Kim John Payne, M.ED offers do-able ways to build deep connections with our children that give families resiliency and simple joy. Find out more at

476: Relisten: Simplicity Parenting (205)

Kim John Payne

The stress of too busy and too much stuff really can be hard on kids—and affect how they cooperate with you (or not). Happily, we can turn things around. And it’s even better if we do it together.

So today, I’m inviting you to be a part of this conversation about how to simplify our family lives so we can focus on what really matters.

Relisten: Simplicity Parenting-Kim John Payne (205) [476]

Read the Transcript 🡮

*This is an auto-generated transcript*

Hunter: Hey there, it's Hunter, and welcome to Throwback Thursday. Most Thursdays, we are going to re release one of my favorite episodes from the archives. So unless you're a longtime listener of the show, there's a good chance you haven't heard this one yet. And even if you had, chances are that you are going to get something new listening to it this time around.

[00:00:18] Kim John Payne: It's not that one needs to opt out of modern life. It's, it's simply the fact that we need to question it and give what is right at the right time. Time we need, in a sense to be sentinels. We need to stand at the gate of our family life and let in what we're comfortable with and hold out what we are not.

[00:00:39] Hunter: You are listening to The Mindful Mama Podcast, episode 205. Today we're talking about Simplicity Parenting with Campaign.

Welcome to the Mindful Parenting Podcast. Here it's about becoming a less irritable, more joyful parent. I'm mindful parenting. We know that you cannot give what you do not have, and when you have calm and peace within, then you can give it to your children. I'm your host, Hunter Clark Fields. I help smart, thoughtful parents stay calm so they can have strong, connected relationships with their children.

I've been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. I'm the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, and I'm the author of the international bestseller, Raising Good Humans, and now Raising Good Humans Every Day. 50 Simple Ways to Press Pause, Stay Present, and Connect with Your Kids. Welcome back, dear listener.

I am so glad to be in your ears. So glad to connect with you. And if you're new, welcome, welcome, welcome. I'm so glad you're here. This is a very special conversation. I'm actually re releasing a conversation I had with one of my favorite authors, Kim Payne from June Uh, 2017. And we look at how our highly stressed kids actually look like refugee children in terms of stress and the way our lives are with too much, too fast, too young, kids feeling overwhelmed.

And, um, and it, this is a really powerful episode, so much so that it was way back in episode 70 where I wanted to re release it. And I want you to look for, you know, the evidence of how kids are struggling with the amounts of the stress response in them. We talk about, you know, Kim has some really maybe controversial ideas about screen time and we talk about how to simplify and, and how that, the amazing positive effects that has on kids, how brothers and sisters play better together with fewer toys.

Pretty interesting. So some different things. to really take in in this episode. So, enjoy, dive in. Would love to hear your takeaways. Hit me up at Instagram if you have some. And, uh, and let's dive into this episode with Kim Payne. Welcome. I'm so glad you're here today. I am talking to Kim John Payne, and I am so excited to talk to him because Kim is the author of Simplicity Parenting.

And I was just checking the book because it was published in 2009. And by way of introduction to Kim, I just have to tell you, well, welcome Kim, let, first let me just say that. I have to say, so, your book, I was just checking, it was published in 2009, I have the hardcover copy, and, and I must have bought the, your book, when it first came out, um, And my, cause my daughter was two years old and I was like, ah, and I remember doing my first toy pursuit and simplifying and decluttering her room when she was two years old.

And remember feeling like, oh my gosh, and she was so excited. It was so beautiful. She was so thrilled. And then I was so taken by your message of the book that I, um, Um, I ended up leading a book club several times on Simplicity Parenting at the Montessori School where I was volun where my daughter was going.

I had to do some volunteer hours, so I did that by leading book clubs of Simplicity Parenting and um, It's just an incredibly life changing book and for Kim this, and you can, uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like Simplicity Parenting has just taken office or it has a life of its own. You have trainings and a website, et cetera.

So, um, welcome to the Mindful Mama podcast, Kim. Tell us about Mindful Parenting. How did this, how did Simplicity Parenting come about and what were some of the problems that you were seeing in the world that, that led you to, to do this work?

[00:04:53] Kim John Payne: Yeah, it was, um, unusually, uh, young age when I was, um, I, uh, I volunteered actually to work in various war torn areas and difficult areas that were experiencing a lot of problems in Southeast Asia when I was, Actually, just in my early twenties, and so I saw a lot of dislocations, saw a lot of stress, highly, highly stressed and traumatized children and spent time there helping and doing what I could.

And then, um, became more and more interested in how one could help very, very stressed and traumatized children. So I moved to the, to the West, I moved to London and, and did some, um, postgraduate study and I set up a little, um, counselling practice, um, as well on the side and through the door came children who looked just like the children in the Thai Cambodian refugee camps, or just like in the slums of Jakarta.

Um, they Very stressed, very drawn, very pale, anxious, um, and, um, just, they, they look just like the kids I'd, I'd been working with a very, very short time before, only these kids, they look like wartime kids and, and it was a huge puzzle, actually, and, um, the more I, I thought about it, and it was a difficult thought, um, actually, um, it was, it wasn't an, it wasn't an easy one, Hunter, because, you know, It was a little bit overwhelming because I, I, I thought, well, how could this possibly be, you know, um, but I came to think of it as the undeclared war on childhood, actually, there was something what I did when I dug into their biographies.

What I came to understand is that it wasn't so much war that was going on in terms of, of exploding shells and in terms of having to flee the enemy. The enemy was within. The enemy wasn't out there. The enemy was within, and it was within the lifestyle. And the more I help these children and parents simplify and balance their lifestyle, the, the, the, the more these children return back just to being their quirky selves, just their lovable.

Regular selves. And, um, so that's, for me, was a, um, the beginning, um, of, of a path of, of understanding that our, our lives have just gotten too much. There's, there's just, it's too fast. The kids get shown too much, too young. It's too sexy. Um, it, it's, um, it's just overwhelming our kids. And so, yeah, I guess the rest is history because I've spent the last 30 years, um, from that point on, um, helping, uh, families and also training, helping train coaches and real grassroots movement in being able to understand the power of less.

[00:07:51] Hunter: So, when you, when you talk about this idea that there's too much and too young and everything's overwhelming our kids, my, the question that comes up for me is that, like, we are in this culture, right? Like, we're embedded in this culture where every restaurant has, you know, TV screens going and everybody's on their phones all the time, et cetera.

So, when you were in that position of seeing those children, I mean, granted it was probably a little bit different then and maybe even less then, but seeing these children, what I'm wondering is like, you know, you're like a fish in the water. So how do you see, how do you, how do you see that this is the problem versus something else?

[00:08:34] Kim John Payne: Well, it's because of, because of the overwhelming studies, the evidence that studies are coming out with now. It's not just. You know, it's, it's really interesting that, um, you know, back in the, um, mid eighties when I was working with this and earlier, actually, um, it was, um, it was a little bit counterculture, you know, saying this kind of stuff was counterculture.

Now, you can hardly pick up a magazine, a newspaper with something about the overwhelm of kids, screams overwhelming them, the pressures of high stakes testing, the no child left intact. Act, um, you know, you, you, um, it's everywhere. So this has become, it's become a question that so many people carry around with them.

And I guess where Simplicity Parenting has blossomed so much in Simplicity So many countries around the world. I think there's like 31 translations of the book now, and we have approaching a thousand coaches just about on every continent in the world. Um, and soon we're, we'll be joining that with the Simplicity Parenting Discipline and Guidance Coaching Training.

They're simple little trainings. It would, well, it would be ironic if they were complicated. Um, But it's really just to be a grassroots listener and facilitator of bringing parents together. It's not a therapeutic training, but, um, the, the, um, now, now, That quiet voice that, hang on, this is out of whack, something is wrong, um, has grown, as the pressure has grown on kids, parents often, you know, just got that feeling of, hey, something is wrong.

None of us had to cope, or very few of us had to cope with anything like what our kids have to cope with nowadays. And it's, and no matter how many, how many times people say to us, school, particularly school folk, um, say to us, well, it's just the way things are. It's just the way it is. Outguard Instincts isn't, no, no it's actually not.

So the voice that I raised many, many years ago, which I must confess was, you know, counterculture, it was felt to be a little strange, particularly during the affluence of the late 80s. to the mid 90s, it was like, great, you know, we're doing so well, let's get, let's more, more, more. You know, I, uh, recently a very dear friend of mine who's an evolutionary biologist did a, ran, ran some figures for me because I asked her, I said to her, you know, our, so many of our kids, uh, uh, are really, um, struggling with the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in their systems and, and particularly dopamine as well, pleasure, because of screens, we're wiring our kids to only motivate when it's pleasurable, which is a really big worry, because, um, uh, the Learning Studies Habit just recently said, which was 000 kids by, um, Brandeis University and the, um, National Institute of Mental Health, the, um, Number one, uh, uh, factor in, in children's, uh, studying, uh, success and later success in life was grit, was grit and determination and staying with something when it was a problem, even though it was uncomfortable.

Now, you put that right alongside. Um, the fact that we're wiring our kids, uh, to be pleasure centered through dopamine release, which is, um, very much, you know, a thought out process with, with, um, TV, um, video game developers and so on. And we're raising a group of kids who, it's going to, struggle to succeed if grit is the most important determination of whether kids can actually succeed in life.

And that's That's just common sense, right? When you've got a problem and you keep going at it. Well, but the kind of pace of life we've got, on one hand, it's stressing out kids with adrenaline and cortisol, fight or flight, and on the other hand, it's, it's wiring them for pleasure. And that is a very, hmm, dynamic, and Difficult Cocktail when that's going on.

So, so quite often, um, um, you know, when I'm, when I'm out, you know, in the world as I often, very, very often am doing workshops and so on, I'm actually, um, there'll usually be a dad or two who'll just say, Hey, that's just the way the world is now. It's just the way it is. And, you know, you've got to get your kids on screens.

You've got to get them into all these, um, Programs, you just, it's a fast life now. And that's, you know, if they're going to succeed, that's the way it has to be. And, and actually, I think it's just the opposite. It's exactly the opposite. Otherwise, why did Steve Jobs not have screens for his kids? When he was asked why he didn't have screens for his kids, he answered, he, he wanted them to be, um, he wanted them to actually be, um, innovative.

He didn't want them to passively stare at someone else's innovation. If we want to have kids that succeed, you see, Simplicity Parenting is all about setting kids up for success, because when we allow them time to play, time in nature, time to work it out with siblings, it's time to have connection with families.

We establish a base camp, you know, we just establish a base camp for life. And we allow them to develop grit, determination, problem solving, all that is done when we give kids the space to do it. It's not done with endless clubs and classes and screens and toys and just being, otherwise we end up with kids who have this really false sense of entitlement.

And also a passivity of spirit. They just expect to be served. And we all want to raise kids with a spirit of gratitude, not with that sense of entitlement. That worries every parent.

[00:14:46] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcast right after this break.

Hmm. When I read. I was really struck by you write about some, um, some working with some kids who were diagnosed with ADHD, um, in some, in private schools somewhere. Can you tell us about the, the studies and what you did putting these kids through a simplicity regimen?

[00:15:16] Kim John Payne: Yeah, yeah. Private and public schools.

The, um, what we did is, is, is that we took a cohort, large cohort of kids, um, Who were diagnosed with ADHD, both, um, inattentive and hyperactive, and, um, we, um, um, to start the program, they had to be, um, in a Ritalin or Adderall, whatever, free, um, Not using medications of that sort, methylphenidates and so on, and, um, we, um, engaged them in a protocol of balancing out their lives, of unstressing, of simplifying, and we had various protocols, we had various cohorts.

We had some kids who, uh, were just simplifying at home, we had other kids who were simplifying, um, only at school, and then other kids who were simplifying and balancing out their lives in both. Then we had another group who we could, um, track who were still in touch with screen media, and we had other kids who we could track who went screen media free.

So it was pretty, pretty comprehensive study. Um, and what we found is that the kids who would hear most of the protocol, who, um, had dialed it back at home, Teachers very kindly agreed to just balance and calm it down at school, help with the transitions, help them with not piling on so much homework and so on.

Um, and the kids who were screen free, um, no videos, no TVs, no computers and so forth. Um, they, 68 percent went from clinically dysfunctional to functional within four months. We retested them. They were above the 92nd percentile when we first started working with this, according to, you know, the fairly rigorous, um, protocol that we ran to come up with that data.

And then, um, within four months, um, 68 percent of them were, um, when we retested to being actually you couldn't detect ADHD. It, it, it simply wasn't there, which is controversial, right? Because ADHD is supposed to be hardwiring. Um, you, you're not supposed to be able to heal. You're not supposed to be able to.

In such short, in fact, we were seeing, uh, improvements after three weeks. But we didn't retest until four months. Um, and, you know, I'm not claiming this to, to be the, the, the be all and end all studies. There are many studies that have come afterwards that, that, that, you know, back up what we found as well.

But, um, what, what I came out of that study with was, was a pretty simple way of looking at it. I mean, it was a pilot study. Um, others have, as I said, have, followed up. But, um, I think of it, I think of it actually, um, this way, Hunter, that all kids are quirky. They all have their little quirks that makes them lovable and kind of infuriating too.

But, but, you know, it's just who they are. If we add what I think of as cumulative stress to their lives, under the radar stress, in this undeclared war on childhood, with it's the, the highly stressed child. But the daily stress has become the new normal, it's become ubiquitous, but if we, um, add, if we put cumulative stress into that quirk, that quirk becomes, I think of it as inflamed, the kids almost get like a soul fever, an emotional fever, and what happens is that that quirk Like a busy kid will become hyperactive kid.

The kid who, um, is feisty will become opposition defiance disorder. The kid who is, um, just likes things, is very orderly will become obsessive compulsive. But by, you know, and that's a grim picture, right? But by, um, and either diagnosed or undiagnosed, but they just go into difficulty, their quirk becomes inflamed.

What we found is that when we simplified and balanced their lives, that quirk, that quirk not only reappeared, they didn't only slide back along the spectrum just to being quirky again. And many parents said, you know, like, I feel Like, I've got my little boy back, I feel like I've got my teenage girl back, you know, it was remarkable, you know, parents were, you know, in, in tears as they were saying this very often, but something altogether, um, just very unexpected happened.

Because as we continue the study, not only did those quirks just, they came back just to being their lovely quirk, quirky little self, but those quirks actually kept sliding along with the spectrum and they became their gifts. For example, the child with ADHD, so called ADHD, which actually it's such a silly term, it's like attention deficit.

It's not actually attention deficit, it's attention excess. That's the first thing. And it's a, it's a difficulty to prioritize their attention. We've all got that. Multiple Attentions, but these kids just find it difficult to prioritize, and the reason they find it difficult to prioritize, like, what they should be focusing on now, like, in the classroom, as opposed to the four square game at recess, and then pizza for lunch, they put pizza at the top, four square second, and, and the algebra third, right?

[00:20:34] Hunter: Of course! And

[00:20:36] Kim John Payne: they're thinking about the games at recess, because that's the high stimulation. Right that's that's a bit nervous they're anxious about it they want to get out there like they wanted they want to move because they have to move in order to relieve the stress take the stress out of their lives give these kids a childhood allow them decompression time and that same child who's hyperactive.

Whose quirk is just that they're a busy kid, their gift is that they are movers and shakers, only now they have a good sense of timing, they have a good sense of appropriateness, and they have a sense of how their actions will affect others. Because now they're not in fight or flight. When they're in fight or flight, they couldn't think about how their actions would affect others.

They were in survival mode. If we calm their lives down, calm their adrenaline and cortisol. Raging through their systems. These kids are amazing. They are such leaders. They are so kind. They really are wonderful kids. Only now they have a sense of timing and a sense of empathy. And we found that with diagnosis after diagnosis, that when kids I'm not suggesting that they are not prone to hyperactivity or obsessiveness or opposition, uh, you know, uh, defiant behavior.

They are prone to it. That is hardwiring. They're prone to it. But where that goes, either to their, to the fever or to the gift, Is, is significantly impacted by whether we want to give these kids a childhood or not.

[00:22:16] Hunter: Hmm. I love, I love that idea of giving, giving them a childhood. And it's interesting because you talk about that fight for light or freeze response in the children, which is something I teach to my students.

moms and parents and the Mindful Parenting course about how when we are in those, that, you know, that lower brain stress response that it literally cuts off access to the thoughtful, um, creative and imaginative parts of our brain, you know, that prefrontal cortex. And of course, it's the same in kids, but it's interesting that It's, this is not because our kids are in a horrible environment.

This is because we are on purpose stimulating our kids.

[00:23:01] Kim John Payne: Yep. I mean, that's, it's, it's amazing. It's, it's really amazing to see. The, the tens if not hundreds of thousands of parents around the world who are working with our coaches, how they reclaim family life, um, when they simplify and balance, and it's not, it's not that one needs to opt out of modern life.

It's one, it's simply the fact that we need to question it. And give what is right at the right time. We need, in a sense, to be, to be, um, sentinels. We need to stand at the gate of our family life and let in what we're comfortable with and hold out what we are not and, and just feel completely. Okay, about saying, no, you know what, we've had a play date already this week, and there was a sports practice, so, you know, we're, we're just going to have a couple of quiet afternoons at home after school, because, because you know what it's like, Hunter, you pick your kids up after school, and they're on a roll, you know, schools are incredibly busy places, schools, in a sense, also need to think very carefully, school professionals, educators, about the amount of stress they're putting kids under.

Okay, And they don't wake up in the morning thinking, huh, I wonder how I can stress my class today. I mean, you know, they, they, They're loving and kind people, but we've come to accept the pace of life and it's that, that is simply overwhelming our kids, um, the evolutionary neurologist that I mentioned just a moment ago, I asked her, how long would it take for the brain to adapt?

If, um, if we were to cap, Adrenaline, Cortisol, Fight, Flight, Freeze, and actually Flock as well, that tendency to, to, to, um, develop clicks at school. How long would it take until the, until, as you mentioned, the frontal lobes, the neocortex, um, how, um, how long would it take for that to, Kick back in and not have the amygdala hijack the, the, the, the base brain, the reptilian brain hijack.

I think of it like they're like lizard kick. How long would that take until we could actually, a child could cope with that given the normative data that we have available. And she went away, and she's a very, very thoughtful person, um, a long, long time tenured professor, and she came back saying, well, you know, we, as we both suspected, the brain would adapt, but, um, given optimal, um, uh, environment, it would probably take about 900 to 1200 years.

So, so, so we've got, we've got 9 to 1200 years ahead of our kids ability to deal with all this stuff. We have gotten so far and like, why, why have we done this? Well, it's, it's, it's a, it's multilayered, but I tell you what, a really big part of it is marketing forces that have just, have just drawn us in to wanting more and more and more, that, that, that more is better, bigger, better, more.

And the, and just to stand up to the marketing forces, even just that piece, just to say, you know what? My child playing in the backyard with, with just in nature. Going to the park, um, messing around the stream, the creek, I would, you know, I'm going to, and not buying them anything to do that, just having them find and construct things out of nature.

Can we do that? Or do we have to buy stuff? And, and more and more parents are deciding to let children self construct. Let, let children just have that decompression time and let them, I talk about be, be bored. I don't know if you recall that.

[00:27:01] Hunter: Oh, yes, yes, absolutely.

[00:27:04] Kim John Payne: Do you? Did you try it out?

[00:27:05] Hunter: Oh, of course.

In fact, that's, I, you know, I talk to my, the, my moms that I coach and I teach about, you know, that's good. It's good to let your kids be bored and it's important. My girls, you know, I use your line, Kim, that I love that you wrote in the book, um, something to do is right around the corner. And, you know, that's a great line.

So in Simplicity Parenting, Kim writes, say, something to do is right around the corner and just repeat it like a broken record. And I swear it works. It's lovely. And they get annoyed at me, but I'm like, whatever, just go.

[00:27:36] Kim John Payne: Well, you know, when kids come to you and say, we're bored, you know, and if you've got two kids like you and I have.

The little one will poke her head around the behind, out from behind the big one and say, yeah. And, and, yeah. And, um, and you know, my response to it is like you said, Oh, Oh dear. Well, something good is just around the corner. Or as since the book was written, one mum actually said to me, I, what I say is when the children say we're bored and she says, you may be.

You give them permission, you may, that's fine by

[00:28:15] Speaker 3: me,

[00:28:17] Kim John Payne: and usually within, um, and I set the stopwatch on this and I asked a bunch of our early coaches to do this as well. And we found usually between 20 and 30 minutes of boredom. And by the way, separate them, um, uh, and creativity breaks out. And creativity breaks out that lasts for between two to three hours.

[00:28:43] Speaker 3: Now,

[00:28:43] Kim John Payne: trust that with turning on the TV because they're bored. You see, that doesn't last for three hours. There's arguments that start up, the kids just zone out, there's no creativity. That's, that's where, um, that's where just allowing children to be bored. And one of the things that, um, myriad parents have said is that when that 20 to 30 minute thing is only at the beginning, after you, um, practice this for a month or two of just giving your kids the gift of boredom, Um, then what happens is that that time comes down and down and down to in the end it doesn't need twenty to thirty minutes at all for them to find creativity they don't even come to you in the first place.

And, um, and so the children start to have. A life of their own, and we don't need to be continually engaged as unpaid edutainers of our kids. Amen, Abe! Right? And then we can get on and have a life as well. You know, um, as opposed to being at the beck and call of our kids or when they grow up later to be like unpaid Uber drivers, you know, just taking them from here to there to here to there.

Um, it's, it's very part of the, the, the, the, the piece that, um, that I very much want to support is not so much that kids have space for life, but also parents have space for their lives. I'm working on a new book at the moment called being at your best when your kids are at their worst and it's a book about emotional self regulation and a really big part of, of, of feeling good and feeling centered when our kids, uh, you know, have lost.

They're way a little bit, um, and are pushing your buttons and are complaining and whingeing. A really big part of that actually begins way earlier than that moment. It begins by having space in our own lives as parents. And one of the ways, one of the fast tracks to getting space in our lives as parents is to give our kids space.

I mean, it's, it's a little bit ironic that giving, and wonderful, but giving our kids space, um, actually results in us having more space.

[00:31:16] Hunter: It's true. You know, I have to say that in my own life. So I read Simplicity in Parenting when my oldest daughter, who's now 10, was two. And, um, and I've used these concepts throughout my life, like not only in simplifying environment, but rhythm, you know, we have our, We have a Monday night's pizza night and Tuesday's pasta and Wednesday, Thursday's rice, you know, all that sort of thing.

We have this rhythm and we keep, are very conscious of trying to balance our schedules and, and not do too much. And we have a, a screen free Sunday where, um, where every Sunday the whole family's screen free. And, and the creativity that comes out on Sundays is amazing. Um, but I do have to say also that.

Now that my girls are older, they are very, they do, they have their own lives and I have my life and we share our lives together. It's beautiful, but they have stuff they're doing. I don't have to be, you know, taking, you know, entertaining them all the time, et cetera. Absolutely.

[00:32:19] Kim John Payne: And that's a lovely thing.

That's a lovely thing that you've got. With your girls, Hunter, and it's, it's a slow cooker, isn't it? It takes a while.

[00:32:26] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. You need to have some, some resilience in, in the beginning. But, so let's talk about some of the ways that people can Simplify. Um, sometimes I think it can be a little bit scary, but I think just taking bit by bit is, uh, very helpful, and I think some of the most, uh, appealing ways to simplify for parents is in the stuff, right?

Is it definitely in the stuff? And I, and so we talk about, um, I've talked about simplifying our kids stuff, and my daughter was two, so I had the lovely opportunity to, like, get rid of the plastic, talking, beeping things. I had this wonderful excuse. You gave me this great excuse to give me this stuff that might, like, float into my house endlessly.

And, um, And it was really, um, really amazing. And I was totally, like I said, I was completely scared the first couple times I decluttered my daughter's spaces. And every time she would come back, like she was in this, this little preschool and she would come back and she would just be like, Oh my God. And she would just, it was lovely for her and she would just start playing immediately.

It was amazing. So, so what about the stuff? Why should we simplify stuff? I think we've got a pretty good idea about that already, but, and, and where can parents sort of start with that if they're feeling nervous?

[00:33:48] Kim John Payne: Well, one of the, one of the things, um, and again, not just my opinion, which might be interesting, but relatively boring, it's, it's like, what is the feedback from thousands and thousands of parents who have.

Who have simplified, you know, their environment, simplified stuff, books, toys, clothes, harsh, uh, cleaning, uh, uh, materials, fluids, um, harsh lighting. What's, you know, when you simplify the environment, um, what's, what's, what's, what's with that? Why do that? Um, one of the things that a lot of parents have found is that when they simplify, For example, as you were mentioning with toys, um, because I started counting the amount of toys because back, um, when my, when I had a more expanded private practice, I still do have a private practice, but it's, uh, I keep it pretty small these days because I'm traveling and writing so much, but the, when, um, back in the days, I used to actually go into people's homes for a day from wake up time to Spread over a month, you know, otherwise it'd be a bit overwhelming for the kids, but I'd visit for two or three hours at one's time of the day, two or three hours at a time of the day, and I was actually called Dr.

Trashbag, it was a, it was a very unfortunate nickname, but the, um, the reason is I had a couple of big industrial trash bags with me. Because one of the suggestions I'd often make is I'd go into children's, I'd walk around the house, go to their playrooms, um, usually the playroom, if it was such a thing, or the bedroom, um, uh, had a ton of toys, but most of the toys were in the high traffic areas, like, like family rooms, actually, and I'd count them, and the, and the average, um, American kid has about 500 toys, um, On the low side two hundred and it gets up there around five hundred and that means that the three thousand piece Lego set counts as one right it's just it's it's it's like it's like a plastic a molded plastic tsunami and the when we start to get rid of those toys because imagine if you got two or three kids it's just it's it's scary how many toys there are.

And I'd have this big black plastic bag and we would start putting them in, like the ones you mentioned, all the exploding, plastic, beeping, annoying, from the unrelenting, gifting in laws, from the naughty uncle, you know, all the, all the things that just, uh, the more expensive they are, the quick, more quickly they break, usually the more annoying they are, and the, um, and so into the bag, they would go.

And, um, Then we'd be left with maybe, oh, it's, it's usually about 30 to 40, sometimes 50 toys, usually less, and we would get some boxes and, um, and make a toy library, make a clothes library, make a book library, um, just make libraries, put them away in the boxes, and then cycle them in and cycle them out. Now, some parents have asked me, well, do I do this with my children and give them the choice?

And all this other stuff. Um, you know, my answer is, well, it depends on your level of masochism, actually. No, no, no, you don't. But you're really, really careful not to throw out the ones that are very dear to them. Um, of course, those are the ones that are kept. Now, in all these years, and it's getting on almost three decades now, where parents have been doing this, um, there's only been a handful of times when there's ever been pushback, and usually that's because a parent's made a mistake.

Um, with throwing out one particular toy that was very dear, or there's been a deeper emotional issue, um, going on. Um, tens of thousands of parents have done this, and the kids will come back. Just joyful because now they, um, they've got actual toys to play with. It isn't like they're just surrounded in this bewildering, uh, sea and this ocean of what do I do now?

Their play can become directed. And you know what, Hunter, one of the most interesting things that has happened, and it's a very, very consistent piece of feedback is how well brothers and sisters play together when there's fewer toys. And the parents have said to me. You know, that is so weird. We thought that if we had fewer toys, they'd fight over them.

But the, but the, um, the answer lies in the neurology. It lies in the brain science and the kid's brain activity. When you have two things, number one is fewer toys, and number two, toys that are passive. In other words, toys that the child has to activate rather than push a button and the toy activates itself.

When you have a child who needs to, um, activate, you know, just like, it's a big blanket, it's a, it's a clothes horse, um, a clothes, you know, drying rack. And some, some big blocks and some just stuff that you've got to actually get busy and do something with. Otherwise, it's just a big blanket sitting on the floor.

You've got to do something when you have to do something and you've got fewer and there's two or three kids. What it does is it activates the limbic system in their brain because the creativity, um, fires in the, um, and activates the limbic system and the limbic system is a part of the brain that's responsible for partly for cooperation and collaboration.

So fewer toys that are more passive toys. Lead to the kids playing better and so that we there are in the book and and there's and it's because the book was written as you mentioned two thousand nine I think it was and that was written after ten or twelve years of working with parents to simplify so it wasn't the beginning of something it was the culmination or just a part of the story.

Um, those four pillars that I mentioned in the book of simplicity are still hold interestingly. 30 years later still hold true today and decluttering the environment is, is, is, yeah, that, that's one of the most doable of those four pillars.

[00:40:25] Hunter: Stay tuned for more Mindful Mama podcasts right after this break.

It's fun and you know, I was really kind of a little bit skeptical of, um, some of the, you know, some of the toy recommendations I think you, and one of the recommendations I was skeptical of was, um, You know, scarves and things like that. And so, but I, you know, we, we did that. I remember we, we had it, we, we dyed our own rainbow silt scarves with, with Kool Aid and with fabric dye on the stove.

It was fun. But, but what I noticed over the years is that man, those scarves were amazing. Those scarves, they loved those scarves. The scarves were everything. Like, of course, they were superhero capes and things like that, but they were also like, they would tie to each other and they would make chains and then they would use them structurally and then they would be, you know, they would be skirts, they would be hair, they would be the top of a building.

They would be out, you know, pulling the wagon outside. I mean, they really

[00:41:34] Kim John Payne: But you know, Hunter, I've got to say, fast forward, um, to these years later when your girls are bigger and you mentioned that they're now got a really good degree of autonomy, right? Well, creativity, well, first of all, safety is the first thing, but, um, you know, the child just needs to feel safe.

A child's going to be really struggling to feel safe if they're overwhelmed with too much, including toys. But once a kid has a safe base, they know they're safe, because it's weird that, that, that the pace of modern life and the giving of just too much stuff actually stresses kids, it actually stresses them, and they, um, you know, I go back to Eric Erickson in Psych 101 when he said, you know, all the child wants to know in the first 30 months of life is, am I safe?

Am I not safe? Can I trust? Can I not trust? And, um, if a child's answer is yes, I can, I'm not being overwhelmed with too many toys, too many playdates, too much screen time, just too much, the answer to that will be yes, and then, and so that releases, Their emotional and social development to then actually start developing autonomy and start developing higher order social and emotional skills.

And it's so wonderful that for your little girls, you gave them that, that a part of that establishing safe base was to not overwhelm them with too many toys, too much scheduling. Too much screens, and now they're moving out into the world in an autonomous way. Like I've got an 18 year old daughter at the moment and she's in Europe, um, working and traveling around on her own.

And I've got to believe that all those years of holding back the avalanche of too muchness, allowing her time to be. Creative, um, recently she was lost, um, she had to find, she got lost, um, in, uh, Copenhagen, actually, um, and she, um, didn't know what to do, and she just told, and she was in a little bit of a tricky situation late at night at the train station, and she just totally figured it out.

She worked out how to keep the creepy people away, as she put it, there's some creepy guys were following around, she worked that out, she went to a place well lit, they went into a cafe, she then got talking to, to a woman there, got her directions, um, you know, worked and, and, and, and, and worked it all out and, and I've got to believe, um, and that all those years, Of having our kids problem solve by not problem solving for them having all those years of letting them be bored and then having to be creative and letting them play together so that there are all sorts of issues that would come up in arguments and fights and conundrums and, and that fast forward, you know, to, to, to an 18 year old girl lost in a train station late at night in, in, in a, in a strange city.

And she figures it out, and what's more, she, um, she writes to us with absolute, you know, just a real sense of, I did this. It's pretty good that she could admit that that happened as well, right? But, um, I don't have parents freaking out, or at least not letting her know we were freaking out. But, you know, it has some pretty big implications.

later in life when we don't overwhelm our kids and we let them develop particularly the emotional intelligence that will come to their rescue when they need it, when, when they're leaving home.

[00:45:30] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Like when I think about what I want for my daughters, I want them to feel, you know, I want them to yes, be able to solve problems and to be successful and things like that.

But also beyond that too, I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin. And I feel like the idea that You're bored and you need something to, to entertain you is this idea that you're not comfortable in your own skin. And I feel like, you know, when you're safe at home and childhood, this is the time to figure this out.

Not when you're an adult and you're then you, you know, you can't sit still with yourself.

[00:46:05] Kim John Payne: Well, you know, I watch, um, uh, I watch a lot of kids now, particularly young kids who, uh, Who are really struggling to, to actually be comfortable in their own skin, because they're getting messages largely through screens.

We've put the most, one of the most powerful tools ever invented by humankind in the hands of children. Um, we, it's like a 25 year, Unregulated social experiment that, frankly, is just not going at all well. And what they do is they get sold a bunch of ideas about how you've got to be, how you've got to talk, what you've got to do, how you've got to posture, how you've got to, you know, be, and they, and they conform to it.

And they, um, and what worries me about that is I know screens are creative, but there's someone else's creativity. And so what happens is that kids end up wanting to go with the crowd in order to be accepted, they have to talk a certain way, wear certain clothing, buy certain hundred and fifty dollar sports shoes, they have to do all this stuff in order to be popular and in order to be, now that following the crowd, You know, if you teach kids and you put screens in their hands that over and over are incredibly good at telling them they need this stuff to be popular, you put screens in young kids hands that sell them that idea, how can we possibly blame them if at 15, 16, 17, they start following the crowd into some pretty dark places?

Like drug use, and so on. We have trained them to follow the crowd, if we allow them access to screens when they're young, and, and, and not establish, in a sense, as parents, we want them to follow what I think of as the true north of our family values, not the magnetic north. Of toxic pop culture. And yet, as an adult, how can we be authentic, talking to our, you know, future teenagers about, about not going along with the crowd when we have trained them to go along with the crowd?

[00:48:27] Hunter: Now you're, in Simplicity Parenting, you recommend no screen time before sort of seven. And I, and I find that, I find that's the place where it, I feel, I have some pushback against that because, you know, in my own life, I've had, I guess I've been a little bit counterculture in that I haven't had a TV since I was 18.

We, but, you know, my husband is a programmer and he makes music. He makes electronic music. And he has had my daughter. My oldest daughter, he taught her some, like, programming and typing things when she was pretty, like, three years old. There was a programming thing and they've, there's a lot of real creative work that you can do on screens, uh, like making music.

There's a lot of incredible music making stuff and, um, you know, like writing songs and also all the, there's incredible programming stuff. So I wonder what you think about, um, That, that world of really creative, um, the way it's, you know, that tool aspect of the screens.

[00:49:36] Kim John Payne: Yeah. You know, for me, screens are like dessert.

They should only be eaten after a healthy, nutritious, Long, long years, years long meal of family connection, there's, there's no problems with screens, but the problem I have, and it would be, it'd be silly to be anti screen in a certain sense, even though the, the, um, Study after study after study, and you only have to do the most basic search, the web search, um, on the screen, to, um, to find the neurological inhibiting forces in screens.

It's, it's basically damages our kids brains, and, um, it prevents myelination, and the jury is utterly, utterly wrong. Utterly in about that. Um, so there's that piece to it, but my whining with screens is, is not so much anti screen only, it's I'm passionately pro connection and I'm pro for very simple connections and all these connections take time.

The first connection, Is it, I'm passionately pro a kid's connection to nature and to play, and screens affect that, they affect play. Again, research is just, all this is for me, observationally based, anecdotally based, but solidly research based. Um, the second one, I'm passionately pro kids having friends, real friends, not friending.

So not on social network, but real friends where they have to work stuff out with the joy of friendship. But frankly, friendship's difficult too. You know, the anguish of friendship. You just can't click and unfriend someone. The third one is I'm passionately pro, obviously, pro connection to family. And family life takes time, and It takes, it's very slow to develop the values and screens present a, you know, for every, um, little like we can claim, Oh, but they do these creative type things on screens and they absolutely do for very short periods of time, but then we've opened the door to another whole YouTubing, social networking world that is, that now is no longer a tool It's, it's, it's actually controlling them rather than controlling it, because kids at a young age don't have control over their impulses.

They, we know that little kids just don't, and when we flood them with dopamine, we, it's, it's a, it's a really difficult hormonal cocktail. It's a very difficult brain, um, cocktail that we're, we're, Sending their way, but it takes time. Family takes time and screens, you know, the Kaiser Family Foundation study into November 2015, um, found that the average American 12 to 18 year old now.

Uh, is exposed to seven and a half hours of screens per day, and that doesn't include school use time. Wow. And that figure now has gone up to nine and a quarter. Oh my god. You see, I've heard this a lot, Hunter, uh, and forgive me, but I've heard a lot that we do this little creative thing together with our kids on screens, and we do, and it's wonderful, it's no problem, but that opens the door to a bunch of other stuff because kids don't know how to self regulate, and even if we do try and regulate it, it leads to a Bunch of arguments, and I tell you where the line gets crossed, is that when we give them their own screens, because kids are pretty basic, you know, if I have a screen, if I have a phone, and my, um, and my 12 year old daughter or son wants to look something up, I have no problems handing them the screen and we'll look up, um, that thing they needed to know about, you know, elephants in the Serengeti for a school project.

I have no problem with it, but it's my screen and I take it back after the, because kids are basic. Who's, who's, Screen it is, is really, really basic and if there are any parents listening to this podcast with very young children who are teetering on the edge of do I buy this or do I not, my advice is to, is to not, but have it be yours and then you have control of it.

And the fourth, I've mentioned family, I've mentioned, I beg your pardon, I've mentioned connection to play and nature, connection to friends, real connection, real connection to family, and the fourth one is probably the one that, like, in concentric circles, this one would be at the core, and if you imagine a sort of a rippling of a pond and those ripples right to the middle, is connection to self, Is really knowing your values as opposed to pop values being comfortable as you mentioned in your own skin and for me, screens are not so much again, I'm not so much anti screen, but anything that that filters and makes that water down like screens do has got to be suspicious.

And has to be very, very carefully thought about before or even after they've been introduced.

[00:55:22] Hunter: Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Well, I wish we had time to talk about all the rest of Simplicity Parenting, talking about rhythm and, and schedules and filtering out the adult world, but I, I feel like that's a great place to end to give us all food for thought.

Well, thank you so much, Kim. I so appreciate you taking the time to come on and talk to us here.

[00:55:46] Kim John Payne: Uh, it's been a, it's been an honor and a pleasure, Hunter. Thanks for doing what you do.

[00:55:56] Hunter: Thank you so much for listening. I love talking to Kim. And his Simplicity Parenting is an amazing book that is really, really helpful. I highly recommend you get it. We talk about some of these ideas in Mindful Parenting in the membership. We bring in some of these ideas and encourage you to simplify in Mindful Parenting.

Um, but it's fascinating, isn't it? Like, ah, you know, just talking a few years ago about the screen time and now we know even more. And I love just this idea of being pro nature, pro family connection, pro real friends, and taking time and slowing down. We really, really need that. It's so, so valuable. So, I hope you enjoyed it.

Please let me know if you did. Share it around if you found it valuable. Let me know on Instagram if you found it valuable. I've been loving those stories people are tagging me in. It's so lovely. I hope that, you know, for me, it is like wintertime and, you know, my birthday's in winter, but it doesn't make it any like less kind of gray and, and out for me.

And you know, I know that my connections with you, um, when I get to get these amazing connections with the listeners really, really lifts me up, so I lean towards. what I'm appreciating and what I'm valuing. And I hope if you are feeling the gray days and that you will lean towards what lifts you up and continue to remind yourself what you appreciate, what you value, what you're grateful for.

And I'm grateful for you. And I hope that this episode has given you some real value and given you some food for thought in your life. Um, please don't let it be, make you shame and blame yourself. Just offer yourself, you know, food for thought and, and, um, and compassion and love and all that stuff. I'm, uh, I'm feeling that for you anyway.

All right. I'm wishing you a beautiful, beautiful week, my friend. Next week I am so excited to, uh, give you an amazing interview with Sharon Martin on how to combat perfectionism. So, so valuable. So look in your, in your, you know, podcast, listening. device or in your inbox next Tuesday, and I will see you there.

Thank you. Thank you so much for listening, my friend. Namaste.

[00:58:44] Hunter: I'd say definitely do it. It's really helpful. It will change

[00:58:47] Hunter: your relationship with your kids for the better. It will help you communicate better. And just, I'd say communicate better as a person, as a wife, as a spouse. It's been really a positive influence in our lives. So definitely do it.

[00:59:00] Hunter: I'd say definitely do it.

It's so worth it. The money really is in. It's so inconsequential when you get so much benefit from being a better parent to your children and feeling like you're connecting more with them and not feeling like you're yelling all the time or you're like, why isn't this working? I would say definitely do it.

It's so, so worth it. It'll change you.

[00:59:23] Hunter: No matter what age someone's child is, it's a great opportunity for personal growth and it's a great investment in someone's family. I'm very thankful I have this.

[00:59:32] Hunter: You can continue in your old habits. Or you can learn some new tools and gain some perspective to shift everything in your parenting.

[00:59:48] Hunter: Were you frustrated by parenting? Do you listen to the experts and try all the tips and strategies, but you're just not seeing the results that you want? Or are you lost as to where to start? Does it all seem so overwhelming with too much to learn? Are you yearning for community people who get it, who also don't want to threaten and punish to create cooperation?

Hi, I'm Hunter Clark Fields, and if you answered yes to any of these questions, I want you to seriously consider the Mindful Parenting membership. You will be joining hundreds Discover the path of mindful parenting and now have confidence and clarity in their parenting. This isn't just another parenting class.

This is an opportunity to really discover your unique, lasting relationship, not only with your children, but with yourself. It will translate into lasting, connected relationships, not only with your children, but your partner too. Let me change your life. Go to MindfulParentingCourse. com to access it. Add your name to the wait list so you will be the first to be notified when I open the membership for enrollment.

I look forward to seeing you on the inside. MindfulParentingCourse. com

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