules and timetables for them. It is better for your child if they learn to manage their own time.
This might mean that they miss some deadlines or under prepare a few times, but this is all part of the learning process.
If they make these mistakes when they are older they can learn how to manage their time, and they won’t make those same mistakes when they are older and the tests become more and more important.
It is also important that your child feels that they are in the driving seat when it comes to their school career, so they learn to motivate themselves and understand the value of hard work.
Simplifying parenting in this way will have pros for both parents and children alike.
Individuality: Encourage Their Interests
If your child feels like they are being pushed in a certain direction they might resist, and this will cause friction. It can be tempting to encourage them to take part in the same activities or hobbies that you had at that age, even if they don’t seem very interested.
The best thing to do is let them figure out their passions for themselves. You can facilitate this by giving them lots of opportunities to try new things, but always listen and pay attention when they talk to you about it.
Is the activity making them happy? Do they enjoy it? Do they want to do it again?
If you pay attention, you will pick up on what they do and don’t enjoy. If your child feels like they have the freedom to pursue their passions and interests they will be much more content and satisfied, and it will lay important foundations for their future life.
These are just some of the things you can try to simplify parenting and create a more positive environment in your home. There are lots more steps you can take, but the most important thing is to let love be the motivation for your actions.
Treat your child with dignity and respect, let them be their own person, and make sure that they feel loved and accepted. Discourage materialism and encourage imagination, expression, and creativity.
Spend lots of time together as a family doing simple, wholesome activities, and encourage open communication so you all feel safe and comfortable together.