We went looking for the cure for “soul fever” over the weekend at the local ocean spit. “Soul fever”, a term coined by Simplicity Parenting author Kim John Payne aptly describes what’s been happening with our Spud over the past couple of months or so. According to Payne, “A child with soul fever stays ‘out of sorts’, taking more than a step or two towards their quirky tendencies.” (pg. 40).
We’ve seen many of the symptoms of soul fever in Spud over the past several weeks that Payne lists in his book, including: disturbed sleep patterns, hypersensitivity, emotional reactions verging on tantrums (he’s never really thrown a tantrum before, but we’ve gotten close recently), and hair-trigger responses to little annoyances (pg. 40), whining, etc., and the list goes on. This is not the generally easy-going, joyful Spud that we know and love. At times I wonder if we’ve hit the “terrible twos” a year late.
I spent much of 2011 trying to address (sporadically) the four areas Payne identifies for simplifying a child’s life: environment, rhythm, schedules, and filtering out the adult world.
As I’ve reflected on what’s changed and been happening in Spud’s life over the past two months, it’s obvious that he has a lot to deal with: the sometimes unpredictable schedule of a blended family (particularly around the holidays), older siblings’ sports and school schedules that have increased in intensity, longer work hours for daddy, the impending arrival of a new baby brother, and a first-ever ear infection followed by two rounds of his first-ever antibiotics (two, because the first kind resulted in a horrific allergic reaction). Add to that the hype and resulting overstimulation of the holidays (along with a birthday) all within a one-month or so span, and, well, here we are.
I desperately want for him to return to a better emotional state and place of calm and security before the new baby arrives in April, and I feel nature, exercise, fresh air, and healthier eating are some of the main keys to accomplishing this.
Three months-plus of morning sickness kept us indoors far more than I would have liked, but other than that, the reasons that we haven’t been outside are just flimsy excuses. We’ve been blessed with a much drier, sunnier late fall/early winter than we are accustomed to, and I haven’t taken advantage of it. So yesterday, we took the first step in the right direction to getting Spud back on a more predictable, soothing path.
We bundled up, and he insisted with much anger and whining that he didn’t want to go to The Spit (he’d never been there before). But I loaded him into the car anyways, deliberately taking the long way along the river, and we had a peaceful ride. I could see his demeanor change as we drove; he mostly commented on things in nature, and when the bay finally came into view he gave a sharp intake of breath and said, “Oh!!!”, and I knew I’d made the right decision.
Before we left the car to brave the cold, we fortified ourselves with tangerines, cherry tomatoes, and pretzels. Almost immediately he heard the cries of the seagulls, and postured that they might be “eagles or seals”, and before we knew it, we were spotting wild strawberry plants, and collecting and throwing rocks down over the bank (mama-made hats make the best buckets, don’t ya’ know?!).
He was adamant in his resistance to going down over the bank to the sand and water below, but I persisted in looking for a “good spot”, and soon he had joined the search. When we turned to go back to the car, he asked whether I had found I good spot yet, because he wanted to go “down there”. So I found the best path of descent for a 6-month-pregnant woman carrying a 31 pound three year old and we muddled our way down to the sand.
He procured a stick and we spent our remaining time digging, writing, chattering, and perhaps most importantly, giggling.
We splashed our way through puddles, often running at a full gallop (well, he did, this pregnant woman doesn’t gallop) on our trek back to the car, and were rewarded on the drive home with a fantastic sunset and view of the rising moon.
He needs more of this. We all need more of this. More nature, less clutter, more peace, less stress, more rhythm and security.
I first tried to read Simplicity Parenting about two years ago, but for some reason couldn’t get past the first few pages. I decided to give it another try after reading this review on Renee’s blog and downloaded a library e-copy of it onto my phone. I’m not a fan of reading books on my phone, but I could not put this one down. Everything made so much sense and tied in with what I had been feeling by instinct. I had to buy a paper copy so I could dog-ear it and underline in it and make it my own. This year I’m determined to follow through on re-evaluating and simplifying the four areas Payne recommends. And guess what? I bought an extra copy for one of you, too!
I know many of you out there have already read Simplicity Parenting, but I’m giving away one new copy of the book to one commenter on this post this week. If you already have your own copy, maybe you know someone who would appreciate their own, or maybe you’ve been meaning to read the book, but haven’t found the time.
In any case, if you would like to enter for a chance to win this inspiring (and practical, doable) book,
simply leave a comment on this post before 8 a.m. PST, Sunday, January 15. Comments will close shortly thereafter, and a winner will be chosen via random number generator and announced within the next day or so. Please make sure your e-mail is linked to your commenting profile or included in the body of your comment so that I can easily reach you if you’re the lucky winner! (My apologies, but this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only).
Comments are now closed–winner will be announced tomorrow, 1.16.2012!